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Office of Public Opinion Research Collection

The Office of Public Opinion Research Collection, established by Hadley Cantril, spans the turbulent years of World War II.  The first survey took place less than a year after Germany invaded Poland, the United States having yet to enter the fray.  The final survey was completed after German  surrender, but before Japanese surrender.

There are a multitude of questions about America’s opinions on the war as it unfolded, offering insight into a population who only twenty years prior endured “the Great War.”  Who did they think would win the war, and how did their opinions change over time?  Did they support lending supplies to the British?  Should the U.S. involve themselves in the war?  Which country is the biggest threat to the United States?  Can Russia be trusted?  What is exactly is the war all about?  The formation of an international police force or organization is also considered.

Questions about Germany ask about Adolf Hitler, opinions of the German people, what to do with the Nazis after the war, and who was ultimately responsible for the atrocities discovered in concentration camps.  How severe should the peace treaties be made?  There are also several questions about the Jewish people, including their influence in the United States. The interview dates, show how answers changed before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and German surrender.

The polls also follow the last five years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, and continue after his death. There are many questions evaluating his actions and policies, including voter intention and opinion of wartime actions.  Did he take advantage of the war situation to pass through unrelated policies?  Is there anything more he could have effectively done as president?  Did the American people have confidence in him?

Additionally, many of the individual surveys ask questions about social and civilian issues.  Read about education policies and spending, trust in news reports, civilian morale, wage and price limits, food rations, and the extent of free speech. Some surveys feature unique sample types. A youth survey asks Americans aged 16 – 24 questions about aging, politics, and atomic world war.  A special sample of respondents in Pittsburgh, PA deals with labor questions about strikes, workers, and government ownership of companies.

Explore the historical OPOR collection.

 For further information on this study please contact Data Services.