Bill Geerhart listens to the Nuclear Families audio program at the openining

Pamphlets, brochures, billboards and bus ads were just some of the methods employed by the U.S. government to publicize the dangers of fallout, the importance of bomb shelters and what radio station to tune to when the air raid sirens started wailing (640/1240 - CONELRAD). Other approaches included broadcast Public Service Announcements (PSAs), spoken word record albums (LPs), short instructional films and mass street theater (e.g. the Operation Alert shelter exercises that emptied Times Square once a year from 1954 through 1961).

To compliment the visual aspect of the Nuclear Families exhibition, CONELRAD created a special sound recording using some carefully chosen nuggets from its audio archives. This "medley" of aural images from the Cold War, provided exhibit attendees an opportunity to experience yet another facet of the Golden Age of Homeland Defense.


Stars for Defense
Office of Civil & Defense Mobilization (OCDM) transcription, 1960 - featuring Jay Jackson, Leo A. Hoegh, and the Crewcuts

Stars for Defense was a long-running public service program offered to radio stations by the Office of Civil Defense (and its successor agencies). It was an unusual blend of show business and survival: Celebrities would plug their latest project and then a message about fallout shelters or CONELRAD or wallet-sized "Preparedness Cards" would follow. And then, it was back to the music.

Design Slanting
Emergency Broadcasting System (EBS) PSA, 1968

This PSA was included on a record album offered to radio stations by Civil Defense. Who exactly the target demographic was for this particular track is anyone's guess.

You CAN Beat the A-Bomb
Civil Defense film, 1950

Numerous Civil Defense films were produced during the Cold War and this early example depicts a family preparing for imminent attack... in their basement. You don't have to "see" this motion picture to appreciate its absurdity.

Shelter Means Survival
Stars for Defense, 1961 - featuring Jay Jackson and Frank B. Ellis

Another visit from the Stars for Defense crew. This time Civil Defense director Ellis discusses shelter pamphlets.

Duck and Cover
Civil Defense film, 1951

The most infamous of Civil Defense films: Duck and Cover foisted terror in the form of a goofy cartoon turtle on millions of grade school children. The horror.

One Small Chinese Schoolboy
Stars for Defense, 1965 - featuring Jay Jackson

Stars for Defense returns with host Jay Jackson's tale of a community pulling together to stock a fallout shelter.

Pedro - Do You Know What To Do?
CONELRAD PSA, circa 1953

CONELRAD (a radio frequency designed to thwart enemy bombers and provide civil defense information) was a confusing concept to impart to the public. This bizarre PSA most likely added to the confusion.

Where The People Are...
Stars for Defense, 1965 - featuring Jay Jackson

Jay Jackson discusses building fallout shelters into new schools.

If The Bomb Falls
Civil Defense instructional LP, 1961

Not exactly a party record, this TOPS records release describes, in excruciating detail, what one would need in a fallout shelter. "By all means provide some tranquilizers to ease the strain and monotony of life in a shelter..."

Over 13,000 Architects and Engineers
Emergency Broadcasting System PSA, 1968

Another PSA lobbying for fallout shelters in schools.

My Own Shelter Cost $212.00
OCDM PSA, 1959 - featuring Dennis James & Leo A. Hoefgh

Director Hoegh leads by example and boasts of his thrifty family fallout shelter.

Our National Language
Emergency Broadcasting System PSA, 1968

Remember the acronym "CSP" - it could save your life.

Sounds Pretty Complicated

There will be a quiz on how CONELRAD functions as you exit the exhibition.

What To Do During A War
Operation Alert 1961, field recording

This is from a recording of an actual CONELRAD broadcast that aired during the 1961 Operation Alert, an annual Civil Defense exercise that took place from 1954 through 1961. "You may notice a weakening of your broadcast signal"

Beyond The Sign Itself
Stars for Defense, 1965 - featuring Jay Jackson and Roy Bloch & His Orchestra

One more encore from the Stars for Defense crew. This time host Jay Jackson encourages listeners to think what's behind the familiar black and yellow fallout shelter sign (other than canned water and stale crackers).