|Mass Observation (Great Britain) |
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In 1937 in Great Britain Mass Observation was started within the intention of carrying out a sociological project that would examine contemporary life in all its minute and fascinating detail. The project relied upon volunteers who prepared diaries to preserve the details of everyday life and questionnaires were sent out to collect information for specific requirements.
In addition to the written materials (now held by the Special Collections Department of the University of Sussex, in the UK) a number of photographs were taken. Humphrey Spender for example took 900 photographs to support his Worktown project that dealt with working class life in Bolton in Northern England. Here photographs of public houses, pigeon racing, collieries, vegetable growing are all preserved. Spender used a hidden camera as he:
... believed obsessionally that truth would be revealed only when people were not aware of being photographed
- Λ James Hinton, 2013, The Mass Observers: A History, 1937-1949, (Oxford University Press). Book description from Amazon (Accessed: 9 July 2013):
This is the first full-scale history of Mass-Observation, the independent social research organisation which, between 1937 and 1949, set out to document the attitudes, opinions, and every-day lives of the British people. Through a combination of anthropological fieldwork, opinion surveys, and written testimony solicited from hundreds of volunteers, Mass-Observation created a huge archive of popular life during a tumultuous decade which remains central to British national identity.
- Λ Bolton Worktown: Photography and Archives from the Mass Observation
(Accessed: 5 May 2014)
- Λ John L. Locke, 2010, Eavesdropping:An Intimate History, (Oxford University Press)
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