Mass Observation Communities Online Project
What was the Mass Observation Communities Online Project (MOCO)?
Mass Observation has been recording everyday life in the UK since 1937 through diaries, questionnaires and observations. The Mass Observation Communities Online (MOCO) project aimed to inspire and assist people to record the life and history of their own communities, using the research methods developed by Mass Observation.
What were our aims?
The project aimed to provide a valuable teaching tool for individuals, groups and institutions that wished to expand their knowledge of historical, and current, Mass Observation and its techniques. The project website continues to serve as an inspirational resource for community organisations looking for ways to develop and expand their own histories and archives.
The project ran as part of the JISC Developing Community Content Projects.
How did MOCO work?
Through simple methods such as diary writing and photography, community groups were encouraged to document their working and everyday lives. Participating community groups instructed their members on how to submit contributions via the MOCO site. These contributions (diary entries, questionnaire replies, photos, videos or observational tasks) are displayed on the MOCO site, and have been shared with the community organisation so that they can develop their own archive. All material collected during the project will also be donated to the prestigious Mass Observation Archive, housed at the University of Sussex.
How long did the MOCO project run for?
The MOCO project ran for a six month period and accepted submissions to the website until September 20th 2010. The website will continue to be hosted for at least three years beyond the end of the project.
We endeavoured to involve as many different kinds of community, support and interest groups as possible and were extremely pleased with the number and variety of collaborations we achieved. See here for a full list of MOCO groups.
Will MOCO become active again?
Although the MOCO project is now closed indefinitely, there is a possibility that the project will be taken up by the Mass Observation Archive in the future. If you wish to register an interest in such future activity please contact MOA .
What is the Mass Observation Archive?
The Mass Observation Archive (MOA) was founded in 1937 by three young men who aimed to create an 'anthropology of ourselves'. They recruited a team of observers and a large group of volunteer writers to document the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. This recording of domestic, working and personal life on the home front gained important ground during the war and post-war years, and continued in its original form until the early 1950s.
In 1970, the Archive came to the University of Sussex and was opened up as a public resource for historical research. The Archive holds all the material generated by Mass Observation between 1937 and 1949, with a few later additions from the 1950s and 1960s.
The original Mass Observation idea of a national panel was revived from the Archive in 1981. Through the press, television and radio, new volunteer writers or 'Mass Observation correspondents' were recruited from all over Britain. The project continues under the direction of Dorothy Sheridan.
Thanks to Adam Matthew Digital the MOCO project is able, for the first time, to make digitized Mass Observation material available online outside of Higher Education Institutions.