Membership Spotlight: Celebrating 64 Years of Membership
By Rich Morin, Associate Communications Chair
In September 1947 Helen M. Crossley, a 25-year-old graduate student
at the University of Denver, boarded a cross-country train to
attend the Second International Conference on Public Opinion Research at
Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.
Crossley immediately knew she had found a professional home.
“There was a spirit in the air,” she said of the meeting that marked the founding of AAPOR. “We were pioneers. It brought together people who realized something new was getting started. We made connections that carried on for more than 60 years.”
Today, Crossley says the opportunities to connect with professional colleagues and learn the latest in survey techniques remain compelling reasons for joining AAPOR.
“If someone is interested in being active in the profession they simply have to be a member of AAPOR,” said Crossley, one of 19 people who have been members of AAPOR for 60 years or longer. “If you are not in AAPOR, you aren’t up on what is happening or all the people you need to know.”
Crossley says the professional connections she made or deepened at AAPOR have taken her around the world. In the early 1950s she worked in Germany for the Armed Forces Information and Education Division (AFIED) and became the chief of its Research Branch. In 1955 she began her long association with the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), establishing coordinated research surveys in Europe, Asia and Latin America. After a stint in the private sector she returned to the USIA in 1979. She retired in 1992 with the Agency’s Career Achievement Award for 32 years of government service. She has served on the AAPOR Council and was the first female president of WAPOR. Crossley's full biography and Heritage Interview Series video are available on the AAPOR website.
Crossley says she finally “started feeling my age” last year when she turned 89. “I’m mostly on the professional sidelines now.” But she did attend last year’s conference in Chicago.
“It was quite impressive, but quite hectic”—and very different from the conventions in the early days of AAPOR. Some of the changes have been for the better. “We used to fight. Oh those arguments between the commercial side and the academics were really quite bitter.”
But Crossley says she misses other things. “They didn’t have a sing-along,” she says. Evening sing-alongs were a feature at those early conventions, “good glee-club types of songs.” That tradition has been replaced by golf tournaments, fun runs and more informal gatherings.
She did say one tradition remains from those first meetings: The late-night poker game, now rechristened the “Applied Probability Seminar.”
“We had the sing-alongs and the poker game,” she laughed. “You went to one or the other. You didn’t do both.”
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