A new UIC Library exhibit, “Chicago Alert! The City Plans for Atomic Attack,” features documents, maps, photographs and memorabilia from several of the Library’s special collections illustrating how views on and plans for civil defense preparedness evolved over time among city officials and various Chicago area organizations and institutions, including UIC.
As part of Open Archives Chicago, David Greenstein, exhibit curator and Special Collections and University Archives lecturer, will host a special tour and presentation about the exhibit from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Richard J. Daley Library, Special Collections and University Archives, Third Floor. Participants will have an opportunity to view additional materials that are not on display. Registration is required.
Spurred by fear of the Cold War and rooted in the American values of individualism, consumerism, volunteerism and free-market capitalism, civil defense campaigns during the 1950s were meant to both scare and reassure citizens. They sought to inspire people to participate in their own defense by building private family fallout shelters while avoiding panic and limiting the expectation that the federal government should — or could — provide protection from an atomic attack. In large cities like Chicago, however, most people did not have the space or money to build their own shelters, and civil defense programs shifted to a focus on mass evacuation.