James Hinton

in Nine Wartime Lives

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199574667
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191702167 | DOI:

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This introductory chapter begins with a description of the wartime diaries that were preserved in the Mass-Observation (MO) archive at Sussex University. Formed in 1937, MO set out to document popular life and belief in ways that would contribute to the democratization of sociological knowledge: ‘an anthropology of ourselves’. One of the innovations was the establishment of a national panel of volunteer observers, briefed to write occasional reports on the their everyday lives and to respond to regular questionnaires (‘directives’). When war broke out members of the panel were invited to send in ‘war diaries’ recording their activities and observations. The book discusses the nine diarists used in this book — six women and three men — people who, at one time or another, were active in public life.

Keywords: Mass-Observation; wartime diaries; diarists; Second World War; directives

Chapter.  8036 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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