In order to arrive at a survey with questions that reflect how Americans conceive of and interact with history, the project team enlisted the assistance of a national advisory committee and convened several focus group meetings with regional experts. The first advisory committee meeting was held in August 2019 in Washington, DC, with a collection of esteemed public and academic historians, think tank leaders, and museum directors. The focus group discussions took place in late August 2019 during several sessions at the annual meeting of the American Association of State and Local History in Philadelphia. The full list of participants for the Advisory Committee and focus groups can be found in Appendix C.

Over the course of these meetings, the groups considered questions from Rosenzweig and Thelen’s original study relative to today’s inquiry and what was important for including on a survey of Americans and history in 2020. Advisors suggested that the national survey should repeat enough of the original queries of Presence of the Past to suggest how public perceptions have changed (or not) over a quarter of a century. But the survey should also create new metrics, especially regarding assessing the impact of various cultural changes in American society over the past two decades, such as how the public receives information about the past (e.g., websites, social media, 24-hour news channels) and in how approaches to teaching history have also changed. Upon conclusion of these discussions, the project directors, working in conjunction with then-director of the FDU Poll, Krista Jenkins, arrived at a questionnaire that reflected this balance.

Following the qualitative component to questionnaire construction, the project team engaged Ipsos Public Affairs (Ipsos) to conduct the national survey. The History, Past, and Public Culture Study used Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel®, the largest online panel in the United States that relies on probability-based sampling methods for recruitment to provide a representative sampling frame for adults in the United States. The target population was comprised of noninstitutionalized adults ages 18 and older residing in the United States.

The sample consisted of general population adults ages 18 and older and an augmented sample of 18- to 29-year-olds. Ipsos invited one adult from a representative sample of households to partake in this survey. Selected panel members received an email invitation to complete the survey and were asked to do so at their earliest convenience.

A total of 1,816 US adults completed the survey. Data collection was conducted in English and Spanish from October 2–18, 2020. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The total sample design effect for this survey is 1.1396, and the margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 2.45 percentage points. Details on the sampling, questionnaire design, data collection, processing, and weighting can be found online in the Ipsos Methodology Report.

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