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Meet Yourself at the Doctors (Paperback)

15th April 2009

Mass Observation was founded by Tom Harrisson, Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings in 1937. Its purpose was to create 'an anthropology of ourselves' in other words, to study the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain.

Meet Yourself

Discounting an initial pamphlet, this was the twentieth book to be published. It appears in "Faber Finds" as a part of an extensive reissue programme of the original Mass Observation titles. Both Meet Yourself at the Doctor's and its companion "Meet Yourself on Sunday" were first published in 1949 towards the end of Mass Observation's initial period. They share something else in common: they are both gloriously illustrated by Ronald Searle.

This Mass Observation study was written at a particularly interesting time, a year after the creation of the National Health Service. Patients describe their experiences in waiting-rooms and consulting-rooms, the children's clinic is seen through the eyes of the mothers who visit it, a doctor discusses his daily-round, and, a hospital patient describes how it feels to be the subject of a bedside clinic. The sum is a vivid piece of social history, a first-hand report of unmatched immediacy.

In its first period, from 1937 to 1950, it published twenty-two books, many of which are being reissued in Faber Finds. These books constitute a unique social history of the period. Since 1970 the Mass Observation Archive has been at Sussex University.

In 1981 the New Mass Observation Project was born. It is run from the Archive under the direction of Dorothy Sheridan. The Archive is a magnificent resource which continues to provide rich material for books. Recent publications have included Nella Last's War, Nella Last's Peace, Our Longest Days (all published by Profile) and three selections of Mass Observation Diaries of the Second World War and just after , edited by Simon Garfield and published by Ebury Press.

 

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