Shulman re-envisions the early history of public opinion research

January 21, 2014


The Twitter account @HistOpinion is utterly simple and endlessly fascinating. The brainchild of Case Western history professor, MIT alumni and MIT Hugh Hampton Young Fellow, Peter Shulman, the account tweets findings from public opinion surveys taken between 1935 and 1946, inserting results from Depression- and WWII-era opinion polls into your feed at the rate of three tweets a day. The volume that supplies source material for the tweets is Public Opinion, 1935-1946, by Princeton psychologist Hadley Cantril. Cantril was a pioneer in the field of public opinion research, which took off in the mid-1930s after pollsters George Gallup, Elmo Roper, and Archibald Crossley successfully predicted FDR’s victory using statistical sampling in 1936. A few months after starting the feed, Shulman hit upon the idea of creating graphics based on the poll results. The charts make the tweets pop on your timeline, and they also give Shulman a way to pack more information on the source of the poll, and its methods, into a tweet. Read the full article about his popular online blog on Slate.

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