Browsing posts in the category: Mass Observers

Posts relating to the founders and principle members of the Mass Observation movement

Hindoo Man

Tom Harrisson, leader of the Worktown study was an early advocate of the Jack Kerouac school of writing. Other Mass Observers describe his manic, mammoth writing bouts,  from which he would emerge dazed, and sometimes quite smelly. Observer Walter Hood describes him typing away with a George Formby 78 playing over and over again on […]

The Illuminations

Bolton’s Mass-Observers made a mass trip to Blackpool to observe during the September 1937 holiday week. The mills of Bolton would close for a week at a time so workers came to the town alongside their workmates to enjoy the ‘Paris of the North’. The Northern mill towns staggered their holidays so that the cotton […]

A Cannibal comes to Bolton. Part 2.

Continuing on from here… where our friendly Cannibal is finding it strangely difficult to get anything to eat in Bolton.  He looked thoughtfully at the eels and lobsters in the window and then, feeling in his pockets to make sure that small change was handy, pressed down the latch of the door. To his surprise […]

A Cannibal comes to Bolton. Part 1.

The leader of Mass-Observation’s Worktown study of Bolton was the remarkable Tom Harrisson. His previous anthropological study of tribes in the New Hebrides led him to take a particular interest in the religious life of Bolton. He saw parallels between church and tribal rituals. A book examining religion in Bolton was planned after John Sommerfield’s […]

Past and present future

The original photograph was taken by Humphrey Spender on Davenport St, Bolton, in September 1937.

Spender and the Conservative ladies

A small number of Humphrey Spender’s written observations have survived in the Mass-Observation Archive. These texts really bring the photographs to life giving both factual information and an insight into Spender’s experiences photographing in Bolton. The observation below was made at the Conservative Club Rooms, in Farnworth on January 24th 1938 where volunteers were helping […]

Julian Trevelyan’s Suitcase

Artist Julian Trevelyan was part of the team of Mass-Observers in Bolton. Tom Harrisson, leader of the Worktown survey at the time, asked him and other artists to paint and draw in the streets of the town. Trevelyan was inspired by Surrealism at the time and used collage to record the street scenes in the […]

Hear Hear Labour! Hear Hear Conservatives!

As we approach this week’s local elections across the UK it is interesting or perhaps depressing to see how little party political rhetoric has evolved in 74 years. Mass-Observation recorded which statements by candidates got a ‘hear, hear!’ from the audience at pre-election rallies for the 1938 Farnworth parliamentary by-election. The accompanying photographs were taken […]

The Humphrey Jennings Collection: Volume 2 now available

The second volume of Mass Observation co-founder Humphrey Jennings’ war time documentaries has just become available on the BFI filmstore website. “Widely considered to be one of Britain’s greatest filmmakers, Humphrey Jennings has long been celebrated as the director of works which beautifully capture everyday heroism in times of war and peace. This, the second […]

The funeral of J. Shaw

The funeral of J. Shaw of Davenport St. Heaton Cemetery, 21st September 1937, 2.00pm. 1993.83.1.27