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Josef Korbel School of International StudiesCrossley Center for Public Opinion Research

Crossley Center

About our Center

Helen M. Crossley

"Helen has always retained a fascination with research methodology, and also with the potential of survey research to make new discoveries about humankind, and to bring about positive change in societies around the world." — George Gallup Jr.

Helen Crossley


Helen Crossley received her master's degree in the social sciences from the University of Denver in 1948. She focused her studies and wrote her thesis on public opinion research, a field in which she has made a significant impact throughout her years of public service and dedication.

Helen Crossley was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1922 to parents Dorothy and Archibald Crossley, himself a pioneer in the field of public opinion and survey research. At age 9, Helen embarked on her first survey project of counting radio listeners for her father's firm, Crossley Inc.

Helen's devotion to public opinion research remained prominent throughout her life. In 1947, she attended a conference in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she became a founding member of two of the most prestigious professional associations for public opinion research: the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR). She remained an active member of both organizations throughout her life, serving as the first female president of WAPOR in 1961 and as Secretary-Treasurer of AAPOR in 1973 and 1975. After retirement, Helen continued her involvement by serving as WAPOR's official historian.

Much of Helen's career was spent as a dedicated public servant. After graduating from Radcliffe College in 1942, she aided in the war effort by moving to Washington D.C. to work for the Office of War Information and War Food Administration. In 1950, Helen continued her career in public service through the Armed Forces Information and Education Division in the Department of Defense in Germany, where she eventually was promoted to chief of research. In 1955, Helen transferred to the United States Information Agency (USIA), where she received an official citation from the Korean Ministry of Information for helping establish survey research in Korea. After a stint in the private sector beginning in 1963, which included co-authoring the book, "American Drinking Standards and Practices," based on survey research that she and colleagues conducted, Helen returned to USIA in 1979.

After Helen retired from USIA in 1992, she assisted in expanding public knowledge of survey research by providing USIA data to the University of Connecticut's Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.  In 2008, Helen received the Roper Center's Distinguished Service Award for "dedicated service to conducting and archiving international survey research."

In keeping with her legacy of expanding public knowledge of survey research, Helen founded the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver in 2012. Through this center, Helen and Archibald Crossley's lifelong commitments to the field of public opinion research continue.

Helen Crossley's Career Timeline

Career in survey research, internationally and nationally. Assisted in father's survey research firm, Crossley, Inc., and was founding member of professional public opinion associations that set industry standards.

  • 1922: Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania
    Parents Archibald Maddock Crossley and Dorothy Fox Crossley
  • 1923: Parents built house in Princeton, New Jersey
  • 1931: Counted radio listeners for father's firm Crossley Ratings (9 years old)
  • 1936: Father conducts survey for Hearst Newspapers. Predicts Roosevelt will win presidential election, which launches national reputation of survey research
  • 1937: Travels to England with high school during junior year, marking first trip abroad
  • 1942: Graduation from Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA
    Moves to Washington, D.C. to work in Office of War Information and War Food Administration
  • 1945: Works in public opinion research for Crossley, Inc., in New York. Lives in Greenwich Village
  • 1947– '48: Earns master's degree in social science from University of Denver.  Writes thesis on public opinion research. Her father is an advocate for new professional associations.  Both involved in founding American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) at conference in Williamston, MA
  • 1950: Begins work for Armed Forces Information and Education Division in Department of Defense in Germany, becoming chief of research branch.
  • 1955: Transfers to United States Information Agency (USIA), Washington, D.C. Established international surveys in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
  • 1961–'62: Serves as first female president of WAPOR
  • 1963: Returns to Princeton, NJ, and works in private sector including international work in Korea
  • 1969: Co-authors (with father) analysis of 1968 election in Public Opinion Quarterly
  • 1970: Conducts American Drinking Practices studies
  • 1979: Returns to USIA
  • 1992: Retires from USIA after 32 years of government service
    Continues to participate in WAPOR and AAPOR. Sends USIA surveys to Roper Center
  • 2008: Receives the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research Distinguished Service Award
  • 2012: Establishes the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver