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Roper Center illuminates World War II issues

Editor Roy Takeno reads a copy of the Manzanar Free Press at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, near Independence, California.

The world’s largest archive of public opinion data, housed at Cornell, is embarking on a new project to publicize what Americans believed and how they felt about events and people during World War II.

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research is working with the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, which will use the Roper Center's war-era polling results from its archive to explain various issues at play during the war years.

For example, a recent museum piece used a Roper survey showing 48 percent of people polled in 1942 said Japanese-Americans who had been forced into internment camps should not be allowed to move back to the Pacific Coast.

Historians from the museum’s Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, which is led by Martin Loicano, MA ’06, Ph.D. ’08, will decide what topics they highlight. They will have a broad field to choose from. Roper has polls from the era that covered everything from victory gardens to the role of women in the war effort, labor issues and perceptions of military strategy. The Roper collection also includes surveys of British and U.S. service members.

The project will help expand awareness of the Roper Center’s rich historical material among historians and the general public, said Kathleen Weldon, the Roper's director of operations and communications.

“Few people are aware of the enormous amount of public opinion data collected during the early years of polling,” she said, “or that this important collection has been preserved at the center and is still providing insights into American history today.”

- Susan Kelley

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson