Archibald M. Crossley Papers
Scope and Content
The collection contains the personal and professional papers of survey research pioneer, Archibald M. Crossley. Reports, studies, questionnaires, correspondence and publications document the interactions, interests and activities of Crossley and his peers, as well as the polling organizations and companies with which he was associated including Crossley SD Surveys, Inc., ArchCross Associates, Inc. and Political Surveys and Analyses, Inc. The collection is a rich resource of data regarding American opinions on a variety of products, services and politicians throughout the middle years of the twentieth century.
- Creation: undated, 1926-2002
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.
Archibald Maddock Crossley was born 7 December 1896 in Fieldsboro, New Jersey. An early pioneer of public polling and one of the first to use representative sampling techniques, Crossley was a 1917 graduate of Princeton University. Employed by J. H.Cross Company (1918-1922), a small advertising firm in Philadelphia, he later joined the Literary Digest (1922-1926) as an assistant research director. In 1926, he established his own marketing research company, Crossley, Inc..
His first significant contribution to commercial market research was the creation of a radio audience measurement system, "Crossley Ratings," in 1929. The ratings determined the audience size of radio broadcasts by calling homes and asking people what they listened to the previous night or day segment. The first to methodically measure local and national audiences by telephone on a systematic basis, Crossley is credited with originationg the term "rating." Crossley ratings were followed with the simpler "Hooper Ratings" in 1946. Even now, ratings are the basis for advertising costs and program renewals. Crossley also played a major role in research on printed media through the "Continuing Study of Magazine Audiences" (CSMA) and studies for Life, Look and other publications. The Crossley agency became an almost indispensible business aid for newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies and broadcasting firms, becoming one of the first to sample public reaction to brand names of breakfast foods, toothpaste, soap, silver and other household items.
In 1936 Crossley competed with two other survey research pioneers, George Gallup and Elmo Roper, to successfully predict the results of the United States Presidential election. The 1936 election was a pivotal point in polling after the Literary Digest incorrectly predicted the defeat of Franklin D. Roosevelt, demonstrating the fallibility of polls based on sheer numbers and the merit of polls based on scientifically selected samples of the U.S. population. Crossley, Inc. merged with the market research firm of Stewart, Dougall & Associates to form Crossley SD Surveys in 1954, later a subsidiary of Westat, Inc. Crossley himself continued doing political research as a consultant through ArchCross Associates, including several studies for Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York.
Concerned with ethics in polling, Crossley was a founder of the Market Research Council, and active in the National Council on Public Polls and the American Association for Public Opinion Research of which he was president in 1969. He was awarded the Bok Prize for the first radio ratings by Harvard University (1931), the silver medal for service to radio Advertising Award (1943) and the AAPOR Award for exceptional achievement.
Throughout his career, Crossley "concentrated on the psychology of questionnaires, focusing on how question wording could affect how the intensity of a given response is measured. This led him to crusade for ethics and professional polling standards". [Encyclopedia of Survey research methods, v. 2, 2008, p. 170.]
Crossley was 88 when he died at his home in Princeton, NJ on 1 May 1985.
50.55 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The Archibald M. Crossley Papers contains the personal and professional papers of survey research pioneer, Archibald M. Crossley. Reports, studies, questionnaires, correspondence and publications document the interactions, interests and activities of Crossley and his peers, as well as the polling organizations and companies with which he was associated.
Series I: Consumer Studies (undated, 1927-1969)
Series II: Political Surveys (undated, 1936-1969)
Series III: Socio-Economic Surveys (undated, 1937-1964)
Series IV: International Tensions [Princeton 1917 Project] (undated, 1976-1982)
Series V: Speeches (undated, 1939-1975)
Series VI: Correspondence (undated, 1943-1980)
Series VII: Business Organizations (undated, 1926-2002)
Series VIII: Personal Papers (undated, 1930-2002)
The collection was donated in several installments by Helen Crossley beginning in 1999.
The following materials have been separated from the collection and cataloged:
Teleskon Dodd Periodicals
Resolving nationality conflicts Dodd C10170
Watch your selling dollar Dodd
Genre / Form
- Administrative records
- Financial Records
- Maps (documents)
- Press releases
- Speeches (documents)
- Manuscripts (document genre)
- Minutes (administrative records)
- Archibald M. Crossley Papers
- Archives & Special Collections staff
- 2011 January
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- This finding aid was prepared with generous support from the Archibald and Helen Crossley Endowment.