What is May 12th?


Each year on May 12th, the Mass Observation Archive invites people from across the UK to submit a diary account of their day. This event first took place on 12th May 1937, the day of King George VI’s coronation, and has now become an annual tradition – providing a snapshot of what is happening in people’s everyday lives across the country.

This year, on Tuesday 12th May 2015, the Mass Observation Archive would like to invite children and young people to take part in this event, and to share a day in their life. In the video below, a group of young people and their parents explain why they think you should take record your day on May 12th.



Recording your day


Traditionally the Mass Observation Archive has invited people to record a written diary of their day. On May 12th this year, children and young people are invited to record a day in their life in whatever way they like – using sound, video, photographs, pictures, or even a written diary if you would prefer. Below are a few examples of day diaries in video form recorded by young people for the Mass Observation Archive.

In the diary of your day, you might want to include important things such as: what you do, who you meet, what you talk about, what you eat and drink, the places you visit, the things you read, see and hear around you – and, of course, what you yourself think.




Sharing your diary with the Archive


Diaries should be in electronic form as email attachments (to moa@sussex.ac.uk) or alternatively you can bring them along to a special ‘Your Life in a Day’ event at the Mass Observation Archive Building – The Keep – on Saturday 23rd May (see below).

In your diary, you should try and avoid having information or images that are too personal or identifying. As part of a new ‘Everyday Childhoods’ collection at the Mass Observation Archive, these diaries will be read and used for research and teaching, so try to avoid including anything that may identify you or others.

So that your diary can be added to the rest of the Archive for the future, you’ll need to include the statement below at the end of your diary. If you don’t attach this statement, Mass Observation won’t be able to keep your diary or make it part of the Archive:

“I donate my 12th 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 out more information about submitting your diary at: http://www.massobs.org.uk/12may


Join us on 23rd May for the ‘Your Life in a Day’ workshop


On Saturday 23rd May (10am-1pm) at the Mass Observation Archive building (The Keep), a free family workshop will be held where you can learn more about recording and archiving a record of your day. The event will include members of the Everyday Childhoods project, sharing examples from our ‘day in a life’ studies, as well as Cameraheads from the Youth Photography Project.

Visit the Brighton Fringe Festival webpage for more details:


Information on how to find The Keep can be found here: http://www.thekeep.info/visit_us/getting-here/ 


Information for parents, carers and those working with children and young people


May 12th is a fantastic opportunity for children and young people to document a day in their life and to contribute to a historical record of everyday life dating back to 1937. You can help by encouraging them to take part and by providing opportunities to record different parts of their day. If you work in a school, club or youth organisation, why not make May 12th an activity all of the children and young people you work with can take part in? May 12th is a unique chance for children and young people to show what an ordinary (or extraordinary) day in their life looks like.

May 3rd, 2015

Posted In: Blog

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