Civil Defense in the Cold War


A family demonstrates life in a model “atomic bomb-proof” shelter. Hartford Times/United Press Association, May 20, 1955. Hartford Times Collection, Hartford Public Library

(c) Connecticut Explored Inc. 2003 Nov/Dec/Jan 2004

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The early Cold War era was a period of heightened tension during peacetime. The Suez crisis, Sputnik, the U-2 spy plan incident, and the Cuban Missile Crisis were flashpoint, which many American feared would trigger a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Those who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s vividly remember air raid drills, instructions to “duck and cover,” and public displays of fallout shelters. It was also a period that saw the beginning of the anti-war movement. 

All photos from the Hartford Times Collection, Hartford Public Library.

top: Doris St. Pierre, on bunk bed, and Gerri Hosack test facilities in the Hartford Times Portico Fallout Shelter, which was stocked and open for public viewing. Hartford Times, October 10, 1961. bottom: Demonstration (possibly New Haven). Note early use of the peace sign. Hartford Times, May 1, 1961. photo: Ellery G. Kington. Hartford Times Collection, Hartford Public Library

inset top: Hartford Public High School students participate in an air raid drill. Hartford Times, January 15, 1951. bottom: A child is helped into an “atomic bomb-proof” shelter. Hartford Times, United Press Association, May 20, 1955


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