A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


In order to find out the extent to which various forms of publicity were remembered, informants were asked “Have you noticed posters, newspaper and magazine advertisements or wireless talks about the urgent need for nurses? Can you remember what they were about?” (Question 13)

(a) Posters

Working Women Secondary Schoolgirls
% %
Yes, had seen. 70 79 ± 4
No, had not seen. 30 21
Sample: 1967 354

What were the posters about?

The table below shows that of the working women and secondary schoolgirls who said they had seen posters, 38% and 26% respectively could not remember what they were about or gave incorrect answers. Because people gave more than one answer the percentage add to more than 100.

Posters remembered

Working Women Secondary Schoolgirls
% %
(1) Asking for volunteers.
Nurses and midwives urgently needed.
Your Country needs you.
36 28
(2) Picture of nurse at work or in uniform. 14 17
(3) Nursing as a career or profession. 8 14-4
(4) Nurse with thermometer. 6 20
(5) Appeals for nurses for Forces - picture of nurse with soldier or airman. 5 2
(6) Picture of nurse with babies or children. 4 7
(7) Midwifery - picture of a midwife. 5 9
(8) Incorrect answers e.g. Red Cross posters. 13 9
(9) Don’t know. 25 17
Sample: 1377
(70% working women)
(79% schoolgirls)

A considerable proportion of both working women and schoolgirls noted the message of the posters without describing other details (group 1 in table).

It would appear from the fact that the working women more frequently mentioned the appeal for nurses posters (groups 1 and 5 in the table) than the secondary schoolgirls did, that working women were more impressed by the urgency of the need. The schoolgirls noticed more specific points.

The picture of the nurse with the thermometer was much more frequently mentioned by schoolgirls than by working women. Perhaps secondary schoolgirls become more familiar with the word thermometer and the instrument through their science classes.

Copies of all posters issued by the Campaigns Division of the Ministry of Information were to hand to help identify the posters mentioned by informants.

This was also the case with newspaper advertisements.

There are no statistically significant differences in the proportions noticing posters in different occupation groups.

Analysis by age is as follows:-

16-20 21-24 25-29 30-34 Total
% % % % %
Yes, had seen 73 72 64 60 70
No, had not seen 26 28 35 39 30
Sample: 985 460 299 222 1967

The younger groups more frequently remembered the posters than the older groups.

Analysis by regions showed one statistically significant difference - posters were rather less frequently noticed by working women in Scotland (61 ± 6% as against 70% of the whole sample).

30. 31.

(b) Newspaper and magazine advertisements

Working Women Secondary Schoolgirls
% %
Yes, had seen 63 76
No, had not seen 37 23
No information - 1
Sample: 1967 354

The proportion of working women who saw the newspaper advertisements is lower than the proportion who saw posters. Schoolgirls saw the newspaper advertisements more frequently than working women, and there is no statistically significant difference between the proportion of schoolgirls who saw these and who saw posters.

Of the number saying they had seen newspaper advertisements, 33% working women and 23% secondary schoolgirls could not remember what they had seen or gave wrong answers, as against 38% and 26% respectively in the case of posters.

These particular advertisements seen in newspapers and magazines were mentioned

Working Women Secondary Schoolgirls
% %
(1) Asking for volunteers
Nurses and midwives urgently needed
Your Country needs you
34 30 ± 6
(2) Nursing as a career or profession 10 4
(3) Application forms 7 11 ± 4
(4) Midwifery - picture of midwife 7 6
(5) Picture of a nurse 6 10
(6) Conditions, pay, holidays 6 9
(7) Picture of nurse with babies and children 5 7
(8) Nurse with soldier, airman 3 3
(9) Wrong e.g. Red Cross posters 7 3
(10) Don’t know 26 20
Sample: 1233
(63% working women)
(76% schoolgirls)

As informants gave more than one answer, percentages add to more than 100.

As with posters, a considerable proportion of both working women and secondary schoolgirls noted the message without describing other details of the advertisement (group 1 of table).

The most marked difference shown between the two groups is in the percentages noticing “Nursing as a career” advertisements; 10% working women and 4% schoolgirls. Yet the position is reversed in the case of posters, 8% working women and 14% secondary schoolgirls noticed the “career” poster.

Analysis by occupation is as follows:-

Factory - war Factory - Non-war Clerical Distributive Miscellaneous
% % % % %
Yes, had seen 59 57 69 68 63
No, had not seen 40 43 30 32 36
No information 1 - 1 1 1
Sample: 510 465 399 339 254

It may be that the incidence of newspaper reading differs in the various occupation groups. the Clerical and Distributive groups show higher proportion noticing newspaper advertisements than do the Factory groups.

Again perhaps the education analysis may help to explain this difference.

Elem. All others
% %
Yes, had seen 59 71
No, had not seen 41 29
Sample: 1315 433

Analysis by age shows one slight difference. Only 55 ± 6% of women workers over 30 had noticed newspaper advertisements compared with 63% of the whole sample that had noticed them.

Some differences are shown among different regions.

Scotland Northern England Midlands & Wales S., S.W. & E. Anglia London Total
% % % % % %
Yes, had seen. 67 56 ± 4 62 77 53 ± 6 63
No, had not seen. 31 44 57 23 47 37
No information. 2 - - - - -
Sample: 213 590 448 431 285 1967

A lower proportion of working women in London and the North had noticed these advertisements. A relatively high proportion had seen them in the Southern regions.

These differences may, of course, be dependent on the relative amounts of publicity given in the local papers of different regions.


(c) Wireless Talks

21% working women and 25% secondary schoolgirls said they had heard wireless talks on nursing.

The following subjects were mentioned by working women who had heard talks.

Appeals for nurses. 43%
Improved conditions. 13
Nursing in war-time and various postscripts. 13
Miscellaneous (including wrong). 9
Careers. 2
Don’t know. 23
Sample: 413 (21% working women)

The number of schoolgirls who answered the second part of the question was too small for results to be given.

In order to find out from what sources other than the media dealt with in Question 13, informants had gained ideas about nursing, they were asked “From what other sources have you heard about nursing?” (Question 14)

Other sources of information Working Women Secondary Schoolgirls
% %
(1) Friend or relative who is or was a doctor or nurse - speaking to nurses. 31 55
(2) Have been a patient in hospital, spent time in hospital, visited patients. 10 13
(3) Talking with friends (not specified as a nurse). 9 14
(4) From Red Cross, 1 st Aid, Youth Centre, G.T.C. etc. meetings and lectures. 7 9
(5) Films 4 2
(6) Books, Nursing Mirror, Novels, Pamphlets. 3 7
(7) School. 1 16
(8) Exhibitions, photos in shop windows. - 2
None. 32 8
Don’t know. 9 3
Sample: 1967 354

Groups (1) and (3) taken together show that 40% of the working women and 69% secondary schoolgirls said they had gained information from friends or relatives, the majority of whom were or had been nurses or doctors.

The second most important source of information for the schoolgirls was the school.

10% of the women and 13% schoolgirls mentioned direct contact with hospitals.

Of the working women 32% said that they had no source of information and 9% could give no answer to the question. Of the schoolgirls 8% said they had no sources of information and 3% had no answer to the question.

It is noticeable that a much larger percentage of working women than of schoolgirls gave no source of information from which they had gained knowledge of nursing.

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