In The Past Tense

6th December 2011

A visit to the Mass Observation archive at the University of Sussex.

Road Safety – 1946-55

Typewritten material (including typing errors XXX). An agenda – the following points…

The purpose of road safety posters.

Rules and regulations (idea – ‘Timelapse’ text presented in a ‘letter’ format). Reference – ‘The Black Widow’ (1946), ‘The Crippled Boy’ (defeating the object of public awareness ?).

Survey – class, age, geography.

Format – punctuation – descriptive text.

Images – Ink stamps, rusted paperclips (leaving an imprint on the paper).

Interviews – speaking from (off) the page. Evocative – the musty smell of paper akin to that of a church interior.

The science of study – Mass Observation through percentage sheets.

Contacts – telephone exchange abbreviations (Hackney = AMA)

Ideas for text – format – graph paper, survey quality – charts, lists, corrections and additions.

Pocket diary – abstracting – DD/MM/YR, national holidays and phases of the moon etc…

Consumer Goods –

Proverb – ‘you can always try with a widow’.

New technology – early word processors – font/writing styles – a combination of pen/ink and WP.

Highlighter pens – lifting text off the page.

Different colour pages – yellow, green, bright blue – never black !

Letter headings – an official touch (the crown).

Photocopied handwriting – an increased rarity.

Railway Posters – 1939

The survey of posters – the criteria…

A percentage game -categories (liked and disliked). How to quantify ?

Poster slogan – ‘…and still the railways carry on !’

Text – capital letter (or not).

Comments – ‘there’s too much to read’.

Feedback – the colour, the light, the text.

Servicemen at a railway – results laid out like a (football) league table –

Pad   Liv   Wat

1. Kit Bags               4         4       3

2. Full Kit               20      27    23

3. Neither              16          9     14


Image –                          (aquamarine ?) mackintosh.




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