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What's in your lockdown diary today?

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From what they have for breakfast to what’s on TV, people are asked to share their day today, May 12, in a project that will record UK life under lockdown - day 50.

The call from social researchers, Mass Observation, will this year give future generations a glimpse into ordinary lives during this extraordinary time in history.

The Blitz, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, The Falkland’s War and Brexit are among major events the project has logged in past years.

Today, Brits are again asked to write down everything they do from when they woke up in the morning to when they went to sleep at night as lockdown starts to lift.

Driven by the furore around King Edward’s Abdication crisis and a sense ordinary people’s views were not being heard, Mass Observation launched in the New Statesman in January 1937. It was started by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, film-maker Humphrey Jennings, and poet and Daily Mirror journalist Charles Madge. 

“Early participants were asked to record in diary form what happened to them on the twelfth day of each month beginning in February 1937,”said Dr Nick Hubble, co-director of Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing.”

“The founders knew the Coronation of George VI was going to take place on the 12th May 1937, so were able to collect information on the experience of that special day in comparison to daily life at other times of the year. The result was their first book-length publication, May the Twelfth: Mass-Observation Day-Surveys 1937.”

As the project snowballed, it shifted to asking volunteers what they thought about topics ranging from smoking and whether margarine was as good as butter, to the Munich crisis. 

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Mass Observation began working for the Ministry of Information, reporting on public morale and asking people to keep war diaries. Several of these have been published, including that of Nella Last, which was filmed in 2006 as the BAFTA-Award winning Housewife 49 starring Victoria Wood. 

The Mass Observation Archive still documents ‘everyday life’ in Britain, covering people’s experiences of key events including The Blitz, The Coronation, The Falkland’s War, September 11th and Brexit. The call for today’s diary entries runs until Monday 18 May. Submit yours here 
Find out more by emailing researchengagement@brunel.ac.uk