AAPOR’s History at a Glance

AAPOR was founded in 1947 by a group of dedicated public opinion research pioneers. They and about 70 of their colleagues responded to a call from Harry H. Field, director of the National Opinion Research Center, at the University of Denver, to attend a meeting in Central City, Colorado, July 29 – 31, 1946. The meeting was held in the historic Opera House.

The program of that first conference reflected the optimism of a new methodology. Reflections on a better world through public opinion research and its contributions to world peace headed a program that also addressed the practical concerns of professionals in a budding field.

When formalization came on September 4, 1947, two organizations resulted: AAPOR and the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR). The organizations continue their close association and meet jointly in even-numbered years.

In the main, AAPOR has occupied itself with professional matters: Public Opinion Quarterly, which became the official journal in 1948; professional standards; and above all, advancing research theory and methodology.

Many of those at the center of the activity were later recipients of AAPOR’s highest award, including Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Herbert H. Hyman, Samuel A. Stouffer, Elmo Roper, Clyde W. Hart, Angus Campbell, George H. Gallup, and Harold D. Lasswell. All played major formative roles in the history of public opinion research.

In addition to the A Meeting Place and More book above on AAPOR’s history, another great resource for learning about the survey research and opinion is:

  • Survey Research in the United States:  Roots and Emrgence, 1890-1960. Jean M. Converse. University of California Press, 1987.
View Interactive Timeline

AAPOR Interactive Timeline sponsored by NORC

A Meeting Place and More

In 1992, AAPOR published A Meeting Place: A History of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. It was edited by Paul B. Sheatsley and Warren J. Mitofsky.

28 years later, AAPOR is updating that history with A Meeting Place and More…, edited by Tom W. Smith.


Reg Baker, Consultant
Janice M. Ballou, Rutgers University, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (Retired); Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (Retired)
Cynthia R. Bland, RTI International
Jennifer Hunter Childs, U.S. Census Bureau
Rob Daves, Daves & Associates Research
Don A. Dillman, Department of Sociology and the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center, Washington State University
Morgan Earp, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Kathleen A. Frankovic, Election and Polling Consultant
Jeff Hackett, NORC at the University of Chicago

Melissa J. Herrmann, SSRS
Craig A. Hill, RTI International
Timothy P. Johnson, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago; Senior Fellow, NORC at the University of Chicago
Scott Keeter, Pew Research Center
Marc Maynard, Data Independence LLC
Peter V. Miller, Northwestern University and U.S. Census Bureau (Retired)
Adam Safir, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Tom W. Smith, NORC at the University of Chicago
Lois Timms-Ferrara, Data Independence LLC

Heritage Interviews

The AAPOR Heritage Interview Series was initiated as a way to preserve knowledge about the founding of the public opinion research profession, the development of new ideas that have had a lasting effect on the work we do, and the growth of AAPOR itself. Since 2002, the Heritage Interview Committee has interviewed individuals who have made significant contributions to our field.

Back in the Olden Days

“Back in the Olden Days” is an audio recording of the highly entertaining and enlightening history roundtable at 1985 AAPOR conference with survey research luminaries Bud Roper (who played excerpts of interviews taped in the 1970s with George Gallup Sr. and Archibald Crossley), Herb Hyman, Hal Mendelsohn, Don Cahalan, Dick Baxter and Paul Sheatsley.

Also included are questions posed by “the kids” on the panel, played by Evans Witt, Sheldon Gawiser, Nancy Belden and Luane Kohnke-Aguirre; with comments from audience members Jack Elinson, Joe Belden, Helen Crossley and others. Hear wonderfully told stories about Paul Lazarsfeld, Elmo Roper and other public opinion research pioneers. Stories include exploits at early AAPOR conferences (including one that shared a hotel with a meeting of chimpanzee owners – and their chimps).

T-Shirt Contest Winners

The 44th Annual AAPOR Conference at the Don CeSar Beach Resort, St. Petersburg, Florida (May 18-21, 1989) launched the “AAPOR T-Shirt.” As an incentive for those who signed up for the Saturday morning 7:30 AM Walk/Run event, participants received the AAPOR T-Shirt with the iconic slogan “If we want your opinion, we’ll ask for it.” Elizabeth Martin (2004 AAPOR President) is credited with this original slogan that continued in 1990 and 1991.

An annual pre-conference contest has generated new slogans since then (see list of slogans and slogan winners below) and since 1990, the conference registration includes the option to purchase the annual T-shirt.

AAPOR is fortunate that since 1994 (T-Shirt, but no slogan), Tom Guterbock has saved his T-Shirts. Thanks to Mike Lawrence, who photographed and captioned the Guterbock collection, we have this historic collection.

If we want your opinion, we’ll ask for it.    
Elizabeth Martin

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, +/- 4% 
Tom W. Smith

Pollsters do it for the asking.     
Nikolai Popov

Sample the Universe. Be a pollster.      
Fred Solop

AAPOR: 50 years and still counting.     
Frank Rusciano

To err is human, but if it’s less than 4% it’s just sampling. 
Tom W. Smith

Without us, it’s just your opinion.
John Marcum

AAPOR – Telling Americans what they think since 1947.    
Jim Wolf

Your opinion counts if we count your opinion.     
Tom W. Smith

Polling: Now more accurate than the election itself!       
Allan Barton

We may not have all the answers, but we have all the questions.
Tom W. Smith

The Ns justify the x̄s.   
Joel D. Bloom

Public Opinion Research: Fighting the War Against Error.
Kristen Olson

If you don’t like the estimate, just weight.   
Doug Lonnstrom

Trust Us – We’re 95% confident. 
Benjamin Healey

I lost my validity at AAPOR.   
Brooke Hoover

Will weight tables for food.    
Fred Solop

Joe the Pollster 
Timothy MacKinnon

AAPOR: Freqs and Geeks        
Angela Knittle

Would you say you like this T-shirt…
1. Very much
2. Somewhat
3. Very little
4. Not at all?    
Rich Clark

AAPOR: We are the 99% (±1).  
Adam Enders

We’ll call you maybe.     
Megan Zander-Cotugno

The weighting in the hardest part.     
A. Rupa Datta

Practice random acts of dialing.
Tancy Vandecar-Burdin

Your opinion is important, even if it’s not significant.   
Tanya Mulvey

I’m just looking for the French quartile.   
Alice Blackwell

We have good surveys. The best surveys. No one is better at surveys than we are.      
Jenny Marlar

Don’t want to answer now? We’ll weight.
Nathan Palmer

75 Years of Caring About What Other People Think.      
Joan M. Hill

6 Feet Is My New Confidence Interval
Megan Lipke

Unmasking Public Opinion Since 1947
Chase Harrison

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