British Library - Public History Internship

Posted on 16 September 2014

My IPUP internship took place at the British Library in St Pancras in London, a highly stimulating environment for academic researchers.

My IPUP Internship took place at the British Library in St Pancras in London, a highly stimulating environment for academic researchers. I was working in support of a bid for ESCR funding for a project designed by Dr Mark Roodhouse to study representation of public opinion in newspaper coverage of Gallop polls between 1937 and 1960. This cutting edge project draws upon the raw data collected by Gallup held at the National Data Archive. It analyses the way that this data was analysed and presented in the British print media. It covers two popular mid-century publications – Cavalcade and the News Chronicle – and the more specialised Public Opinion Quarterly. My role was to identify press reporting of the poll results. I focused on the newspaper Cavalcade in interwar period. This now defunct weekly publication was modelled on the American Time magazine. Cavalcade had a contact with Gallup to publish the results of public opinion surveys in Britain in the late 1930s. These were among the first major surveys of public opinion in Britain. They covered a range of social, economic, cultural and political issues. Participants were asked their views on divorce, disarmament, euthanasia, the Spanish civil war and Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement. They were also asked questions about their own lives. Did they exercise? Had they travelled abroad? Did they gamble? Parts of the survey data were published alongside often extensive survey and analysis. It is the latter which is of particular interest to this project. I cross referenced my findings with a volume containing an index of Gallup opinion polls conducted in Britain. I logged the articles that covered public opinion and made copies of the relevant pages of the publication. Capturing the precise reference was particularly important. I enjoyed becoming immersed in rich source material and introduced me to critical issues in my discipline with which I was not previously familiar. The internship allowed me to strengthen my skills of data analysis, time management and working to deadlines. All of this will benefit my future academic career as I apply for junior academic posts and post-doctoral awards.

David Ellis thumbmail

David Ellis

Public History Internship