His papers show Gallup faced similar criticism early and often. They include scrapbooks of what Gallup’s family called ‘‘crank mail,’’ people who complained bitterly about polling results and accused him of trying to shape public opinion, not measure it. Campaign-style posters and buttons declared, ‘‘Gallup didn’t ask me, either.’’
A dark hour for Gallup came in the 1948 election, when he incorrectly predicted that challenger Thomas Dewey would defeat President Harry Truman. Alison Gallup said that her grandfather stopped polling too early to detect a late shift toward Truman. He learned from the mistake and afterward always polled until the day before the election.
She said Gallup’s incorrect prediction led to a ‘‘Dewey Defeats Truman’’ headline made famous in a photograph of the victorious Truman holding up the newspaper.
Gallup claimed that a policeman who pulled him over for driving the wrong way soon after the election saw his license and quipped, ‘‘Wrong again, Dr. Gallup,’’ his granddaughter recalled. But Gallup survived the humiliation and a congressional investigation and continued his work.
Greg Prickman, who oversees the university’s special collections, said this one documents an important field in American history.
‘‘Polling is a part of our lives and has been for many years now. I think it will always be a source of interest and fascination for people,’’ he said. ‘‘I think we will get interest in the collection for that reason. People will be curious about, how did we get to this place? What was it like before the Internet and how did this develop?’’