The Ministry of Information (MOI) is the focus of a major AHRC-funded research project being undertaken by Professor Simon Eliot of the Institute of English Studies in collaboration with Paul Vetch of the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London.
On 28 July 1939 Samuel Hoare, the British Home Secretary, provided the House of Commons with an update on the progress being made to establish a Ministry of Information (MOI) in the event of war. He explained that the intention was to ‘build up a comprehensive and efficient machine that would be able to work as soon as war came upon us’ and that efforts had been made to consult as widely as possible. He stressed that he had made ‘contacts with people in every walk of life and every kind of opinion’.
As explained by a previous post on this blog Ministry Worth Exploring, the MOI provides a unique case study for historians of communication. Using all available methods, this was always a two-way process, with the MOI responsible for both the dissemination and the monitoring of information. It was in this sense that the first Minister of Information, the Scottish Law Lord Hugh Macmillan, described his department as a ‘vehicle of communication between the Government and the public at home and abroad’.
It is in a similar spirit that we announce the launch of MOI Digital. This website is the online home of the ‘Publishing and Communications History of the Ministry of Information’ project and details of our scholarly activities and a regularly updated blog. It also provides an opportunity for you to engage with the project’s development by contributing to its findings. This is important. After all, as Hoare acknowledged, ‘however good our machine may be, the real thing that matters is the record that we have to tell.’