by Alan Brinkley

The years from the end of World War II to the end of the 1950s were dominated by four powerful changes in American life. The first was the birth of the Cold War, and the great fears that it created. The second was the dramatic growth of affluence, which transformed the lives of many, but not all, Americans. The third was a growing anxiety among many Americans who felt that their lives were too constricted by the staid culture of the era. And the fourth was the emergence of a new subversive culture growing beneath the smooth, stable surface of the decade that would explode in the 1960s.More »

Essays

is Communism Un-American, by Eugene Dennis (1947). (National Archives)

Anti-Communism in the 1950s

Author: Wendy Wall Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Family fallout shelter, ca. 1957. (National Archives)

Cold War, Warm Hearth

Author: Elaine Tyler May Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

The Catcher in the Rye: The Voice of Alienation

Author: Timothy Aubry Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
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Featured Primary Sources

Albert Einstein to Rose Russell [in German], [May 28], 1953. (Gilder Lehrman Col

Albert Einstein on the McCarthy hearings and the Fifth Amendment, 1953

Creator: Albert Einstein Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Douglas MacArthur to Mary Cushman, October 24, 1950. (GLC05508.173)

Condolence letter from General MacArthur, 1950

Creator: Douglas MacArthur Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
John F. Kennedy, [Portion of an address], ca. August 12, 1952 (GLC02313)

JFK on the containment of Communism, 1952

Creator: John F. Kennedy Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels: 13+
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Teaching Resources

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Domestic Leadership

Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Mass Production, Suburbia & Conformity in the 1950s

Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Success and the American Dream during the 1950s

Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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Multimedia

Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974

Speaker(s): James Patterson Duration: 39 minutes 55 seconds
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