A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



The questionnaire Appendix IV has been designed as a recording schedule rather than a list of questions and its main purpose was to convey to the field worker the questions to be asked and to make the recording of the answers to those questions easy and at the same time to make it possible to transfer the answers to punch cards in the shortest possible space of time. It is likely, therefore, that many parts of it are unintelligible except to the field workers. The following is a brief account of the questions asked.


In the classification the name of the town and the zone where this applied was indicated by ringing the appropriate code number. A record was made of the type of house, whether terraced, flatted, single storey self-contained, or two storey self-contained, or a tenement; whether the district was congested or open and whether it was noisy or quiet; whether the house was owned by a local authority, a private owner, rented in relation to a particular job, or owned by the occupier. The age of the house was also classified to show whether it was built before the last war or in the period 1919 - 1939.

The Family

For each member of the family the following information was obtained:- sex, relationship, (whether husband or wife, or married children, or unmarried children), status, (whether married or single), age, nature of the job, (whether skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled, etc.) and the industry in which they worked. A record was made of members of the family absent on war work or in the forces.

For the wife a series of questions were asked about place of work, local shopping centre, main shopping centre, elementary school, secondary school, parks, children’s playground and sports ground, and a shorter list of questions was asked about place of worship, cinema, club hall or meeting place and clinic.

The questions asked about the first group were (1) “How often the wife went to these places of interest”: these answers were grouped under the headings ‘Seldom or Never’, ‘Every day’, ‘2 or 3 times a week’, ‘Once a week’ and ‘Occasionally’, or ‘Less than once a week’, (2) “The distance travelled to the place of interest”: these distances were grouped as, ‘Under 600 yards’ (about ¼ mile), ‘600 to 1,100 yards’, (about ½ miles). ‘1,100 yards to 1¼ miles’, (about 1 mile), ‘1¼ to 3½ miles’ and ‘Over 3½ miles’. These distances were measured on the 6 inch to the mile map after consultation with the informants. The time take to visit these places was asked and times were similarly grouped as ‘Up to 12 minutes’ (about 10 minutes), ‘13-22 minutes’ (from 15-20 minutes) and ‘23-40 minutes’ (½ hour) and ‘Over 40 minutes’. These times were the informants’ estimate. The method of transport for these journeys was asked and the weekly travelling cost was derived from the cost of the journey. The zones of the places of interest were noted in the large towns. The housewife was then asked “Whether she considered the relation of her present house to the place of interest a convenient one” and whether she considered it ‘Very important’, or ‘Somewhat important’, or ‘Not important’ to have the place of interest near to her home.

The questions asked about the other group of interests - place of worship, cinema, etc. - were “How often they were visited”, “The distance travelled to them”, “Whether or not the house was conveniently situated the them” and “How important she considered it was to have her home near to this centre of interest”.

The housewife was also asked at the same time about interests not on our list which she mentioned.

The second part of the questionnaire was concerned with her present house and the housewife’s ideas about the sort of house she would like in the future and where she would prefer to live.

The questions to the husband and unmarried adults followed very closely those addressed to the wife, but the questions about interests were confined to a much shorter list - place of work, sports ground, club and any others mentioned by the informants.


The pre-coding or grouping of the answers into a relatively small number was done on the basis of an extensive pilot inquiry. In the inquiry of this nature some grouping of answers must be done in order to make the results of a large number of questionnaires intelligible. This may be done when the inquiry is completed but it was done in this case as the result of the preliminary inquiry. The field worker had then only to code the answer in the appropriate group.

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