As the digital revolution rolls on, it is sometimes forgotten that print too can be innovative. Print Power is a series of audio slideshows exploring some of the most inspirational and unusual moments in print.
Part 2: Us
Us was a magazine comprised almost entirely of diary entries and direct quotes from the British public during 1940.
It was created as part of a social research project started in 1937 called Mass Observation, which aimed to record public behaviour and attitudes.
There were 17 weekly issues of the magazine published between February and May 1940. The contributors were a mixture of normal everyday people, those from a national panel of volunteer writers and investigators who observed others on behalf of the project.
Topics covered by the magazine included attitudes towards the war, how information was being distributed by the government and living conditions during this time as well as lighter themes such as relationships and family planning.
Despite the Big Brother-esque quality to it, Us was a popular magazine, owing to its reasonable three pence cover price and the fact that it catered to the British public’s “inherent nosiness”, according to Fiona Courage, curator of the Mass Observation archive.
XCity spoke to Fiona about how the magazine empowered the general public, its critique of the government’s propaganda and why it was so popular at the time.
Video and text by Nicola Merrifield