audience

Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by Tom Harrisson, Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings with the objective of enabling an ‘anthropology of ourselves’. Harrisson and Madge established a small observation team in Bolton, or ‘Worktown’, with the intention of observing and recording everyday life in a northern industrial town. The focus of interest was the working class population and as Harrisson was later to note, ‘nearly everybody who was not born into the working class regarded them as almost a race apart’. The Bolton team comprised a small number of full time observers and also recruited local people – amongst them Bill Naughton, at that time a lorry-driver - as helpers. Harrisson invited Humphrey Spender, who had been working as a photographer for the Daily Mirror, to join the Worktown team with a brief was to take candid photographs of people and situations to accompany the written records of the observation team. These photographs can be viewed on-line on Bolton Museum’s ‘Humphrey Spender’s Worktown’ at  http://boltonworktown.co.uk/