duck and cover: cold war civil defense in our schools

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duck and cover: cold war civil defense in our schools
Welcome to Treasures from the FCS Archives, a repository of resources for teachers and history enthusiasts!
Every month, we are sharing photos, artifacts, documents and other treasures for you to review, discuss
and discover. We encourage you to click the links, scan the photos and dig deeper into these treasures,
all of which can be found in the Fulton County Schools Archives. Enjoy!
Duck and Cover: Cold War Civil Defense in our Schools
F
or the 45 years after World
War II, the United States and
the Soviet Union were engaged in a standoff known as
the Cold War. A nuclear attack during
this time would have threatened millions
of civilian lives in a matter of minutes.
Public schools, the most centralized public
spaces in most communities, became the
front line for federal policies and procedures known as Civil Defense. By 1952,
nearly 90% of all the schools in America
had some form of civil defense training for
students.
Fallout Shelter Drinking Water Tank and Sanitation Kit c. 1966
Office of Civil Defense, Manufactured by Continental Can Company, Inc., New York.
Size: two canisters, 22”x18” each
FCS Archive: FIC.2016.19.36
Curiosity in the Classroom:
A Closer Look
Close
Reading
Guide
Lesson Ideas & Links:
Connecting to Standards
Elementary
School
Connections
Related
Primary
Sources
High
Click on the image above for a higher resolution jpeg. Ask
students to carefully look at the image using the following
questions. For more in depth study, click on the close
reading guide pdf or word doc.
Ask students:
● Describe what you see.
● Does the list of contents raise questions for you?
● Is there anything that is surprising or unusual?
● What do these containers and contents tell you about
life in the United States during the 1960s? Support
your ideas with evidence from these primary sources.
Middle
School
Connections
High
School
Connections
Ask the
Teaching
Museum
Additional
Online
Resources
Perhaps the most recognizable role
schools played in civil defense was to
house an extensive network of public fallout shelters. In 1962, at the height of the
Cold War, President John F. Kennedy allocated $207,600,000 to fund a public
shelter program that would rely largely
on the use of schools as places of refuge.
The drinking water tank and sanitation
kit you see here were, until recently,
stored at Mimosa Elementary School and
were typical items in a school fallout shelter. Although relatively compact, this
drink water (dark green) tank would supply 17½ gallons of fresh water. Once the
water was consumed, the tank doubled as
a commode. The sanitation kit contains
items such as toilet paper, a syphon spout,
and gloves.
By the latter part of the 20th century,
many fallout shelters in Fulton County
schools were either abandoned or repurposed to account for “natural” disasters,
such as tornadoes and floods. Still, items
like the drinking water tank and sanitation kit remind us of a time when fallout
shelters—and survival—were national
priorities that impacted communities and
schools directly.
For more information and
resources or to connect with staff
at the Teaching Museum,
contact Jena Sibille at
[email protected]
Elementary Connections
SS5H5 Discuss the origins and consequences of the Cold War.
SS5G1 Locate important places in the United States.
● Map Activity
Have students indicate on a United States map the areas that they think would have been important places for the Soviet Union to target for a nuclear attack during the Cold War. Make sure students explain why they choose these areas as potential
targets. Ask students which area would be closest to where they live. Then have the students find the nearest place on the
map where they think it would have been safe for their families to evacuate. Ask questions about what they would pack if they
had to go into hiding. How would you survive without electricity, running water, etc.? Have the students write about how
their lives would have changed if Georgia had suffered a nuclear attack.
Back to the Main Guide
Middle School Connections
SS8CG3b. Describe how the executive branch fulfills its role through state agencies that administer programs and enforce laws.
SS8H10 Evaluate key post-World War II developments in Georgia.
● Photograph Analysis
Ask students to list all the items they can identify in the photo of Harris Street Elementary School that are found in the fallout
shelter. What items would students take to a fallout shelter today? How would these items be different from those taken by
students in the 1950s?
ELAGSE8W3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and
well-structured event sequences.
● Moral Questions
Some families could afford fallout shelters, others could not. Would you risk running out of provisions for your family to let
your neighbors in? Would you risk exposing your family to radiation to possibly let someone in? Have students write a diary
entry from the point of view of someone facing these moral questions.
Back to the Main Guide
High School Connections
SSUSH20 Analyze U.S. international and domestic policies including their influences on technological advancements and social changes during
the Truman and Eisenhower administrations.
ELAGSE11-12RI1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from
the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
ELAGSE11-12SL1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse
partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
● Duck and Cover
Have your students watch Duck and Cover without providing any background. Have students share their thoughts/feeling on the
video. Ask the students to theorize what effect “Duck and Cover” would have on people their age in the 1950s. You can then have
them read Jake Hughes article on Duck and Cover to learn about the lasting legacy of this Federal Civil Defense Administration
film.
SSWH22 Analyze globalization in the contemporary world.
ELAGSE9-10RI7: Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in print and multimedia), determining
which details are emphasized in each account.
ELAGSE9-10W7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a
problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject
under investigation.
ELAGSE9-10SL2: Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating
the credibility and accuracy of each source.
● Current Situation
Have students research the current situation of nuclear weaponry today. Find out what countries currently have nuclear capability
and what the estimate is of the nuclear arsenals for these different countries. What safeguards are in place, if any, to limit the ability of terrorists and dictators to acquire a nuclear weapon?
SEV3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to evaluate types, availability, allocation, and sustainability of energy resources.
ELAGSE9-10W7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a
problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject
under investigation.
ELAGSE9-10SL2: Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating
the credibility and accuracy of each source.
● Modern Fallout Shelter
Ask students if fallout shelters offered realistic protection from a nuclear attack. What materials can withstand a nuclear blast?
What would the environment be like for people who survived a nuclear attack? You could even have your students design a fallout
shelter that would protect civilians from today’s weapons.
Back to the Main Guide

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