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Oscar J. Kaplan Collection, 1941-1992 | Special Collections & University Archives

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Collection Overview

Title: Oscar J. Kaplan Collection, 1941-1992Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Kaplan, Oscar J.

Extent: 4.67 Linear Feet

Subjects: Aging, Gerontology, Kaplan, Oscar J.--Archives, Older people--Medical care, San Diego State University--Faculty--Biography--Sources, Social surveys--California--San Diego County

Forms of Material: Personal Papers

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Oscar Kaplan Collection documents Kaplan's career as a pollster, psychologist, gerontologist, and member of SDSU's faculty. Also included is Kaplan's work with various organizations including the Gerontological Society, American Society of Aging, the American Psychological Association, and SDSU's Center for Survey Research. Documentation of Kaplan's works as a pollster includes health surveys about tuberculosis and venereal diseases, health education research surveys, student health surveys and prescription drug surveys. Highlights include correspondence for the radio series Your Life After Forty, the White House Conference on Aging, studies and statistics about tuberculosis, evaluations of polling information, and health education research.  The collection dates from 1941-1996, with the majority of the materials dating from the late 1940s to the early 1960's. It consists of articles, correspondence, surveys, survey data, research reports, statistics, newsletters, Psychology Department bulletins, minutes, memos, and syllabi and other course files.

Biographical Note

Born in 1915, Oscar Kaplan was known as "the father of geriatric psychology." Growing up in Los Angeles, he received his bachelor's degree in psychology from UCLA and went on to get his master's degree in the same field, from the same institution. In 1940, he got his PhD in psychology from the University of California Berkeley.

Kaplan started his career as a major figure in the study of public polling. While working for the San Diego Union Tribune, he and his wife, Rose, developed various polls pertaining to life in San Diego. These topics included political, social and economic surveys. His focus, however, was centered on mental and physical health issues.

In 1946, Kaplan became the first professor in San Diego State College's (SDSC) psychology department to have a PhD. His interest in mass psychology lead him to develop courses related to public opinion measurement. In 1948, he founded the SDSC Center for Survey Research, remaining as director until shortly before his death. While at SDSC, he created several public heath surveys, asking students about their knowledge of dietary information, mental and sexual heath, X-rays, pregnancy, and prescription drug usage.

Kaplan authored Mental Disorders in Late Life, the first book about geriatric psychology. In 1946, the Surgeon General appointed him as a special consultant in gerontology to the U.S. Public Health Service. In 1949, Kaplan developed a radio program geared toward elderly listeners. Titled Your Life After Forty, the program gave advice about mental and physical hygiene for senior citizens. This program included polls about X-rays and venereal diseases, new topics unrecognized by the elderly community.

Kaplan's exposure to the public caught the attention of the Truman administration. He urged the President to develop the White House Conference on Aging, finally holding the conference in 1950. That same year, he became an appointed member of the Gerontological Society, an organization devoted to the promotion of scientific study on aging.

In 1955, Kaplan founded what is now known as The American Society of Aging. Five years later, he became the founding editor of The Gerontologist, a professional journal in the field.

The political climate in the 1960's inspired Kaplan to develop polls about the country's opinion on political issues. These included public opinions about Vietnam, civic affairs, public health surveys, and social security. In 1967, Kaplan organized a survey asking his psychology students about the educational system in California. The subjects were questioned about the value they saw in a college education, teacher compensation, and student rights.

In 1969, Kaplan received several grants from the U.S. Public Health Service. With the adequate funding, he was further able to develop public polls about health and social issues. That same year, Kaplan created a student opinions survey, asking SDSC students about American political and economic systems. Some questions inquired about the ethical implications of capitalism, and how students felt about political processes in the United States.

Kaplan continued polling throughout the 1970's, developing several surveys about media issues. In 1974, Kaplan taught an upper division class in public opinion measurement at San Diego State University (Psych-Journalism 122). The class focused on the methods by which polling information is obtained, and how it is presented in the media (especially on television).

In the latter part of his career, Kaplan was recognized for several outstanding achievements. In 1976, Kaplan was given the annual award by the Western Gerontological Society. In 1982, he was nominated for the Alumni faculty award at San Diego State University, receiving a grant for his achievements. The following year, Kaplan was nominated to be an outstanding professor in the Cal State University System.

Though Kaplan retired from SDSU in 1983, he continued polling well into the 1980's. He was the first pollster to inquire about President Reagan's popularity in the decade, and further developed polls about political affairs.

After a struggle with cancer, Oscar Kaplan passed away on December 19th, 1994.

Subject/Index Terms

Kaplan, Oscar J.--Archives
Older people--Medical care
San Diego State University--Faculty--Biography--Sources
Social surveys--California--San Diego County

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & University Archives

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Preferred Citation: Identification of item, folder title, box number, Oscar J. Kaplan Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4 - Ovrsz],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Gerontology Radio Series: "Your Life After Forty", 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 2: 2nd International Gerontological Congress, 1951Add to your cart.
Folder 3: "Mailed Response to an Article on Geriatrics in the Reader's Digest," by Oscar J. Kaplan, ca. 1952Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Reader's Digest-Geriatrics, 1949 - 50Add to your cart.
Folder 5: "Optimal Retirement Plans, Their Implication for the Industrial Physician," by A. G. Kammer, 1951Add to your cart.
Folder 6: "Health Status & Health Needs Among Aged Beneficiaries of Old-Age & Survivors Insurance," by I.S. Falk, 1951Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Medical Care for Aged, ca. 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Age as a Factor in Physical Examination Frequency, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Gerontological Society, 1949 - 52Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Newsletters of the Gerontological Society, June 1954 - December 1956Add to your cart.
Folder 11: The American Geriatrics Society-correspondence, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Research on Aging: Proceedings of a Conference at the University of California, Berkeley, August 7-10, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Health & Psychological Risks of Relocation of Elderly Residents of 4 Mobile Home Parks in the Santee, California area: State Route 52 Project, July 1990Add to your cart.
Folder 14: "America's Centenarians: Reports of Interviews with Social Security Beneficiaries who have lived to 100"-volume III, December 1963Add to your cart.
Folder 15: "Social Indicators & the Aging," by Ontell, R. and Kaplan, O.J., 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 16: White House Conference on Aging-correspondence, 1947-50Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Aging & Cancer, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Senior Citizens Survey, 1964, February 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Planning Committee - Master's in Gerontology, 1979 - 80Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Office of Pacific Coast - Gerontology Research, 1946 - 52Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Mayor's Committee on Aging, 1974 - 77Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Miscellaneous Aging/Gerantology Programs, 1949 - 73Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Health Project correspondence - Gerantology & Tuberculosis, 1950 - 52Add to your cart.
Folder 24: Tuberculosis Information, 1948 - 50Add to your cart.
Folder 25: Tuberculosis Mail Study, 1951Add to your cart.
Folder 26: Tuberculosis Association Evaluation, 1949 - 50Add to your cart.
Folder 27: County Tuberculosis & Health Association Radio Study, 1951Add to your cart.
Folder 28: Resident Civilian Tuberculosis Statistics - S.D. County, 1952Add to your cart.
Folder 29: Diabetes, 1941 - 52Add to your cart.
Folder 30: VD Hooperating, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 31: VD Radio Study, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 32: VD Radio Audience Survey, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 33: VD Cancer, Chest X-Ray Surveys, 1941 - 51Add to your cart.
Folder 34: "An Evaluation of a Public Health Venereal Disease Education Program," by Richard Warfield, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 35: X-Ray Survey, 1948 - 51Add to your cart.
Folder 36: Mass X-Ray, 1948 - 50Add to your cart.
Folder 37: Mass Chest X-Ray Statistics, 1949 - 50Add to your cart.
Folder 38: Chest X-Ray Survey, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 39: "Effectiveness of Mailed Material in Inducing Older Persons to Obtain Chest X-Rays," by Oscar J. Kaplan, ca. 1952Add to your cart.
Folder 40: "Frequency & Effectiveness of Sources of Information used in the 1949 Hamtramck, Michigan Chest X-Ray Survey," by Norbert Reinstein & Ralph Carr Fletcher, May 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 41: "Frequency & Effectiveness of Sources of Information used in the 1949 Highland Park, Michigan Chest X-Ray Survey," by Janeal Benson Griffins, September 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 42: "Reasons for Non-Participation in the HIghland Park, Michigan X-Ray Survey," by Marion Henderson, November 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 43: Current Health Education Reseach, 1949 - 50Add to your cart.
Folder 44: Health Education Studies, 1947 - 49Add to your cart.
Folder 45: Health Education Program Evaluation, 1946 - 52Add to your cart.
Folder 46: Health Education Evaluation, 1948Add to your cart.
Folder 47: Evaluation of Health Education Activities by Opinion Poll Technique, 1950 - 51Add to your cart.
Folder 48: Mass Health Education, 1948 - 49Add to your cart.
Folder 49: Health Education Correspondence, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 50: World/Public Health Education, 1948 - 49Add to your cart.
pamphlets, flyers, articles, correspondence

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[Box 2],
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