This chapter introduces the different agencies involved in poster production, particularly the Ministry of Information (MOI). The administrative history of the MOI in the Second World War has already been well covered by McLaine and Balfour. This chapter briefly considers the pre-war plans for the MOI. War was anticipated in 1935, and planning was started, and the experience of the First World War was looked to, although records had been mislaid. There were problems with implementing plans for the MOI due to conflict with many government departments, which now had publicity departments and did not want to give up their responsibilities to a central organisation. The general perception of the MOI is as a disorganised and shambolic organisation, although this idea is being challenged more recently, with recognition that extensive and pragmatic, but over-idealised, plans were made. Media reactions were largely negative, possibly because of restrictions on free press. In September 1938 the Munich Crisis occurred, and the MOI was mobilised for two days. It was still considered not to be ready. The MOI became a formal government Ministry in September 1939, and went through four different Ministers in the war: Macmillan, Reith, Cooper, Bracken. The chapter looks at the role of the poster division within the MOI (under Edwin Embleton), and its relations with other departments.
This chapter considers how posters were commissioned, produced and distributed, and how much control the government had over this process. It questions who made the decisions, and how much control there was over design, for artists and for the government. The chapter questions whether artists offered their services or whether they were chosen. If they were chosen, were they chosen for their reputations, from the traditional or modern design fields, or from the graphic design professions? Were any of the associated professions reserved occupations? Were the posters produced in house or by outside agencies? The chapter looks at how the posters were distributed (on a national or local level), and whether it was voluntary or compulsory to display them.
The final part of the chapter will focus on the commissioning, production and distribution of the first government campaign: Your Courage. Many believed that the poster demonstrated a lack of planning, but the planning began early in 1939. The design was ‘traditional’, in the style of a proclamation, with a message from the Crown. The poster was generally perceived as a failure, and this chapter questions how accurate this view was, and whether the campaign was a self-perpetuating failure because of bad press. Largely based upon The National Archive (Public Record Office) INF Files.
See: Extract from thesis
- Balfour, Michael Propaganda in War 1939-1945, Organisations, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany 1979 See More… (Out of Print)
- Chapman, J. The British at War: Cinema, State and Propaganda, 1939-1945 1997 See More…
- Cooper, D. Old Men Forget: An Autobiography of Duff Cooper 1953 (Out of Print)
- Cruickshank, C.Fourth Arm: Psychological Warfare: Psychological Warfare 1938-45 1975 (Out of Print)
- Grant, M.Propaganda and the Role of the State in Inter-War Britain 1994 (Out of Print)
- Macmillan, Lord A Man of Law’s Tale 1952
- Mass-Observation Change No. 2 1939
- McLaine, I. Ministry of Morale: Home Front Morale and the Ministry of Information in World War Two 1979 See More… (Out of Print)
- Nicolson, N. (Ed) Diaries and Letters: Harold Nicolson (The War Years 1939-1945) 1967 (Out of Print)
- Reith, J. Into the Wind 1949
- Stuart, C. The Reith Diaries 1975 (Out of Print)
- Taylor, P.M. ‘If War Should Come: Preparing the Fifth Arm for Total War 1935-1939′, Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 16, 1981
- Taylor, P.M.The Projection of Britain: British Overseas Publicity and Propaganda 1919-1939 1981(Out of Print)
- Weight, R., ‘State, Intelligentsia and the Promotion of National Culture in Britain, 1939-45′, Historical Research Vol. 69, No. 168, February 1996
- Willcox, T., ‘Towards a Ministry of Information’, History Vol. 69, pp.398-414. October 1984