Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


American Institute of Public Opinion Records

Dates: 1945-1952.

The records of the American Institute of Public Opinion consist of press releases summarizing the results of Gallup Polls from 1945 to 1952. These public opinion surveys dealt with a wide variety of topics, including the popularity of President Harry S. Truman and his policies, the appointment of women as ambassadors, and the likelihood of a Third World War.

[Administrative Information | Organizational History | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one-half of one linear foot (about 600 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: The library has received no donation of copyright interest in this collection.
Processed by: C. Warren Ohrvall (1972)
Updated by: Anna Rodriguez-Cotter (2002) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Carol Briley and Randy Sowell.


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ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

The American Institute of Public Opinion was founded by Dr. George Gallup in 1935. The stated purpose of this organization was "impartially to measure and report public opinion on political and social issues of the day without regard to the rightness or wisdom of the views expressed."

The institute conducted "Gallup polls" on a wide variety of issues. The results of these national surveys were then distributed to subscribing newspapers in the form of press releases.

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The records of the American Institute of Public Opinion consist of press releases dating from May 11, 1945 to November 12, 1952. These press releases, which are arranged chronologically in a single series, present the results of Gallup polls conducted during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. Their author was Dr. George Gallup, the founder and director of the Institute, who used the press releases to summarize and interpret the results of his polls for American newspaper readers.

Gallup's national surveys reflected wide fluctuations in Mr. Truman's popularity, from an 87 percent approval rating in July 1945 to a 23 percent rating in December 1951. In many of the polls, Truman was matched against other actual or potential candidates for president in the 1948 and 1952 elections. In his press release of November 1, 1948, Gallup confidently predicted that Governor Thomas E. Dewey would win the next day's presidential election by a substantial margin. Truman's upset victory led to an investigation of the Institute's polling procedures, and in subsequent press releases Gallup sought to explain what had gone wrong, and suggested various improvements.

Other polls measured the extent of public support for such Truman administration initiatives as the Marshall Plan, aid to Greece, civil rights legislation, federal aid to education, national health insurance, and the appointment of a U.S. diplomatic representative to the Vatican. Gallup's pollsters also asked respondents to identify the person they most admired, and what they liked most and least about President Truman. Additional surveys dealt with the danger of a Third World War, how the Korean War should be funded, and whether women should be appointed as ambassadors. Results were sometimes broken down by gender, region of the country, and profession. A few Gallup polls dealing with issues of international importance were taken in European countries.

More information about public opinion polls and the 1948 campaign can be found at the Truman Library in the papers of Clark M. Clifford and in the records of the Democratic National Committee.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 PUBLIC OPINION NEWS SERVICE RELEASES, 1945 - 1952
Press releases summarizing Gallup Poll results on major issues during the Truman administration. Arranged chronologically.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST
Box 1
  • 1945
  • 1946
  • 1947
  • 1948
  • 1949
  • 1950
  • 1951
  • 1952

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