Reviewing Mass-Observation: The Archive and its Researchers Thirty Years on


  • Dorothy Sheridan University of Sussex



mass-observation, secondary use, social history, archive


The papers resulting from the 1930s social research organisation, "Mass-Observation" were established as a public archive at the University of Sussex in the early 1970s. Since then they have attracted a steadily increasing number of researchers not only from within the academic community (from art history, social history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, media and cultural studies and literature) but also from the wider community (film, TV and radio programme makers, journalists, community workers, oral and local historians, novelists, playwrights and artists, photographers and documentarists, teachers and school students). This more recent use of materials which were originally collected for other purposes at other times has been substantial. As a result, the Mass-Observation Archive can be seen as a prime example of the ways in which social research data can be re-evaluated within new research frameworks, in response to new formulations of research questions, and even within entirely new methodological paradigms. This paper briefly describes the Archive and the history of its (secondary) exploitation. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0003266


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Author Biography

Dorothy Sheridan, University of Sussex

Dorothy SHERIDAN has been the Archivist at the Mass-Observation Archive since 1974 and has published a number of books and papers related to the collection. She is Head of Special Collections at the University of Sussex, Co-Director of the Centre for Life History Research and a Senior Lecturer in History.




How to Cite

Sheridan, D. (2000). Reviewing Mass-Observation: The Archive and its Researchers Thirty Years on. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(3).



Re-use and Secondary Analysis