A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


(1) Areas covered

The Regional Organisation consists of twenty-three field investigators working in and around the following centres:-

North of England

Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston.


Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Nottingham

S. Wales


East Anglia

Ipswich, Peterborough.

South and South-West

Bristol, Exeter, Aylesbury, Winchester, Tunbridge Wells.


Glasgow (2 investigators)


(3 investigators)

The small towns are from time to time changed. Recently, for example, Leicester and Ipswich have been substituted for Rugby and Norwich.

The North-Eastern area of Scotland and North Wales are not covered, as the population of these areas is small and scattered.

The investigators cover an area around their central towns, which includes all places which they can reach within about an hour and a half’s journey. The Glasgow interviewers sometimes go to Edinburgh.

In most inquiries investigators work both in their central towns and in two other towns, or one other town and a rural area. London investigators each work in three boroughs or districts.

Rural areas are covered in East Anglia, the South, the South-West, and the North Midlands, and sometimes also in Scotland and the North of England.

(2) Type of Work

In general, samples of from 2,000 to 3,000 persons are interviewed in each inquiry, the field work taking two or three weeks.

In any one inquiry a number of different subjects may be dealt with, and often the questionnaires include questions for more than one Government Department.

Consequently the surveys are general rather than detailed. If a Department wishes to have an inquiry made which can be dealt with in two or three questions, these questions can be included in a Regional inquiry, along with others from different Departments, without its being necessary to devote a whole survey to them.

However, the Regional Organisation has also carried out some more detailed inquiries, devoting a whole questionnaire to one subject. Examples are inquiries into Dry Cleaning and Mending, and into Mending Services, for the Board of Trade, and into various types of Food Publicity for the Ministry of Food.

(3) Samples

Up to the present three types of sample have been interviewed.

  1. (a) Housewives. (index letter H.)

  2. (b) General: The whole adult civilian population. (index letter G.)

  3. (c) Industrial: Covering the bulk of the wage-earning population. (index letter I.)

Such samples are interviewed in the regular course of the work of the Regional Organisation, but special samples covering different groups can also be carried out when needed.

In general, a purposive method of sampling is used. In the Housewife inquiries, income group is used as chief control, in the General and Industrial samples, occupation group.

References to different income groups described as “Classes A, B, C and D” are explained as follows:-

Class A. Income of Principal wage-earner Over £500 p.a.
Class B Income of Principal wage-earner £250 - £500 p.a.
Class C Income of Principal wage-earner £170 - £250 p.a.
Class D Income of Principal wage-earner Under £150 p.a.

These divisions are only approximate and a number of factors such as occupation, type of house, district, etc. were used to determine to which group an informant should belong. Income was not actually asked.

In some general surveys where breakdowns by these groups are given, Classes A and B include housewives in these classes, and workers in professional and managerial positions; Classes C and D include housewives in these classes and all other workers.

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