A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



The reports in Section 1 - Food Schemes - deal with public attitudes towards the various wartime measures adopted by the Ministry of Food.

Included are, Rationing, Points Rationing, National and Priority Milk, National Wheatmeal Bread, British Restaurants, Price Control, Sweets Rationing, Oranges for Children, Cod-Liver Oil and Fruit Juices For children.

The inquiries were carried out between May, 1942 and February, 1943, and were regarded as separate pieces of work, each done for its own purpose, and not as a comprehensive study of reactions to wartime food measures.

However the purposes of the separate inquiries had this in common. They were all designed to measure the degree of approval and disapproval, content and discontent, with which the public received the different food schemes.

In many cases the same problem has been approached from more than one angle as for instance in the two reports entitled “Food Schemes”. In the first inquiry housewives were asked which food schemes they would like continued after the war. In the second they were asked which they considered had been successful and which unsuccessful. The reports on Rationing (V and VI) show respectively the results of a general question “what do you think about rationing?” and some more specific questions on the subject. The question on National Wheatmeal bread was repeated after an interval of nine months.

Thus many comparisons can be made of different approaches to the same question, and in the later reports reference is sometimes made to earlier ones.

In some inquiries general and open questions were asked first and followed up by more specific questions. In some cases, Sweets Rationing for example, particular aspects of the subject in which the Ministry of Food were most interested have been studied.

The reports have been arranged with similar subjects next to one another. In individual reports results are given first for the whole sample and then broken down for comparison to be made between different groups where the numbers concerned are sufficient.

As the questions asked formed a part of a questionnaire dealing also with other subjects, the questionnaires have not been reproduced, but the questions are given in the text of the report. Details of the sample are given at the end of each report.

In Section 2 - Publicity - the reports deal with reactions to Ministry of Food Publicity. The inquiries were carried out between May, 1942 and January, 1943.

Different types of publicity have been studied for different special purposes. In the case of the Kitchen Front, the suitability of the time the programme was the main point in which the Ministry was interested and the Food Values inquiries an attempt was made to measure public knowledge of this subject without reference to particular advertisements.

In other cases, newspaper advertisements, films, demonstrations, both the incidence of observation and knowledge of contents were studied.

The longer reports are written up under separate section headings, whilst the shorter reports are in the form of notes and represent the results of single questions in questionnaires mainly devoted to other subjects.

The collection of reports in Section 3 - Shopping and Shortages - the results of some inquiries carried out between May, 1942 and March, 1943. The inquiries were carried out as separate pieces of work but all deal with problems of food distribution, shopping and shortages.

The longer reports are written up under separate headings, whilst shorter report are in the form of notes and represent the results of single questions in questionnaires mainly devoted to other subjects. In report No. VII on vegetables, however, the questionnaire is given as in this case the whole questionnaire was devoted to one subject.

In these 3 reports references to different income groups described as follows:-

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

These division 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 breakdowns by these classes, workers in professional and managerial positions: Classes C and D include housewives in these classes and all other workers.

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