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Past, present and future of public opinion polling (Released: 11/17/95)

by Luis Mocete, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- As pollsters begin to gear up for the 1996 presidential election, the biggest names in polling will gather in the Simon and Doris Konover Auditorium of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Monday, Nov. 27 at 2:30 p.m. George Gallup Jr., Burns (Bud) Roper and Helen Crossley will discuss the past, present and future of the survey research industry.

These families are the founders of what has become a huge industry, one that influences major business decisions and presidential elections, said John Barry, associate director of the Roper Center and the Institute of Social Inquiry. Their experiences span the entire history of survey research in the United States.

The three pollsters will donate their fathers personal papers to the University. They will become part of a new collection in public opinion at the Dodd Center.

George Gallup Jr. has followed in the footsteps of his father, George Gallup Sr., as senior executive of what is the world's most famous polling organization.

Bud Roper, who has recently stepped down as head of the International Public Opinion and Market Research Organization that his father founded in 1933, has served as chair on the Roper Center board.

Helen Crossley s father Archibald, is best known for his development of the methodology that has become the Nielsen ratings. She recently retired from the United States Information Agency (USIA), which specializes in international survey work for U.S. policy makers. USIA also educates officials in emerging democracies in survey research techniques and methodology.

The Roper Center, which is not affiliated with the Roper organization, has been at UConn since 1977. It holds the largest U.S. collection of public opinion poll questions asked nationally from 1936 to the present. Elmo Roper was a firm believer that poll data would be of great value to historians and other scholarly researchers. With the support of Gallup and Crossley, Roper established a research center for this information at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. in 1946.

As the archives grew, Williams could not accommodate the volume of material itself or the demand for access to it. A search for a new home began and the center relocated to the University of Connecticut.

Having the major data archives along with the personal papers of these families will strengthen the University's academic position as one of the nation s leading institutions in public opinion research, said Norman Stevens, acting director of the Dodd Center.

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