The 50th Anniversary of the Survey Research Center

In 2008, the Survey Research Center (SRC) at the University of California, Berkeley, founded in 1958, turned 50 years old. SRC hosted two principal events to celebrate this milestone:

On March 6th and 7th, 2008, SRC hosted the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations (ASRO). The keynote presentation describes challenges facing the evolution of survey research:

  • Heterogeneity or diversity of populations require changes in sampling, recruitment, instrument design, and data collection;
  • Information technology both demands and provides efficiency of processing;
  • These changes both demand and provide for adaptive or responsive use of information that comes forward during data collection;
  • And, they require researchers to maximize the benefits of both centralized and decentralized decision making.

On February 12, 2009, SRC hosted a Fiftieth Anniversary celebration. Mervin Field joined five decades of SRC Directors, as they reminisced on their dreams of and aspirations for the center. Over 100 people laughed ... and cried ... over the challenges the center faced and overcame to achieve its current staus as a major survey research organization.

    Recollections of SRC Directors

  • Charles Y. Glock, the founder and director from 1958 to 1967, talked of his vision of the center as a hub for methodology of social research. Many laughed when Dr. Glock described the "broom closet" that housed the first incarnation of the SRC. A more extended recollection of the early years of SRC, which Charlie has graciously made available here, is one of the chapters of Charlie's autobiography.
  • The recollections of William L. Nicholls II, Acting Director from 1967-1970, were presented, warmly recalling the the intellectual leadership, humane policies, and warm personalities that made SRC a unique place. A written version, including Bill's list of people he especially remembers, can be accessed here.
  • J. Merrill Shanks, Director from 1970-1979, is still a familiar face at SRC. He talked about the most innovative studies at the center, ones which made SRC a name as leader in the field. Hw also spoke of the challenges that face the future of survey research.
  • Percy Tannebaum, Director from 1979-1992, spoke movingly of the blessing of learning from his students. He recalled fondly his years as Director.
  • Michael Hout, Director from 1992-1998, compassionately acknowledged the current diffcult economic times we are facing for the foreseeable future. Even in this moment of celebration, we are confronted with a sobering reality.
  • Henry Brady, Director from 1999-2009, "on the shoulders of giants" acknowledged the wisdom and talent of the directors who built a solid foundation from which we now benefit in heartening camaradie and the courage to seek new horizons.    

    Fifty Years of The California Field Poll

  • Henry Brady and Iris Hui wowed the audience with thought provoking longitudinal analysis of 50 years of Field Polls. Brady and Hui have constructed an analysis file accumulating the questions that have been repeated over the years.
  • Mervin Field thanked the Center for its 50 years of archiving. He then held the audience rapt as he recounted the early years when inexperienced Field Poll researchers second-guessed their poll data that predicted Truman's legendary victory over Dewey!



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Last modified: March 5, 2009