Video: Michael Scheibach on America’s Atomic Obsession

Mr. Civil Defense

In the decade spanning the 1950s, the U.S. government churned out roughly 400 million pieces of Civil Defense propaganda. If that fact alone is not enough to make you want to “duck and cover,” consider the actual threat of nuclear annihilation Americans lived under during the Atomic Age.

Historian Michael Scheibach is an expert in what could be called the social history of the a-bomb. His exhibit Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow: Living with the Atomic Bomb 1945-65, on display through January 6, 2013, at the Central Library, is by turns harrowing and hilarious.

Through a rich collection of images and artifacts, the exhibit explores America’s reaction to the threat of nuclear war, which many believed could literally destroy the planet.

Alert Today combines the playful (toy ray guns, board games, an “atomic kite”) with the scary (a pamphlet titled “The Atomic Bomb and the End of the World”) to present a picture of an American people responding to imminent extinction with an attitude that was equal portions scared-out-of-their-pants and devil-may-care.

Scheibach will discuss the atomic era’s impact on generations of Americans when he speaks in the Central Library on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP to attend.

Get a preview of the exhibit and Scheibach’s talk in the video below:

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
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