Rogers C. Dunn Papers, 1902-1990
Rogers Cleveland Dunn was born September 14, 1902, in Scarsdale, New York, and died April 22, 1985. He married (and later divorced) Elizabeth Holton in 1931 with whom he had three children: Peter, Diana, and Linda. Dunn spent the bulk of his career as a political analyst and writer, although he also worked for the Department of Commerce during the tenure of Secretary Herbert Hoover. Dunn left government service to work on Wall Street, a career that ended with the onset of the Great Depression.
In the early 1930’s he initiated the Dunn Survey, a publication that researched the relationship between government and public opinion by tracking editorials from thousands of newspapers across the nation. Dunn also incorporated the influence of the “relief vote” into the survey. He argued that if one person was employed by the Federal government he would vote Democrat at the polls and bring three other voters to the polls with him.
Dunn used this statistical data to predict the outcome of elections. He intended the Survey to be an illustration of the mechanics of the political scene for businessmen and politicians, and a way for Republicans to address the reasons for Democratic political successes. In 1936 Dunn was hired by the RNC to head an effort of studying editorials from newspapers across the nation, but he held this position only for two months, after which the RNC terminated the contract due to budget concerns.
Dunn seems to have been a significant political analyst from the late thirties through the sixties. Over his lifetime, Dunn corresponded regularly with chairmen of national companies about the political scene and with members of Congress. He gained the respect for his political analyses and was duly acknowledged for his successes in national newspapers. In particular, Dunn received acclamation for his early prediction that Truman would beat Dewey in 1948. At the height of his career, his political opinions were published in 120 newspapers nationwide.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The Rogers C. Dunn collection spans nearly two linear feet and contains two series: Professional and Personal. The documents range in date from 1902 to 1990, but the bulk dates of this collection date from 1935 to 1945. The papers of Rogers C. Dunn were given to the Hoover Library in early 1990 by his son, Peter. Moreover, Peter gave Liberty University a collection of his father’s political publications.
The Professional series comprises 1.5 linear feet of material on Dunn’s work in polling and as a political analyst.. It contains correspondence from 1935 to 1981 and is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, and chronologically within each correspondent. These documents primarily concern the political scene during the Roosevelt years, Dunn’s unsuccessful efforts to secure funding for a proposed national radio program, “What’s on America’s Mind?”, the problems and ideological failures of the Republican Party from the 1930’s through the 1970’s, election forecasting, and the Dunn Survey.
Dunn’s correspondence with Herbert Hoover is included in the Professional series. There are 17 letters from Hoover in the Dunn collection that are essentially notes in praise of the Dunn Survey and Dunn’s advice to the Republican Party.
At the end of the Professional series is a subseries entitled “Printed Matter.” These folders contain newspaper and periodical clippings related to the Dunn Survey, as well as actual copies of a number of Dunn’s publications. Importantly, the Dunn collection does not include any of the statistical data used by Dunn to compile the Survey and his election forecasts. The documents describe the way in which the Dunn Survey was received by the political and business community, but Dunn was extremely private about the actual compilation of his figures
The Personal series spans from 1902 to 1990 and fills 1 box. It includes personal correspondence with his son Peter mostly concerning Dunn’s religious faith, Dunn’s birth certificate and will, a scrapbook of newspapers clippings and photos from World War I, and obituaries and death notices.
A – C, 1935-1969
Sa – So, 1935-1964
Printed Matter, 1936-1949
Printed Matter, 1950-1989 and undated (6 folders)
Birth Certificate and Will, 1902-1967