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COLLECTION Identifier: HUM 291

American Soldier in WWII subject index and codebooks

Overview

The collection contains the questions used to survey American soldiers during World War II by the Research Branch of the War Department’s Information and Education Division. Under the direction of Samuel A. Stouffer, later director of the Laboratory of Social Relations and professor of sociology (1946-1960) at Harvard University, the survey results provided the United States Army with information to formulate policies and procedures. The survey results were published in four volumes as The American Soldier: Studies in Social Psychology in World War II (1949).

Dates

  • circa 1950s

Creator

Researcher Access

Open for research.

Extent

1.9 cubic feet (4 document boxes, 1 half-record carton)
The collection contains the questions used to survey American soldiers during World War II between December 1943 and July 1945. The questions, in the form of computer printouts, are arranged alphabetically by topic. Many of the questions elicit the feelings of soldiers towards the army, their living conditions and entertainment, their attitudes towards the enemy and the war, their mental health, and actual combat experiences. Each question includes the question date, survey number, group sample size, and the group to which the question was asked such as white, enlisted men and white and black officers. There is no personally identifiable information. Also included are incomplete codebooks which were used to collate the answers given to each question. The bulk of the codebook data consists of the number of responses given to each question. The computer printouts appear to have been created after the publication of The American Soldier: Studies in Social Psychology in World War II (1949).

Historical note on the Research Branch of the War Department’s Information and Education Division

In October 1941, the United States Army established a Research Branch of the War Department’s Information and Education Division. During World War II the Research Branch was staffed by social scientists and was given the task of providing the Army with information which might be helpful to the military in the formulation of policies and procedures. One of those social scientists was Samuel A. Stouffer, director of the Laboratory of Social Relations and professor of sociology (1946-1960) at Harvard University. Stouffer directed a series of studies beginning in 1943 on the attitudes of the serviceman, the results of which appear in four volumes as The American Soldier: Studies in Social Psychology in World War II (1949). As director of the professional staff, Stouffer had general responsibility for research and selection of personnel.

Stouffer and his research team conducted over 600,000 interviews with soldiers gathering data on the attitudes, emotions, and conduct of military men who were involved in the war and afterward returning to civilian life. Examined was the importance of morale, group cohesion, and military performance. Also surveyed was the relationship between attitudes and sociocultural settings, including ideologies, the status characteristics of individuals, military status, and military experience. Two prominent examples of the use of the data to influence public policies were the development of the Army’s point system for demobilization and the desegregation of the armed services in the 1950s. Moreover, the survey responses led the military to establish the Expert and Combat Infantrymen’s Badge, revise pay scales, influence what appeared in various publications including Yank, the Army Weekly, Stars & Stripes, and Frank Capra’s Why We Fight propaganda films.

The work of the Research Branch during World War II raised the prestige of social science research after the end of the war and helped establish public opinion as an important area of scientific work. The resulting volumes were widely reviewed, used in military academies and schools, and discussed in meetings of sociological and psychological organizations. Although based on military needs, the findings of the Research Branch contained information and insights on human behavior which had a direct relevance to psychologists, educators, public relations specialists, social theoreticians, and the military policymaker during the post-war period.
Biographical note on Samuel A. Stouffer Samuel Andrew Stouffer (1900-1960), sociologist and developer of survey techniques, was director of the Laboratory of Social Relations and professor of sociology at Harvard University (1946-1960). After earning his PhD in sociology at the University of Chicago (1930), Stouffer served as professor of social statistics at the University of Wisconsin (1932-1935) and professor of sociology at the University of Chicago (1935-1946). In the 1930s, Stouffer began to investigate the area of opinion research and mass communications. Recognized for his sophisticated statistical methods, Stouffer became director of the Research Branch of the War Department’s Information and Education Division in 1941. The Research Branch conducted hundreds of surveys and social psychological studies of American soldiers during World War II. Later in his career, Stouffer turned his attention to the study of attitudes in situations of conflicting values and roles.

Arrangement

Records are organized as follows: Questionnaires, Boxes 1-4; Codebooks, Box 4; three binders and original labels, Box 5.

Acquisition information

The American Soldier in WWII subject index and codebooks were donated to the Harvard University Archives.
Accession number: 2018.145; 2017 August 31.

Related Material

In the Harvard University Archives
The Papers of Samuel Andrew Stouffer, 1930-1960 (HUGFP 31.xx) contain correspondence on “The American Soldier.”
Related Material In the National Archives
Related Material A Finding Aid to Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II (The American Soldier Surveys). The main body of records related to “The American Soldier in World War II” have been assigned to Record Group 330 (Records of the Secretary of Defense).

References

  • Lazarsfeld, Paul F. “The American Soldier-An Expository Review.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 13, no. 3 (Autumn, 1949) : 377-404.
  • Shanas, Ethel. Review of The American Soldier: Vol. 1: Adjustment during Army Life and The American Soldier: Vol. II: Combat and Its Aftermath, by Samuel A. Stouffer. American Journal of Sociology 55, no. 6 (May, 1950) : 590-594.
  • "Samuel A(ndrew) Stouffer." In Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Biography in Context (accessed September 11, 2017). http://link.galegroup.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/apps/doc/H1000157077/BIC1?u=camb55135
  • Wikipedia contributors, "Samuel A. Stouffer," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Samuel_A._Stouffer
  • Williams, Jr., Robin M. “The American Soldier: An Assessment, Several Wars Later.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 53, no. 2 (Summer, 1989) : 155-174.

Processing Information

The American Soldier in WWII subject index and codebooks were processed in August 2017 by Dominic P. Grandinetti. Processing included rehousing materials in the appropriate containers, establishment of series hierarchy, and the creation of this finding aid.
Link to catalog
Title
American Soldier in WWII subject index and codebooks, circa 1950s: an inventory
Description rules
dacs
EAD ID
hua18017

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Contact:
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