February 22, 2021, by Sarah

On trial: collections from Adam Matthew

We are pleased to bring you trial access to the Defining Gender and Mass Observation Online collections from Adam Matthew.

Defining Gender

The Defining Gender collection explores the study and analysis of gender, leisure and consumer culture. It includes primary source material from British archives and is of interest to users studying history, literature, sociology, education and cultural studies from a gendered perspective.

Documents are organised from selected libraries into the following themes to facilitate comparative study and research:

  • Conduct and Politeness
  • Domesticity and the Family
  • Consumption and Leisure
  • Education and Sensibility
  • The Body


Key topics that are addressed within these thematic areas include advice, appearance, anatomy, beauty, balls, birth, children, diet, dress, education, etiquette, entertaining, domestic service, fashion, games, health, marriage, medicine, midwifery, parents, recipes, religion, sexuality, sport, speech and theatre.


Included are documents by Jane Barker, Aphra Behn, Andrew Bell, Edward Carpenter, Susanna Centlivre, Nicholas Culpepper, Daniel Defoe, Maria Edgeworth, Eliza Haywood, Elizabeth Jocelyn, Margery Kempe, Joseph Lancaster, John Locke, Delarivier Manley, Gervase Markham, Harriet Martineau, Hannah More, Christine de Pisan, Richard Steele, Joseph Swetnam, Hannah Wolley, Mary Wollstonecraft and many other lesser-known writers and illustrators who have contributed to the gender debate.


Documents in the collection have been selected by a panel of 18 academic consultant editors. Each section features thematic essays by these leading scholars that relate directly to the source material with links to documentary evidence. They introduce students to the material, suggest possible approaches, and place the documents within an historical, literary and cultural context. The essays in each section provide an introduction to the resource.

In addition, this resource also includes the following secondary teaching aids:

  • Biographies on authors and characters featured within the resource
  • An interactive chronology charting the key dates of the primary source material

This trial will run until 10 March 2021.

Mass Observation Online

Mass Observation Online offers access to a key archive for the study of social history.

The material covers the:

  • end of the ‘Hungry Thirties’ when the impact of the Depression was still being felt;
  • onset of war, the Blitz and war on the home front;
  • post-war world, with the rise of consumerism and television.

The archive evidence of major trends such as the increasing role of women in work, the birth of the welfare state, antisemitism and anti-communism, the growth of secularism and the increasing importance of radio, television and cinema in people’s lives, as well as insight into such subjects as abortion, old age, eating habits, shopping, fashion, coal mining, sex, reading, and the decline of Empire. Through interviews, overheard conversations, directive responses and diary entries it offers cameos describing life in the jazz halls, what people thought of the movies they saw, how people survived the terror of the Blitz, and where they lived and worked.

The archive features:

  • a complete set of the File Reports, 1937-1951, with full-text searching ability
  • access to all of the Day Surveys 1937-1938, Directives 1939-1955 and Diaries, 1939-1967
  • topic Collections 1937-1965, with full-text searchability
  • the ‘Worktown Collection’
  • Mass-Observation Publications
  • eighteen contextual essays by leading scholars describing the archive and suggesting research and teaching strategies, and four occasional papers
  • photographs by Humphrey Spender, an interactive map and chronology, and much valuable supporting material

This trial will run until 16 March 2021.

Please send your feedback regarding both trials to collections@nottingham.ac.uk.

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