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HU OSA 420
Fonds 420: Collection on the Hungarian Institute for Public Opinion Research

Magyarul (in Hungarian)

Date(s) 1969-1991 (1980-1990)

Extent and medium

Estimated total:
120 linear meters of hard copy materials
24 Gbyte of electronic records
Currently processed:
148 Archival boxes, 19 linear meters

Name of creator(s)

Hungarian Institute for Public Opinion Research

Administrative/Biographical history

Archival history

The present collection was donated to OSA by the Hungarian sociologist and writer Mária Vásárhelyi. In November 2011, when the decision was taken to close the MTA-ELTE research group, she offered OSA the collection of her own research materials, documents, publications and duplicate copies, as well as those produced over the years at the Mass Communication Center (TK) and its successor, the Hungarian Public Opinion Research Institute (MKI). Her aim was thus to secure professional assistance in the preservation of these digital documents. From the beginning, Mária Vásárhelyi took an active role in the reconstruction of the Center’s documentary legacy, a task expedited by the participation of her former colleagues, who helped to make the collection even more comprehensive.

The donation agreement was signed by OSA and Mária Vásárhelyi in May 2012, with the aim of opening up the collection to the public by the spring of 2013. Understanding the workings and structure of the Institute did not prove to be a challenging task, and the numerous publications, newspaper articles and interviews made it possible to organize the various bodies of documentation. OSA also received 1,764 large floppy disks containing software programs, data files and other unknown digital material. By setting up an emulator station, the original files could be converted and saved in OSA’s Digital Repository. As a result, 88% of the digital files could be converted to a readable format, using modern software. The next step in the preservation process was to connect data with the relevant research projects: duplicate data were deselected, and files were tested and labeled to produce .sav files that can be analyzed using statistical software. The first phase of work, which lasted several months, saw the complete or partial reconstruction of 65 research data sets, which can be linked to one or more research projects. (Each survey could incorporate a number of themes related to media or suggestions arising from public opinion research.) At present, a further 150 data files await identification in relation to the analog collection and labeling in order to become researchable for the broader public. It should be noted that given the lack of certain data, complete reconstruction is not possible in all cases, and will require further analysis by researchers.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donation by Mária Vásárhelyi

Scope and content

The main profile of TK/MKI concerned media and public research although, from its beginnings, the Institute also carried out economic and political public opinion research. The Institute was something of a curiosity within the Socialist bloc, since it was the only institution to carry out systematic academic research in order to understand the workings of the media, the public’s behavior and public opinion. Although its fundamental research profiles remained the same until the end, from the second half of the 1980s, it placed increasing emphasis on political and economic public opinion research. Within this field of its activities, and rather than using earlier national surveys based on representative samples, the Institute focused instead on instant surveys intended to sound out the actual state of political public opinion.

The ‘Research’ sub-section of the present collection comprehensively documents the TK/MKI’s research profile: close to 500 documents recording data, and almost 200 data files have remained, with varying levels of detail. The second sub-section, the ‘Publications and Research Reports’ subfonds, strives to organize the products of TK/MKI’s publication and documentation activities. Reports, statements and confidential statements for internal use are color-coded according to extent of circulation. Publications for the professional public, however, clearly form a separate series. It is also here that the documents originally intended for archiving can be found, and this mainly consists of the documents marked ‘D’. The third subfonds is rather incomplete, consisting of sporadic institutional documents, administrative accounts and personnel lists.

What people thought prior to the change of system about economics, politics, neighboring peoples or minorities at home can mostly only be known through second- or third-hand sources. Similarly, if we want to form a picture of people’s media consumption, or public opinion prior to 1989, we are usually compelled to refer again to indirect information. The TK/MKI collection, however, organizes everything we can know from quantitative and qualitative examination of media consumption about the individual, the official public sphere, and relations between the media and semi-public sphere, into one unique whole.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Only spare copies of documents were destroyed, publications are archived in two copies, internal publications in more than two copies.

Accruals Expected

System of arrangement

Conditions governing access No special restriction applies

Conditions governing reproduction

Only non commercial use, research and education purposes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The physical condition of paper documents is good, no special care needed. The digital files are readable only with SPSS software, ensured by a designated work station in OSA Research Room.

Existence and location of originals


Keywords: mass communication, media studies, public opinion survey, history of sociology

Archivist's Note

The collection expands on a constant basis, the finding aid is updated continously

Date(s) of descriptions Online version updated 29 May 2013

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