Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John McMillian

Second Advisor

Alex Cummings


Throughout the 1950s, U.S. policymakers actively encouraged Americans to participate in civil defense through a variety of policies. In 1958, amidst confusion concerning which of these policies were most efficient, President Eisenhower established the National Shelter Plan and a new civil defense agency titled The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization. This agency urged homeowners to build private fallout shelters through print media. In response, Americans used newspapers, magazines, and science fiction novels to contest civil defense and the foreign and domestic policies that it was based upon, including nuclear strategy. Many Americans remained unconvinced of the viability of civil defense or feared its psychological impacts on society. Eventually, these criticisms were able to weaken civil defense efforts and even alter nuclear defense strategy and missile defense technology.