Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by Tom Harrission, Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings. Its purpose was to create an ‘anthropology of ourselves’, in other words, to provide a study of the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain.
In its first period, from 1937 to 1950, it published twenty-two books, many of which are being reissued in Faber Finds. These books constitute a unique social history of the period.
Since 1970 the Mass Observation Archive has been at Sussex University. In 1981 the New Mass Observation Project was born. It is run from the Archive under the direction of Dorothy Sheridan.
The Archive is a magnificent resource which continues to provide rich material for books. Recent publications have included Nella Last’s War, Nella Last’s Peace, Our Longest Days (all published by Profile) and three selections of Mass Observation Diaries of the Second World War and just after , edited by Simon Garfield and published by Ebury Press.