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Exploring the Andrew Kohut Collection

January 26, 2018

Andrew Kohut 2014 Mitofsky Award winner

When most people think about the Roper Center, they think data. While data and datasets are what the Center is about for the most part, there are collections at the Center that provide context beyond the numbers, including material about the people who made the polls. As the archivist hired to process the Andrew Kohut collection (he was commonly known as “Andy”), I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to share some of these unique documents with you.

Andy Kohut was president of the Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989; in 1990 he was the director of surveys for the Times Mirror Center. In 1993 Andy became the founding director of what eventually became the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. From 2004 to 2012 he was president of that organization.

This collection includes materials directly related to his polling work as well as the high-level meetings and conferences he often participated in both nationally and abroad, and his frequent  TV appearances, especially during presidential elections. Andy commanded a great deal of respect among his peers, and the high regard in which he was held comes through in the letters and other documents in the collection. Perhaps of greatest interest to those conducting polling research, memos and reports show how Andy developed questions for polls that got at the heart of the issue and helped us understand what people were thinking and feeling at any one point in time.

In the coming months, I will be sharing more from the collection with you. The following documents provide some first insights into the collection. Click each image for a larger size.

letter from Hillary Clinton to Andrew Kohut
Fig. 1

Letter from former First Lady, Secretary of State, and Democratic Presidential Nominee in 2016, Hillary Rodham Clinton, indicates the connections Andy had with Washington’s political elite. January 30, 2013.

letter from Committee on Foreign Affairs to Andrew Kohut
Fig. 2

Letter from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, inviting Andy to testify at a hearing entitled “Restoring America’s Reputation in the World: Why it Matters.” February 19, 2010.

letter from John Holden to Andrew Kohut
Fig. 3

Letter from John L. Holden, President of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, thanking Andy for his “terrific contributions to our meetings in Beijing.” January 27, 2000

bobblehead carving of Andrew Kohut
Fig. 4

Andy’s own bobblehead, a treasured item in the collection.

The Roper Center would like to thank Diane Colasanto for donating these important items, as well as the Pew Charitable Trusts and Diane for generously funding the archiving of the Andrew Kohut collection.

Joe Schill is a Collections Specialist at the Roper Center, focusing on items donated to the Center by Andrew Kohut. He grew up in Syracuse and lived in Washington, DC before returning to Ithaca and working in archiving at the Rakow Library at the Corning Museum of Glass. Joe holds an MAT from Binghamton University in social sciences education, an MA in history from George Mason University, and a bachelor’s degree from Oswego State.