About the project

From the Whitlam Dismissal to warships; the environment to the economy; moon colonies to motherhood - the subjects of Irving Saulwick's polls were as diverse as the population they surveyed.

This website is a research resource to support the use of Irving Saulwick's data and archives. The value of Saulwick's legacy is cross-disciplinary: offering rich source material for scholars of political and social sciences; creative practicitioners seeking to recreate the mood or language of a particular period; historians; and anyone with an interest in late-20th century Australian society. The collection is particularly rich for the period 1971-1995, a time of great social change in Australia and globally.

The most enduring of Saulwick's survey projects was Age Poll, conducted regularly for The Age newspaper between 1971-1994 and on an ad hoc basis after that date. Age Poll was conceived as an ongoing survey of Australian social and political trends, designed "to get beneath the surface of community attitudes and trace the underlying pattern of Australia's social values." In addition to newspaper polls, Saulwick also undertook many important social research studies for clients in the public and private sectors.

From the front page of The Age newspaper, 24 March 1971.

Irving Saulwick's investigations into how Australians have perceived and interpreted their local societies and place in the global community are part of an ongoing narrative in which much remains to be said. This website represents one component of an ARC-funded project to preserve and catalogue his archives, to contextualise and link together this material alongside other related collections, and to support research and enquiry into all aspects of Australian society.

I have always said that good survey work is a combination of science, management and art. One has to be scientific in one's design. One must manage one's resources well. One must also train, brief and supervise one's interviewers well. But finally one has to have imagination - to produce unbiased, value free and simple questions which do capture real information from people to whom they are put and which allow them not to answer, if they wish, without feeling stupid. -IRVING SAULWICK