You are here

Crawl Out through the Fallout?

Title: Crawl Out through the Fallout?: Civil Defense, the Cold War, and American Memory.
Name(s): Storey, Matthew Byrne, author
Koslow, Jennifer Lisa, 1970-, professor directing thesis
Creswell, Michael, 1958-, committee member
Grant, Jonathan A., 1963-, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Arts and Sciences, degree granting college
Department of History , degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Master Thesis
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2017
Publisher: Florida State University
Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (107 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Frequently dismissed in popular culture, "civil defense" conjures images of Bert the Turtle cheerfully retreating into his shell after a cartoon explosion. Though Bert's advice was meant for children, there were countless versions of the message geared towards an adult audience. Surely, some historians argue, such information was made available to the public out of a desire to make them feel safe when in reality there was nothing that they could do in the face of a nuclear attack on the United States. Such studies echo popular objections to civil defense of its day, which treated the issue with satire or even fatalism. Focusing initially on Florida, this thesis will explore the roots of contemporary views of civil defense, and argues that they arose out of fundamentally different narratives of survival between those working in civil defense and the general public. Furthermore, this thesis traces the development of both official and public narratives into contemporary cultural memory, where the fears and concerns surrounding civil defense have endured beyond the Cold War. I draw from the internal communications and after action reports of Florida's own civil defense agency, as well as their interactions with the national office of civil defense. These expressions of a practical narrative for surviving a nuclear war do not answer the concerns of the public. The American people were by far more occupied in trying to discern the nonmaterial costs of the civil defense program. In order to outline these concerns, I utilize primarily materials which would have been readily available to the public, especially newspapers and periodicals. These materials include reporting on the state of civil defense nationally speaking, as well as popular editorials and articles which entered the civil defense debate directly. In the third section, I approach cultural and collective memories through popular movies and novels. By comparing selected works of nuclear apocalyptic fiction from the 1950s and 1960s to more recent offerings, it becomes apparent that not only are the same fears at play, they have grown more intense with time, if anything. Though many now think of civil defense as a quaint reminder of a tense era gone by, the collective understanding of it that Americans expressed and acquired through popular culture indicate that it was anything but.
Identifier: FSU_2017SP_Storey_fsu_0071N_13748 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester 2017.
Date of Defense: March 24, 2017.
Keywords: civil defense, cold war, fallout, shelters
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Jennifer Koslow, Professor Directing Thesis; Michael Creswell, Committee Member; Jonathan Grant, Committee Member.
Subject(s): History
United States -- History
Persistent Link to This Record:
Use and Reproduction: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). The copyright in theses and dissertations completed at Florida State University is held by the students who author them.
Host Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Storey, M. B. (2017). Crawl Out through the Fallout?: Civil Defense, the Cold War, and American Memory. Retrieved from