NWR is going down in history

Mass Observation’s 12 May Diary Day is coming up soon and NWR members are invited to take part and become part of history.


Every year since 1937, Mass Observation has been recording ordinary lives on 12 May. 

In 1937 Mass Observation called for people from all parts of the UK to record everything they did from when they woke up in the morning to when they went to sleep at night on 12 May. This was the day of George VI’s Coronation. The resulting diaries provide a wonderful glimpse into the everyday lives of people across the UK, and have become an invaluable resource for those researching countless aspects of the era.

This year is the 80th anniversary of the project and they are still recording everyday life in the UK.

If you would like to take part, write, draw, or record your day in as much detail as you wish and we’ll send it to the Mass Observation Archive to be kept for future generations.

What should I write?

12 May 2017 is likely to be quite an ordinary day, but for those researching, the ‘ordinary’ can often provide extraordinary results.

You should include a brief self portrait: your age, where you live, your relationship status, your present job or occupation if you are working and any other information that you think is important to record.

Please write as much as you can about what you do, who you meet, what you talk about, what you eat and drink, what you buy or sell, what you are working on, the places you visit, the people you meet, the things you read, see and hear around you, how you are feeling and of course what you yourself think.

If 12 May was a typical day for you please say so. If not, please say why it wasn’t. Any reflections on the day and on how you felt while keeping the diary are welcome.

Please refrain from including your real name, contact details, or the personal details of the people mentioned in your diary. Please remember that these diaries will be read and used for research and teaching, so don’t include anything that may identify you or others.

Please include the statement below at the end of your diary:

“I donate my 12 May diary to the Mass Observation Archive. I consent to it being made publicly available as part of the Archive and assign my copyright in the diary to the Mass Observation Archive Trustees so that it can be reproduced in full or in part on websites, in publications and in broadcasts as approved by the Mass Observation Trustees. I agree to the Mass Observation Archive assuming the role of Data Controller and the Archive will be responsible for the collection and processing of personal data and ensuring that such data complies with the DPA.”

You can find an optional template here

What happens to my diary after I’ve submitted it?

NWR will collect the diary entries together and send them on to the Mass Observation project.

The diaries will be held and used alongside the 1937 documents. They will be stored in the archive at The Keep and will be used by a wide range of people for research, teaching and learning. This includes academics and students, schools, writers, producers, artists, community and special interest groups and the general public.

So get scribbling! Send you diaries in to the office by email or post by the end of May.

You can also take part on Twitter – tweet your day using the hashtag #12May17.