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Civil Defense Documents and Films…My Current Obsession

Several student patrons are working on research papers about the Cold War era and some are focusing on the nuclear arms race and the fear of nuclear attack. It’s been fascinating finding and reading materials we have in our print collection, including information published by the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) in the 1950s and the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization (OCDM) during the Kennedy administration. (For a concise history of civil defense preparedness, read “Civil Defense and Homeland Security: A Short History of National Preparedness Efforts” published by the Homeland Security National Preparedness Task Force).

The students are just as fascinated (and sometimes amused) as I am with these documents that represent an era we never knew and a fear we can’t relate to. Or maybe we can relate…our generation lives in fear of terrorism “code red” rather than the red scare of communism or atom bomb attack, but it’s still a fear.

Anyways, the students and I found some more civil defense documents listed in the print Monthly Catalogs (we owned some FCDA and OCDM docs, but not as many as I would’ve liked), but we also found some on the internet. So I thought I’d share some of these online government sources I’ve discovered in my hunt for all things Cold War/Civil Defense related:

* Clips of historical “test” films at the DOE agency website.

* “Mr. Civil Defense Tells About Natural Disasters!” A government document comic book!

* “In Time of Emergency: A Citizen’s Handbook on Nuclear Attack, Natural Disasters” (1968).

* The “Survival Under Atomic Attack” booklet can be found in federal depositories, but here is an online transcription.

* NARA records of the OCDM.

* “Atomic Culture” article by the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission.

* Not a government source, but a virtual Civil Defense Museum website created by a Civil Defense enthusiast.

* “Civil Defense Log Dies at 67, and Some Mourn It’s Passing” article at NYTimes.com.

And my favorite…Civil Defense videos!

* Internet Archive’s collection of Civil Defense Films and other media/film resources on civil defense.

* Some of YouTube’s collection of Civil Defense Films.

Did they really think ducking n’ covering under a school desk would protect them from a nuclear attack?

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