The First Posters

In May 1940, a MoI memorandum had stated that “the best available brains should be conscripted at once. Big advertising agencies should be called into conference”. [Footnote 1] Although it was claimed that selling toothpaste involved ‘selling an idea’ as much as official propaganda did, [Footnote 2] M-O felt that not enough new thinking had […]

The Administrative Context: The Ministry of Information and Social Surveys

Propaganda was under much closer government control in the Second World War than in the First World War, when there was a variety of “agencies which – constantly merging and splitting – discharged the various functions related to morale, news, censorship and propaganda”. [Footnote 1] Not until 1918 was a Ministry of Information created, under […]

What are ‘propaganda’ and ‘poster’?

If we are to discuss the efficiency of government Home Front propaganda, specifically as regards the posters that the government produced, it is important that we have a clear idea of what is meant by a ‘poster’, and by ‘propaganda’. This chapter will aim to give some idea of the definitions of these words, with […]


In the fifty-two years since the end of the Second World War, modes of historical study have changed greatly. Emphases of study have changed from the study of great men to the study of the ordinary people, and the issues that concerned them. The posters produced during the Second World War are a part of […]

List of Pictorial Illustrations

Due to a desire by the Ministry of Information (MoI) to remain anonymous information concerning Second World War posters is very scanty, with dates and details of artists rarely available. Unless otherwise stated, posters are British, and seen/assumed to be the most common size: 20″ x 30″, with reproductions taken from postcards or IWM copies. […]