Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Oscar and Rose Kaplan Public Opinion Surveys
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 178
Mandeville Special Collections Library
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
Language of Material:
18.6 Linear feet
(46 archives boxes, 1 half box)
Date (inclusive): 1934 - 1994
Surveys, dating from 1951-1992, conducted by Oscar and Rose Kaplan, public opinion pollsters and analysts for businesses,
politicians, attorneys and newspapers in the San Diego area. A small number of surveys were conducted in the Los Angeles area
and nationwide. The files include questionnaires, reports, development materials, and newspaper clippings. The accession processed
in 2009, dating from 1934-1994, contains public opinion surveys conducted by Oscar and Rose Kaplan. Also included are writings
by Oscar Kaplan, general correspondence, and biographical materials from the Kaplan family.
Kaplan, Oscar J.
Scope and Content of Collection
ACCESSION PROCESSED IN 1995
The Oscar and Rose Kaplan surveys document the Kaplans' career as surveyors and analysts for businesses and politicians in
the Southern California area. The papers are mainly a chronological collection of questionnaires and reports dating from 1951
to 1992. The majority of surveys and reports in the collection pertain to the San Diego area, but work conducted in Los Angeles
and nationwide is also included. The collection is divided into two series: 1) SURVEYS AND REPORTS, and 2) DOCUMENTS.
SERIES 1: SURVEYS AND REPORTS
This first series comprises the bulk of the collection and is divided into two subseries: Dated and Undated.
The Dated subseries is arranged chronologically. Each folder typically contains a sample of the questionnaire and a report
of the survey's results. In some cases, one or the other of these elements is missing. Headings refer to report titles, or
to questionnaire titles where reports are unavailable.
The surveys cover a broad range of topics. Some were conducted for state and local politicians such as Lionel Van Deerlin,
Jim Bates, Ronald Reagan, and Pete Wilson. Businesses such as Jack-in-the-Box and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club commissioned
marketing surveys by the Kaplans. The San Diego Zoological Society commissioned annual reports on recreational habits of tourists
and residents, as did the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Kaplans were also involved in land and community development
surveys which covered such topics as traffic light positioning, extension of shopping centers, and the practicality of new
bank branches throughout the county. Yet other surveys were conducted in connection with legal proceedings such as the Sagon
Penn and Joselito Cinco criminal trials. Finally, the Kaplans conducted a series of public opinion polls in the late 1950s
for the San Diego
Independent which paint a colorful portrait of local tastes and values.
Researchers may note that report or questionnaire titles do not always match folder headings. This is because in the original
arrangement reports were occasionally found in folders whose titles reflected the intent and purpose of the survey, e.g.,
a poll titled "Civic Affairs Survey" may have been intended to find the extent of damage to a politician's public image in
the wake of a scandal. In cases where this information was available, it was transcribed onto the new folder heading. Some
questionnaires used to poll a single group of people were used to compile reports for a number of different politicians. In
these cases separate folders were created for each politician, although reports often differ only in their "verbatim comments"
The Undated subseries is arranged alphabetically. It includes surveys and reports whose dates are unclear, as well as fragments
of unidentified reports.
SERIES 2: DOCUMENTS
The second series consists of materials which appear to have assisted the Kaplans in development of their own surveys and
reports. These materials include applications to bank boards, academic papers discussing local and national politics, instructions
for interviewers, and ideas for future polls.
ACCESSION PROCESSED IN 2009
The accession processed in 2009 contains public assessment material, including surveys, questionnaires, reports, and research
material. The collection also includes general correspondence from Oscar Kaplan's other professional ventures, including committees,
publications and coursework. The material in the 2009 accession dates from 1934 through 1994, with the majority of the collection
spanning from 1957 through 1982.
The accession processed in 2009 is arranged in five series: 1) SURVEYS AND REPORTS, 2) BUSINESS DOCUMENTS AND RESEARCH, 3)
WRITINGS BY OSCAR KAPLAN, 4) GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, and 5) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS.
SERIES 1: SURVEYS AND REPORTS
The first series, SURVEYS AND REPORTS, makes up the bulk of the collection and is arranged in chronological order. This series
contains numerous public opinion surveys conducted by the Kaplans from 1941 through 1994. The materials include surveys from
numerous businesses and organizations throughout San Diego, including the San Diego Zoological Society, the San Diego Chamber
of Commerce, the San Diego Convention and Tourist Bureau, Sea World, and the American Cancer Society. This series also contains
correspondence regarding the implementation and findings of many of these surveys. These surveys also contain additional research
materials, including surveys and polls from other survey companies, that the Kaplans used for their research and survey models.
SERIES 2: BUSINESS DOCUMENTS AND RESEARCH
Series 2, BUSINESS DOCUMENTS AND RESEARCH, includes material which the Kaplans used to create their own public surveys and
reports, and contain survey studies and ideas for future research studies and public polls.
SERIES 3: WRITINGS BY OSCAR KAPLAN
The third series, WRITINGS BY OSCAR KAPLAN, contains reprints and typescript drafts of articles written by Oscar Kaplan. These
articles include Oscar Kaplan's research on gerontology, mental health, and public surveys and opinions. These materials are
arranged in chronological order.
SERIES 4: GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE
Series 4, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, contains letters regarding Oscar Kaplan's professional career, including his research with
gerontology and his work on numerous national committees and organizations.
SERIES 5: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL series contains biographical material about the Kaplan family, including resume and curriculum vitae
for Oscar and Rose Kaplan, and biographical summaries for Oscar Kaplan. This series also contains photographic portraits of
Oscar Kaplan, as well as photographs from various events in which Oscar Kaplan attended.
Oscar Kaplan (1915-1994) was a pioneering pollster, best known locally for surveys he and his wife, Rose, conducted about
all aspects of San Diego life. He is also an internationally recognized authority on aging, educated at UCLA (B.S.) and UC
Berkeley (Ph.D), and was often referred to as the "father of geriatic psychology."
As a gerontologist, Oscar Kaplan authored
Mental Disorders in Late Life(1945), the first book on geriatric psychology; was appointed as a special consultant in gerontology to the U.S. Public Heath
Service in 1946; helped to initiate the White House Conference on Aging in 1950; founded the American Society of Aging in
1955, and was founding editor of
As a pollster, Kaplan founded the Center for Survey Research at San Diego State University in 1948, which he continued to
serve until his death, and developed in the same year the first university course in the nation devoted to methods of measuring
Rose Kaplan died on November 22, 2000.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Oscar and Rose Kaplan Public Opinion Surveys, MSS 0178. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
Medical records from the accession processed in 2009, located in Series 1 and Series 5, are restricted in accordance with
state and federal law until 2095.
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: ALLOW ONE WEEK FOR RETRIEVAL OF MATERIALS
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Cinco, Joselito -- Public opinion
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
General Dynamics Corporation
Kaplan, Oscar J. -- Archives
Kaplan, Rose -- Archives
Lucas, David -- Public opinion
Penn, Sagon -- Public opinion
Peyer, Craig -- Public opinion
San Diego (Calif.). City Council.
San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau
San Diego Independent (Firm).
Union-Tribune Publishing Company
Zoological Society of San Diego
Banks and banking--California--San Diego
City planning--California--San Diego--Public opinion
Civic leaders--California--San Diego--Attitudes
Crime and criminals--California--San Diego--Public opinion
Criminals--California--San Diego--Public opinion
Local elections--California--San Diego
Public opinion polls--California, Southern
Public opinion polls--California--San Diego
Public opinion--California, Southern
Public opinion--California--San Diego
Recreational surveys--California--San Diego
San Diego (Calif.)--History
Tourism--California--San Diego--Public opinion
Transportation--California--San Diego--Public opinion