Mass-Observing Covid-19


  • University of Sussex, United Kingdom

Project summary

Mass-Observation (M-O) has been recording everyday life in Britain since 1937. Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, we have collected over 8500 pieces of narrative life writing, ranging in format from open-questionnaire responses and day diaries to diaries kept for several months by self-selecting volunteers of all ages from around the UK. This unique set of large-scale qualitative data offers extensive research value and potential to contextualise quantitative data generated throughout the pandemic. 

This project will open up the extensive collections of qualitative data relating to the impact of Covid-19 on the mental and physical health and social welfare of volunteer writers around the UK. We will build a tool for discovery and exploration that allows researchers to interrogate these collections. 

A database will comprise metadata on the writers and writing that enables researchers across disciplines to interrogate the content of the data, thereby contributing to our understanding of the social and personal impact on UK health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. The tool is designed to open up access to the texts that have been submitted, allowing researchers to select relevant materials and export the data into their own choice of research tools for analysis.