A Lesson in Civil Defense

As a bit of a modern history buff I was pleased to find a few interesting websites related to Civil Defense in the post WWII era last month. First up is the online Civil Defense Museum. This enjoyable site shows you just some of what went on during the cold war era of civil defense including photos and information about fallout shelters, propaganda posters and more. One thing which would make this even better is if high resolution scans of some of the posters could be posted, it’s difficult to locate these CD posters!

The same site has some information and photos from a decommisioned Nike Missile Base. For those not in the know the Nike missile system was a surfact to air defense system built in a ring around many major metropolitan areas during the cold war. This is of interest to me because my mother grew up on a farm nead one of these bases. An even better example of what one of these bases looked like in their heyday can be found in these photos from a restored base (SF-88) just North of San Francisco, CA.

Slightly older than the Nike bases and the cold war civil defense information are some of the famous World War II propaganda posters. These are much easier to locate and generally better preserved than the civil defense ones. For example, the Northwestern University Library has an online gallery of their poster collection and will provide public domain high resolution scans (so you could print your own copies if you wanted) for a nominal fee, it’s not free but at least they make them available. An even better collection and better scans lies closer to me at the Univeristy of Minnesota digial World War I and II poster collection. These are even better preserved and better indexed than the Northwestern ones. Unfortunatly, they don’t have any provision for sharing full resolution (or even high resolution) copies of their scans, even for a fee. It’s a shame that a public instiution is sitting on what could be a fantastic collection of high resolution public domain artwork from an important time in our nation’s history. I do understand the need to recoup the cost of scanning these and sending copies out but a nominal fee could easily cover these expenses.

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