The USA 1945-1959

From the Cold War, to Beats, throught the 1950s - sites/documents/video relating to the the domestic development of the USA in 15 years after World War Two.

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Truman Loyalty Oath (March 21st 1947)
Truman Loyalty Oath (March 21st 1947)
concerned with Soviet subversive penetration and infiltration into the United States government by American citizens who held oaths of allegiance to a foreign power during war time, President Harry S Truman instituted a Loyalty Program, requiring loyalty oaths and background investigations on persons deemed suspect of holding party membership in organizations that advocated violent and anti-democratic programs. In implying suspicion, was this the first act of McCarthyism
Authentic History: HUAC in Hollywood (1947)
Authentic History: HUAC in Hollywood (1947)
11 short clips from the House Committee on Un-American Activities' visit to Hollywood to root out communist subversion.
Ronald Reagan & Walt Disney testify before HUAC (1947)
Ronald Reagan & Walt Disney testify before HUAC (1947)
History Matters presents extracts from 2 'friendly witnesses' who testified before the Hollywood hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) during hearings in Hollywood in 1947. Why did either man support efforts to root out communists? There are links to other red scare material via this page.
Truman Library: the 1948 Election
Truman Library: the 1948 Election
In 1948 Harry S. Truman faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge to retaining the presidency: squeezed by a strong Republican candidate and facing the fracturing of support within the Democratic Party. These documents provide an insight in how Truman pulled off an improbable win.
Hubert Humphrey, 'Convention Address' (14th July, 1948)
Hubert Humphrey, 'Convention Address' (14th July, 1948)
During a convention and campaign in which the Democratic Party creaked at the seams over race, Hubert Humphrey pushed the party toward backing a pro-civil rights agenda.
States Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrat) Manifesto (1948)
States Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrat) Manifesto (1948)
This brief manifesto was all that J. Strom Thurmond needed to carry 4 southern states - over 1 million popular votes and 39 electoral college votes. The Party was broadly formed of Southern Democrats unhappy with Harry Truman's platform. What does the manifesto tell you about the issue of civil rights in the mind of Southern Democrats?
Famous American Trials: The Hiss Trials (1949-50)
Famous American Trials: The Hiss Trials (1949-50)
Chronology clips and documents of the trial that propelled the career of Richard Nixon and helped intensify the sense that communist spies were undermining the USA from within. Hiss was a senior state department official tried twice - first (broadly) for being a communist spy and second for perjuring himself (lying) in the first trial. Hiss was convicted - does the trial evidence convince you of his guilt?
Joseph McCarthy, Wheeling, West Virginia, (February 9th, 1950)
Joseph McCarthy, Wheeling, West Virginia, (February 9th, 1950)
It was this speech, and the variations read into the congressional record that established the groundwork for Senator Joe Mccarthy's short but powerful moment in the limelight. Here McCarthy sets out his populist thesis that an elite have sold out the country's secrets - leading to the fall of China and the USSR gaining the atomic bomb.This page contains both extracts from the speech and McCarthy's telegram to Truman stating his case.
Famous American The Rosenbergs Spy trial (1951)
Famous American The Rosenbergs Spy trial (1951)
Julius & Ethel Rosenberg were two Americans working in the US nuclear weapons programme found guilty of passing secrets to the Russians. The pair were executed in 1953, but while evidence exists of Julius' spy connections, even the evidence from Soviet spy cables is vague as to whether Ethel knew anything. What does the trial tell us about the climate of anticommunism in the early 1950s?
Authentic History: Red Channels extracts (1950)
Authentic History: Red Channels extracts (1950)
Extracts from the anticommunist pamplet that 'named and shamed' alleged communists. in the movie industry. The blacklist destroyed or damaged numerous careers.
CIA: Soviet espionage in the USA Venona Transcripts (1936-45)
CIA: Soviet espionage in the USA Venona Transcripts (1936-45)
PDFs of the intercepted cables from the Soviet secret service which were used to uncover spies within the US. Key documents in the prosecution of the Rosenbergs and others.
Dwight Eisenhower, First TV Election ads (1952)
Dwight Eisenhower, First TV Election ads (1952)
In 'Eisenhower answers America' and the other adverts here, you can see American politics coming to terms with the new medium.
Richard Nixon, The 'Checkers' Speech,  (23rd September 1952)
Richard Nixon, The 'Checkers' Speech, (23rd September 1952)
Vice-Presidential nominee Richard Nixon explains his funding arrangements and the existence of the family dog 'Checkers'. Is Nixon successful in using TV? How does this differ from his appearance in debate with John Kennedy in 1960?
See it Now: Senator Joseph McCarthy March 9th 1954
See it Now: Senator Joseph McCarthy March 9th 1954
The full episode of the influential CBS news programme in which journalist Ed Murrow sought to assess the working of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
The Literature & Culture of the American 1950s
The Literature & Culture of the American 1950s
University of Pennsylvania site containing short extracts from key texts of the decade, links to articles and images. A really useful collection for exploring the culture of conformity, fear of communism, the rise of centrist politics, and youth rebellion.
Adviews - American TV adverts from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Adviews - American TV adverts from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Duke University's online archive holding thousands of television commercials created or collected by the D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B) advertising agency, dated 1950s - 1980s.
Enduring Outrage: Editorial Cartoons by Herblock
Enduring Outrage: Editorial Cartoons by Herblock
Herbert Block (aka Herblock) was a leading editorial cartoonist of the second half of the twentieth century. This site contains hundreds of his single image, procative cartoons that comment on the many cultural, diplomatic and political changes the United States faced during the period. A great teaching resource.
50 Years of Coca-Cola adverts
50 Years of Coca-Cola adverts
Library of Congress site containing what the title might lead you to expect - Coke ads from the 50s onward. Also contains a brief history of advertising.
The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Election broadcasts
The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Election broadcasts
As the title suggests a great archive of presidential campaign adverts from 1952 onwards.
Levittown: The Imperfect Rise of American Suburbs
Levittown: The Imperfect Rise of American Suburbs
What do you think of when you read the words 'American Suburb?' Crystal Galyean's great overview for History Scene uses film clips to raise questions about how the most famous postwar American suburb came to exist and what it tells us about developing ideas of the city, community, suburbia, politics and race. A great accessible introduction to a complex subject.