Display of Operational Data

The chaotic period immediately following a nuclear attack would require snap decisions based on accurate information.  Display of Operational Data, released by the Office of Civil Defense in 1967, shows how proper collection of facts and proper presentation of statistics is vital to post-attack management.  Set in the emergency operating center of a city inundated with radioactive fallout, a host shows viewers the best methods to display information.

A Concrete Plan for Civil Defense

Realizing a unique opportunity to showcase its services and equipment, as well as its commitment to national civil defense efforts, The Ready Mixed Concrete Company teamed with The Colorado Civil Defense Agency in 1953 to release A Concrete Plan for Civil Defense.  The film describes the many ways concrete mixer trucks will play in civil defense, primarily by transporting water and aiding firefighters and medical personnel. 
Environment for Education

In 1973, The Defense Civil Preparedness Agency was busy expanding traditional notions of civil defense to include natural disasters, civil disturbances and pollution in addition to nuclear readiness.  As part of this strategy, Environment for Education was released.  The film examines how architectural designs in new school buildings diminish noise pollution, increase fallout radiation protection and minimize damage from rioting students.

School for Survival

Set in the Federal Civil Defense Administration's training center in Olney, Maryland, this 1952 film documents the studies of a class of volunteers from across the United States.  A civil defense warden completing a rescue course is impressed by the scale and authenticity of the disaster scenarios offered at Olney.  He leaves determined to create a similar resource in his hometown in order to better prepare his neighbors from the threat of atomic attack.


Lease of Life: The Civil Defense Emergency Hospital

Detailing a four step plan to ensure medical continuity after an atomic attack on New York, this film features extensive scenes assembling a packaged Improvised Emergency Hospital.  Released in 1957 by The New York State Civil Defense Commission, the film boasts the approval of several medical boards as well. Stressing organization above all else, location, staffing, equipment and resupply for the hospital are also discussed in detail.


The Role of the Warden in the H-Bomb Era

This film covers the ever-changing role of the civil defense warden throughout the 1950's.  Following an inner-city block warden and a civil defense official from a rural era, they describe their duties and how they cooperate to evacuate a large city and receive refugees.  Although originally released as an animated production, by 1957, live-action scenes were added in to keep viewers with the most up-to-date advice.


Texas Has A Brand New School

When The United Independent School District voted to build a new high school, a decision was made to include fallout shelter space.  Highlighting this example of a new building designed to serve as a public fallout shelter, The Office of Civil Defense documented the planning and construction in its 1965 film Texas Has A Brand New School.  Featuring testimony from students, parents, and staff, the film offers a look at local participation in the civil defense process.


Big Men in Small Boats

Accepting both the vulnerability and the advantage of America's seaboard communities, The Federal Civil Defense Administration released Big Men In Small Boats in 1956 to highlight how sailors can aid in the event of an atomic attack.  With fallout settling and debris in every direction, boat captains would have the best knowledge of navigable waterways.  Big Men In Small Boats examines how impromptu rescue fleets would best serve civil defense efforts.

Food For Thought

Released by the Colorado Civil Defense Agency in 1956, Food for Thought is aimed at suburban housewives, assigning them the vital task of food preparation after an enemy attack.  The film examines changes to the food industry over the first half of the 20th Century, highlighting its vulnerability to the atomic bomb.  When Denver is bombed, the actions of four housewives are presented along with general advice for stockpiling food during any type of emergency.
Air Raid Instructions For the Home

This one minute television spot entitled Air Raid Instructions for the Home was released as part of the Take Cover series by The Federal Civil Defense Administration in April of 1952.  Consisting of 4 brief films, as well as one longer film, the series aimed to teach Americans what to do in various locations in the event of a surprise enemy atomic attack.  In this installation, a family dinner is interrupted by an air-raid siren and a blinding flash of light.
The H-Bomb Over Illinois

As promised by its title, The H-Bomb Over Illinois examines what would happen should an enemy target the "Peaceful Land of Lincoln" with hydrogen weapons.  Released by the Illinois Civil Defense Agency in 1956, the film focuses on Chicago and explains how radioactive fallout would spread far and wide.  The disruption such an attack would cause on commercial, industrial and population centers like Peoria, The Quad Cities and East St. Louis is also highlighted.

Your Chance to Live: Pollution

In 1972, The Defense Civil Preparedness Agency took over emergency preparations for The United States and sought to create awareness for dangers in both peace and wartime.  The Your Chance to Live film series addresses nuclear attack, but also threats like natural disasters.  Pollution, the 8th film in this series, presents a far-reaching global problem by hypothesizing a world where life has gone extinct due to contamination from trash, smog and chemicals.

Medical Self-Help: Fractures and Splinters

During a "major disaster" situation, this film explains, the majority of injuries would be fractures.  Released by the Office of Civil Defense and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1965 as part of the Medical Self-Help Series, Fractures and Splinters shows how to identify and set broken bones.  While nuclear attack is never explicitly mentioned, the narrator emphasizes moving victims into a "sheltered environment", later shown to be a public fallout shelter.

Public Shelter Organization and Staff

If a population was forced to seek refuge inside of a public fallout shelter, it was hoped that strict adherence to well-rehearsed procedures would ensure peaceful occupancy.  Public Shelter Organization and Staff demonstrates how to implement procedures to effectively manage a shelter after a nuclear attack.  Interestingly, the film also depicts unexpected situations, such as the death of trained staff and power outages, forcing the shelter manager to improvise.


One World Or None

Preceding the genre of Cold War civil defense films was a cautionary tale warning against a future where nations face off with atomic weapons.  Released by Philip Ragan Productions and The Federation of American Scientists in 1946, One World or None stresses that unless a global body controls atomic energy, global destruction will result.  To drive home this risk, the film examines the damage that would be caused if an atomic bomb struck an American city.


Lifeline of the Nation

To highlight the contributions of the rail industry in the Second World War, The Association of American Railroads produced the film Lifeline of the Nation in May of 1945.  Looking to promote their continuing efforts towards civil defense in the Hydrogen Age, the Association released an updated version in 1958.  Arguing that railroads are ideally suited to transport food and rescue workers into areas stricken by an enemy bomb, the film also showcases new rail technology.

Facts Make the Difference

In the chaos which would surely follow an enemy atomic attack, there would be a risk of rumors and false information causing panic and lowering morale.  It would be the job of civil defense to ensure all actions were based on accurate information.  Facts Make the Difference, released by The Office of Civil Defense in 1965, examines ways to collect and act upon information.  Firemen, police, and shelter managers are encouraged to ask who, what, when, where and why.


Face of Disaster

Using footage from the critically acclaimed Office of Civil Defense film Though the Earth Be Moved, Face of Disaster tells the story of Alaska's devastating Good Friday Earthquake.  Released by The Office of Civil Defense in 1965, the film also examines other deadly natural disaster from tornado outbreaks to floods.  A fast-talking narrator warns that no matter what the threat, be it nature's fury of an enemy nuclear missile, viewers must be prepared.

A Day in September

When the National Fallout Shelter Program first began, many initial shelters were located in federal buildings.  As it waned in the late 1960's, buildings owned and operated by the federal government were primarily the only locations still marked and stocked as public shelters.  A Day in September, released in 1968 by the Office of Civil Defense, visits federal buildings across the United States designed to provide fallout protection and ensure government continuity.


Manual Damage Assessment

The aftermath of a nuclear strike on the United States would be chaotic, to say the least.  Should such an attach disable conventional means of communication, civil defense officials would need to rely on alternative methods of determining which areas have been hit.  In 1967, the Office of Civil Defense released Manual Damage Assessment to train volunteers in how to calculate the location and scale of a nuclear detonation using only eyewitness accounts and radio reports.

Bleeding and Bandaging

Released as part of the Medical Self-Help film series in 1965, Bleeding and Bandaging shows viewers to treat severe cuts and and lacerations when there is no expectation of aid from trained doctors or nurses.  The film, produced by The Office of Civil Defense in 1965, focuses on conventional and industrial scenarios involving everyday injuries.  The aftermath of a nuclear attack is also shown and the need to move victims into shelters is discussed in detail.

The Five Days of Betsy

Hurricane Betsy slammed into the Gulf Coast of the United States in the fall of 1965, carving a swath of destruction and leaving 81 dead.  In 1966 the Office of Civil Defense released A Hurricane Called Betsy to highlight the role civil defense measures played during the disaster.  With a run time of 30 minutes, A Hurricane Called Betsy was deemed too long to screen for crowds at civil defense exhibits this shorter version was released as The Five Days of Betsy. 


Rescue Street

When a petty feud between neighbors leads one man to show off his local civil defense unit's new rescue truck, it sparks a discussion on the importance of volunteers in the event of an atomic attack.  Featuring the National Civil Defense Training Center in Olney, Maryland, this humorous film was released by the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1954.  Sponsored by the R.E.O. Motor Company, the film also promotes the use of trucks  in civil defense.
Nuclear Weapons Effects for Monitoring Training

As its title implies, Nuclear Weapons Effects for Monitor Training was meant to be screened for audiences training to become radiological monitors.  Released by the Office of Civil Defense in 1963, the film provides an overview of how nuclear detonations create fallout radiation and how its decay can be measured.  An authoritative host uses a model town and spinning charts to discuss the stages of radiation from the initial blast to delayed global fallout.

Safety Measures in Public Shelters

This Office of Civil Defense film from 1963 outlines the duties of the public fallout shelter safety manager.  While following a safety manager through an empty shelter as he checks his paperwork and equipment, the narrator discusses the various responsibilities of the position which include confiscating dangerous objects and maintaining order.  Additionally, the safety manager must be ready to fight fires or tunnel out of compromised shelter spaces in the event of collapse. 

Public Shelter Supplies: What Additional Supplies Are Desirable?

Released in 1963 as a companion to Public Shelter Supplies: What does the Government Supply? this Office of Civil Defense film makes it clear that life in a public fallout shelter would be spartan.  Because the federal government will only provide supplies necessary for survival, localities are encouraged fill their shelters with extra amenities.  An austere shelter is depicted alongside one stocked with cots, canned food, books, and other items to increase comfort.


Public Shelter Supplies: What Does the Government Supply?

Once a structure was structure was marked as a public fallout shelter, the next step was to stock it with supplies.  The Office of Civil Defense offered food, water, sanitation items, medical kits, and radiological detection equipment.  This film, from 1963, highlights the efforts of the federal government to provide basic essentials to sustain a shelter occupant for up to eleven days inside a public shelter.  Local authorities are repeatedly urged to stock additional supplies.
Operation Scramble

During Operation Alert 1955, St. Louis County Hospital tested a plan designed to relocate patients and staff in the event of an enemy atomic attack on St. Louis, Missouri.  Footage captured during this test, dubbed Operation Scramble, was edited together with an interview of the coordinating physician into this film of the same name, released by the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1957.  Dr. John M. Whitney, Health Services director for the F.C.D.A., hosts.

Rural Community Defense

Just as in past wars, in the event of an enemy atomic attack, tremendous responsibility would be placed on American farmers and ranchers to sustain the nation.  Rural Community Defense, released by the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization in 1960, serves to remind rural populations of this responsibility and to inform them of the dangers of fallout radiation, which can spread great distances beyond a target area. Care and housing of refugees is also discussed.


Facts About Fallout

By 1955, the Federal Civil Defense Administration recognized fallout radiation as a deadly side-effect of an enemy atomic attack.  That same year, to help remove the misinformation which spread quickly whenever the topic of radioactivity was raised, a colorful pamphlet titled Facts About Fallout was published to explain the basic ways of protecting individuals and families from fallout.  This animated film of the same name, released in 1957, brings the pamphlet to life.
Healthful Living in Emergencies

The need to seek shelter from radioactive fallout in the event of an enemy nuclear attack would have forced millions of Americans into protected, yet cramped and confined spaces with few conveniences of modern life. Released as part of a series of Medical Self-Help films in 1965, Healthful Living in Emergencies examines the problem maintaining adequate food and water supplies in fallout shelters, as well as the problems of sanitation and disease.   

Radioactive Fallout and Shelter

Anticipating interruptions in medical services following a nuclear attack, the Office of Civil Defense and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare developed the concept of Medical Self-Help to train Americans to treat ailments with no expectation of aid from doctors. In 1965, eleven films were released to supplement this program. The first film, Radioactive Fallout and Shelter, explains the dangers of fallout and demonstrates how to treat radiation sickness.

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One Week in October

The Cuban Missile Crisis offers the only international situation to date where the American public believed a nuclear war was probable.  In 1964, the Office of Civil Defense produced One Week in October using footage shot during the crisis to examine how populations respond to emergency situations.  The film argues that while most were aware of civil defense measures and the National Fallout Shelter System, too many relied on last second plans driven by panic.

Sky Sentinels

Created as a public service by the aircraft manufacturer Lear, Inc. in 1956, Sky Sentinels explores the role of America's Civil Air Patrol in civil defense.  The film highlights the Civil Air Patrol's participation in Operation Cue, where volunteer pilots flew reconnaissance and evacuation missions and conducted aerial fallout monitoring.  Specialized equipment, which is manufactured exclusively by Lear, Inc., is also demonstrated as the ideal solution to many in-flight problems.

The House in the Middle

Released by the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1953, The House in the Middle uses footage from the Nevada Proving Grounds to argue that well-kept homes are much less likely to catch fire during an enemy atomic attack than dilapidated homes.  Although not as well known as it's colorized remake, this version of The House in the Middle provides a fascinating look at early American civil defense policy and attempts to educate homeowners on the atomic threat.

Decision Making In Civil Defense

Throughout history, military commanders, politicians, and even civilians, have been called upon to make difficult decisions in difficult circumstances.  After an enemy attack, civil defense personnel would have been expected to make snap judgments while under enormous stress.  Comedian Eddie Bracken hosts Decision Making in Civil Defense, a 1967 film guiding volunteer civil defense officials through the process of decision making in times of emergency.

Town of the Times

Released in 1964, Town of the Times unfolds as a standoff between two men on opposing sides of a public fallout shelter debate.  Insurance salesman George McCardle views public shelters as vital protection for the future of his community.  William Groves sees them as an unnecessary encouragement of war.  The use of well-known actors and a dramatic storyline makes the film, which was meant for television broadcast, an incredibly entertaining watch.


Community Protection Through Civil Defense

Months after the creation of a National Fallout Shelter Program, officials in Jacksonville, Florida began negotiating with property owners to acquire public shelter space.  Hoping to set an example, Jacksonville filmed each step it took towards creating a local fallout shelter plan, releasing the footage under the title Community Protection Through Civil Defense in 1963.  The film highlights a one-day shelter stocking effort in October of 1962 where volunteers made ready shelter for 50,000 people.


Radiological Defense

In the final months of its existence, the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization produced a number of motion pictures which stressed protection from radioactive fallout.  By far, the most widely distributed of these films was Radiological Defense which offers a comprehensive look at how individuals and local governments can deal with the fallout of an enemy atomic attack.  Also featured is a high school training program for students interested in learning about radiological monitoring. 


Handbook for Survival

In order to see how average populations would fare inside a community fallout shelter, the Office of Civil Defense observed large groups of volunteers confined to a warehouse in downtown Athens, Georgia.  Using an experimental guidebook, otherwise untrained citizens organize themselves to survive for a week under conditions simulating a nuclear attack.  A film crew from the University of Georgia captured raw footage of the experiment.
Fallout Shelter: What Is It?

The concept of seeking shelter from radioactive fallout was relatively new to Americans when the Kennedy Administration introduced the National Fallout Shelter System in late 1961.  This film, released by the Office of Civil Defense in 1963, explains the process of selecting buildings to be used for public shelter.  In addition to discussing the use of solid building materials, the film offers some interesting alternatives for cities to consider.

Survival Under Atomic Attack

Just months after its creation in December of 1950, the Federal Civil Defense Administration ordered the production of nine films concerning emergency preparedness and unconventional methods of enemy attack.  The first of these "official" government films to see release was Survival Under Atomic Attack, a nine minute short based off a pamphlet of the same name.  Famed broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow provides a stern narration.

Target You

By releasing Target You in 1955, The Federal Civil Defense Administration hoped to stress upon the audience that, as citizens of the United States, they were under the threat of enemy atomic bombs.  Using animation, the film becomes a literal checklist of responsibilities which homeowners must complete if warning of an impending attack is given.  At a brisk eight minutes in length, Target You focuses only on the immediate tasks needed to save lives and stop fires.

Three Reactions to Shelter Life

Instead of explaining the physical science behind protection from radioactive fallout, Three Reactions to Shelter Life examines the psychological problems likely to occur when people are confined to fallout shelters following a nuclear attack.  By presenting three scenarios which highlight the mental stress and physical violence that such cramped quarters may give rise to, this 1964 Office of Civil Defense film asks fallout shelter managers how they would better handle troubled occupants.


Rehearsal For Disaster

The need for immediate aid after an atomic attack meant heavy reliance would be placed on the trucking industry to move valuable supplies and personnel into targeted cities.  Eager to show their drivers were up to this challenge, The American Trucking Associations teamed with The Federal Civil Defense Administration to create Rehearsal for Disaster in 1957.  Set in a roadside diner, long-haul drivers Joe and Slim discuss their transportation responsibilities during civil defense emergencies.

The Waking Point

This British film from 1951 stars character actor John Slater as the perpetually tired Joe Mercer, who doesn't see the value of civil defense in the wake of World War II.  When his son is trapped in a sand pit, he quickly changes his view and joins a local rescue squad where he envisions a terrible future if more of his countrymen don't enlist in a civil defense program.  Creative storytelling netted The Waking Point the Best Civil Defense Film award at the 1952 Cleveland Film Festival.


Mission Fallout

For the most part, volunteer radiological monitors practiced during civil defense drills, using hypothetical attacks and imaginary fallout readings.  In 1957, however, a group of specialists working for the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization were given the opportunity to train under realistic fallout conditions during Operation Plumbob.  Mission Fallout follows this select crew as they demonstrate radiological detection equipment, including an in-depth look at plans for aerial monitoring.


Eager to highlight their contribution to the nation's civil defense effort, the Ex-Cell-O Corporation, producer of paper milk cartons, teamed with the Federal Civil Defense Administration to produce Crisis in 1956.  Hosted by broadcaster Bob Considine, the film tells the story of how the dairy industry delivered pure drinking water to in the wake of Hurricane Diane.  Considine continually reminds the audience of a need for clean water during both natural disasters and atomic attack.
Time of Disaster

In addition to urging preparation for a possible enemy attack, The Federal Civil Defense Administration and its successors also warned of the devastation which may from natural disasters.  Time of Disaster, released in late 1954, shows how the forces of nature can buildings and utilities to rubble.  By focusing on a small town with a solid civil defense plan, however, the film demonstrates what steps need to be taken to keep a population safe during many types of emergencies, natural or otherwise.

Shelter on a Quiet Street

Despite the United States' creation of a nationwide system of public fallout shelters in 1961, the federal government continued to encourage the construction of private shelters in the home.  Shelter on a Quiet Street follows Hank Adams, local civil defense director, as he discusses the noticeable lack of public shelters in suburban areas.  Offering a remedy for this problem, Adams helps the family of David and Betsy Warren transform their basement into a fully stocked shelter.

Emergency Hospital

Civil defense planners knew an enemy attack involving nuclear weapons would place great strain on the United States' medical infrastructure.  To help ensure continuity of medical services, the federal government began a program stockpiling pre-packaged disaster hospitals outside large cities in 1956.  The specifics of this program are examined in the 1959 "filmograph" Emergency Hospital, made by Creative Arts Studio for the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization.


The Burroughs Corporation, a producer of adding and data storage machines, created Bombproof in 1956 after consulting with the Federal Civil Defense Administration.  By telling the story of the fictional Donovan Manufacturing Company, the film offers business continuity advice for the aftermath of an enemy H-Bomb attack.  Walter Abel stars as J.B. Donovan, who wisely used microfilm processing (a service provided by the Burroughs Corp.) to preserve vital company records.

Let's Face It

The Soviet Union's speedy acquisition of the hydrogen bomb came as a shock to many.  Seeking to address the new threat, the Federal Civil Defense Administration released Let's Face it in 1955, which bluntly explains the increased danger now posed to American cities.  The film further explains, however, that a robust civil defense program augmented with ample citizen participation, which is prominently highlighted throughout the film, can counter this danger.

Operation Doorstep

Over the course of three months in 1953, the United States detonated 11 atomic bombs in the Nevada desert.  Members of the press viewed the first detonation in order to report on Operation Doorstep, a Federal Civil Defense Administration exercise testing the effect of a nuclear explosion on the standard American domestic scene, including homes, vehicles, and weighted mannequins.  Footage captured during Operation Doorstep was quickly edited into a short film of the same name.


Seconds for Survival

Bell Telephone, interested in presenting its contributions to America's civil and national defense networks, produced Seconds for Survival in 1959 to highlight its advances in radar systems and guided missiles.  Focusing on the Nike Zeus, a large anti-ballistic missile designed to destroy Soviet ICBMs which was still in the developmental stages at the film's creation, Seconds for Survival offers hypothetical demonstrations of its capabilities. 

Civil Defense in Schools

Based off a pamphlet of the same name, this 1958 film from the Federal Civil Defense Administration examines how educators can organize emergency plans in case of an enemy attack.  In addition to discussing the bureaucratic procedures needed, Civil Defense in Schools presents numerous examples of improvised fallout shelters.  Also presented are fascinating shots of civil defense equipment in action, including light warning boxes, telephone operated sirens, and radiological detectors.


With few exceptions, films used in American civil defense programs were products of American studios financed by the American government.  Trapped, released in the United States in 1954, is unique in that it was created by the Swedish Civil Defense Office to train rescue squads.  Originally titled "Raddning av instanga under bombade hus", the film follows a volunteer excavation crew as they struggle to free residents of a collapsed apartment building in the aftermath of an enemy bomb. 

The Protected School

When education officials in Laredo added fallout shelter space and other protective features into the newly constructed United High School, the Office of Civil Defense promoted this practice by featuring the district in the 1965 film Texas Has a Brand New School.  Later that same year, officials released a condensed version of the film titled The Protected School.  As a series of still images strung together by narration, The Protected School highlights the multipurpose benefits of fallout shelters.

Cummings City

During the summer of 1958, two government agencies merged into the hybrid Office of Defense and Civilian Mobilization which was renamed less than two months later.  Despite its brief lifespan, The ODCM managed to produce at least one film, Cummings City, which examines military assistance in the wake of natural and nuclear disasters.  Set in a coastal city during a hurricane, the film makes clear that any military presence would be a temporary supplement to local civil defense.
Emergency Action to Save Lives

In early 1951, the newly formed Federal Civil Defense Administration announced the creation of nine films concerning various aspects of emergency preparedness.  Each film was to be based off widely distributed pamphlets which had been in circulation for the previous year.  Emergency Action to Save Lives, which explains very basic first-aid techniques needed in the aftermath of an atomic attack, was produced as part of this public information initiative.


Frontlines of Freedom

Hypothetical projections of a nuclear attack against the United States often began with a flight of Soviet bombers sweeping across Canada towards their intended targets.  Recognizing the mutual threat this scenario posed to each country, civil defense officials in Canada and the United States came together to produce Frontlines of Freedom in 1955.  The film was made to serve primarily as a propaganda piece, extolling the virtues of democracy and other Western freedoms.


Modern Minute Men

What would happen if A-Bombs fell on Ohio?  This question is explored by Modern Minute Men, created by the Bell Telephone Company in 1952 for the Buckeye State.  Harkening back to the days of the American Revolution, the film likens civil defense volunteers to the original minute men, who could assemble for battle at a moment's notice.  Through the use of home movies, a warden explains why Columbus and Cincinnati are no longer safe from the threat of an enemy attack.

Hospitals for Disaster

Beginning in 1956, the federal government stockpiled emergency disaster hospitals across the United States.  Nearly a decade later, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare filmed the set-up and simulated use of one such hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.  In addition to highlighting the sophisticated components of each portable medical center, Hospitals for Disaster features volunteers in gory makeup who seek to add a sense of realism to an otherwise optimistic production.

Atomic Attack

Often, the federal government would promote films and other productions which highlighted civil defense, even if it did not have a hand in their creation.  Such was the case with Atomic Attack, a dramatic fiction adapted into an episode of the Motorola Television Hour in 1954.  Phyllis Thaxter stars as Gladys Mitchell, a suburban housewife caught home alone when New York City is destroyed by a H-Bomb.  In spite of her initial panic, Mrs. Mitchell is able to regain her composure and follow CONELRAD radio instructions.

Operations in Public Shelters

In the event of a nuclear exchange, civil defense relied upon thoroughly trained individuals assuming leadership within public fallout shelters.  But what if an appointed shelter manager perished in the initial attack?  Operations in Public Shelters explores this scenario by examining Public Shelter 126, where a deputy struggles to control both panic and confusion.  Utilizing a frantic pace, this 1963 film explains how order is restored through strict adherence to bureaucratic procedures. 

Nerve Gas Casualties and Their Treatment

In early 1951, the Federal Civil Defense Administration announced the production to nine films designed to address threats facing the American public.  While most of the released titles deal with the dangers posed by the atomic bomb, Nerve Gas Casualties and Their Treatment examines the symptoms of "war" gasses, particularly when left untreated.  Incorporating clips from army training films, this 1957 production also features an introduction by F.C.D.A. health director Dr. John Whitney.

Individual and Family Reactions on Warning

Meant to be both entertaining and informative, Individual and Family Reactions on Warning was created by the Office of Civil Defense in 1964 to guide formation of a family fallout shelter plan.  Fred, a concerned husband and father, strategically questions each member of his family on appropriate actions during an emergency.  A consensus is quickly reached that calls for a quick journey to the nearest marked public shelter when the sirens sound.


The Invisible Enemy

1958 saw the formation of The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, an agency devoted to spreading the message of fallout protection.  To achieve this task, government planners appropriated a number of existing films, such as The Invisible Enemy, which had been created for specific regions.   Made in Michigan to highlight radiation dangers facing that state, the film features the emergency preparations of Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, explained through a lecture by a research scientist.

U.S. Civil Defense in Action

Released in early 1953, this film was designed to champion the progress America was making in civil defense preparations.  Although the various films and radio programs created by the Federal Civil Defense Administration are highlighted in detail, a challenge is also presented to the population, who are accused of being apathetic towards the atomic threat.  Coming in the midst of the Alert America campaign, the film encourages volunteers to step forward and offer their skills to fulfill a civic duty.
Day Without End

After the creation of the National Fallout Shelter Program in late 1961, the role of the local civil defense director expanded as cities and states, once left to devise their own pre-attack preparedness, now received guidance, funding and supplies from the federal government.  Day Without End shadows Bill Logan, civil defense director, as he coordinates his town's emergency planning. Facing bureaucrats, reluctant property owners, and lack of participation, his challenges are many and his hours are long.

One Plane, One Bomb

Famed broadcaster Edward R. Murrow lent his hand to civil defense when creating One Plane, One Bomb in 1953.  Shot in the style of his See it Now program, Murrow and his CBS crew document an experiment testing whether a flight of U.S. bomber planes, posing as Soviets, can fly across American soil and remain undetected until reaching New York City.  Relying primarily on the trained volunteers of the Ground Observer Corps, the film paints a grim picture of America's state of preparedness.

Nuclear Detonations: The First 60 Seconds

Throughout the 1960's, the Office of Civil Defense produced a number of short, focused films each with the purpose of teaching about a specific aspect of the nuclear threat.  Filmed in a classroom setting, Nuclear Detonations: The First Sixty Seconds does not stray from what's promised in the title.  A teacher/narrator explains to his class about the immediate effects and dangers of blast, shock, heat, and initial radiation. 

Planning for Public Shelter Entry

The implementation of the National Fallout Shelter Survey in 1961 created the need to train thousands of volunteers to staff the public refuges.  This film from 1963 was designed to examine the initial moments of shelter entry, when frightened patrons would need to be efficiently settled inside.  Following civil defense officials, Planning for Public Shelter Entry stresses good communication, a secure environment, and prompt first aid for those in need immediately following an attack.


A New Look At the H Bomb

The growing fear of an enemy attack was fanned in 1952 with the development of the hydrogen bomb, a move quickly matched by the Soviets the following year.  Rising to address the situation, F.C.D.A. director Val Peterson lectures viewers on the increased destructive power of the new weapons, focusing primarily on fallout dangers.  Set entirely within Peterson's office, A New Look at the H Bomb uses detailed photographs to show the nature of radiation and the best defenses to it.
The Family Fallout Shelter

When the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization distributed a pamphlet entitled The Family Fallout Shelter in 1959, it formally asked the American public to create a private shelter system within their homes.  The following year, this film with the same title was produced, illustrating the do-it-yourself shelter designs showcased in the pamphlet.  Featuring the Brown family, The Family Fallout Shelter traces their elaborate shelter from the planning stages to the final stocking of supplies.

Fallout: When and How to Protect Yourself Against It

1958 saw the creation of a new national civil defense agency which initiated greater awareness of fallout radiation.  As part of this public information endeavor, an animated film was contracted in 1959 to provide an overview of the threat fallout particles posed.  The resulting production, Fallout: When and How to Protect Yourself Against It, features a cartoon businessman, who demonstrates how to protect himself, his family, and his property from the deadly residue.


Disaster on Mainstreet

The Federal Civil Defense Administration was established in 1950 with two goals, first to raise awareness of the atomic bomb's potential for destruction, and second to conventionalize this power.  Disaster on Main Street sought to accomplish both of these goals by connecting images of rubble and refugees from World War II with a stern warning that the same fate could befall American cities who remain complacent on civil defense.  Narrated by famed journalist Edward R. Murrow.


Living With The Atom

Religion often found its way into many policies or practices concerning the atomic threat.  In 1957, The Moody Institute of Science incorporated the principles of Intelligent Design into both atomic energy and the vast moral dilemma the wielding of such power held.  Living With the Atom unfolds as both a science lesson, complete with visual aides, and a moral lecture urging consultation with a higher power before dictating policies involving "the building blocks of The Creator."

Briefly, About Fallout

When it was created in 1963, About Fallout became one of the most widely distributed films on the topic of civil defense.  Four years later, the Office of Civil Defense cashed in on the same subject matter once again by carefully editing their hit into a condensed version which was eventually entitled Briefly, About Fallout.  Though it is the same film, the advice considerably trimmed, resembling more an advertisement for the National Fallout Shelter Program than an instructional device.
Infant and Child Care

The likelihood of infants and children being present in a fallout shelter following a nuclear attack was high.  Recognizing the problems these tiny occupants would no doubt face, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare created Infant and Child Care as an abbreviated guide for parents caught in emergency situations.  While focusing almost entirely on the sanitation and feeding of infants, the film also provides insight as to how teenagers should behave while confined to a shelter.


Although most commonly associated with an atomic threat, civil defense also sought to protect against the furies of nature.  A prime example of non-nuclear defense can be found in the 1956 film public service film Tornado, which depicts the destruction of the fictional Elmville, Oklahoma.  Featuring a host of developing meteorological technology, parallels can easily be drawn between Tornado's content, and that of films which demonstrate the devastation likely to occur following an enemy attack.


Emergency Operating Centers: RaDef Operations

Created in 1967 as part of a monitoring series, this film picks up moments after an enemy attack has hit the fictional Central City.  Descending into civil defense headquarters, Emergency Operating Centers: RaDef Operations follows a number of volunteers as they plot fallout patterns headed towards the town.  Covering in detail the jobs of each staff member, the film uses a number of relatable characters who also address problems of communication and a lack of accurate information.

To Live Tomorrow

Produced in part by the Institute of Life Insurance, To Live Tomorrow begins with a speech by President Eisenhower calling for a solid civil defense program.  Utilizing this call to preparedness, an insurance executive examines how humans react to sudden change, from minor disturbances to life-threatening disaster, all while on his train commute home.  The insurance executive's conclusion is grim, too many Americans would panic in a disaster without proper leadership and training.


Your Chance to Live: Nuclear Disaster

The 1970's proved to be waning years for American civil defense and during this time of diminishing public awareness, an experimental film was produced to challenge such attitudes.  Created by the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency as part of the Your Chance to Live series, Nuclear Disaster highlights the process of creating a civil defense film.  A director and his camera crew interview potential actors, sync sirens sounds to images, and discuss intonations with narrator Peter Thomas.

New Family in Town

In this 1956 production, the Federal Civil Defense Administration draw upon the wartime Blitz experience of the English population in a unique way.  The film relates the stir caused by the arrival of the Trombleys, an English family, into a working class American town.  In addition to bringing with them a host of foreign customs, the Trombleys also possess a keen interest in civil defense, a trait displayed to the rest of the town through the construction of a state of the art air raid shelter.

In Time of Emergency

The late 1960's saw a decline in civil defense, both budgetary and in a general apathy on behalf of the American public.  As an attempt to reinvigorate a stagnating image across the country, the In Time of Emergency pamphlet campaign developed in March of 1968 and this film of the same name followed a year later.  While the idea of campaign was to liken preparation for an enemy attack to natural disaster, the film focuses almost exclusively on fallout protection.


The House in the Middle

To spreading public awareness of civil defense, the Federal Civil Defense Administration often invited various companies and trade organizations to test their products in the presence of an atomic blast.  This experimental marketing gave the National Paint, Varnish, and Lacquer Association promising footage concerning the protective capabilities of finishing materials.  The resulting film, The House in the Middle, recommends a tidy yard and a fresh coat of white paint to keep homes safe.

Emergency Operations Centers: The Basic Concepts

As an introductory film to a radiological monitoring series, Emergency Operations Centers provides a number of humorous situations alongside tedious suggestions for management protocols.  The film takes place in the fictional Central City and features an unlikely duo consisting of up-and-coming celebrity Conrad Bain and wiseguy comedian Arnold Stang who create an ideal emergency headquarters for the local government. 

The Price of Liberty

The creation of the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1950, and the inception of the Alert America program the following, created a boost in civil defense awareness which ultimately resonated in a call for volunteers.  One manifestation of this call appeared in The Price of Liberty, a presentation from WNYC tailored specifically for New York audiences.  Adopting the motto later utilized for Alert America, the film sternly warns that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty".


Fire Fighting for Householders

As one of the nine original commissions by the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1951, this production holds a unique place in the first film campaign on nuclear civil defense.  Step by step procedures for fighting different fires are presented while encouraging the clean up flammable debris.  Utilitarian in script and drama, Fire Fighting for Householders gives the viewer just enough taste of their expected responsibilities as to encourage further reading on the subject.  

The Safest Place

Increased awareness of the threat fallout posed to rural populations led the United States Department of Agriculture to produce a number of films in the late 1950's and early 1960's to educate Americans on the problem. Evenly paced and to the point, The Safest Place praises the "built in" preparedness of rural life as much as it informs on fallout protection.  Stressing the utilization of existing space, County Agent Bob Martin helps dairy farmer Hugh Wilson ready his family and livestock for an attack. 

Planning for Emergence From Public Shelters

The concluding film in a 1967 series concerning radiological monitoring, this production injects doses of humor and drama into what had fast become a painstakingly detailed project.  A gruff shelter manager and his heat-oppressed staff bring in more medicine and sardines to supplement their dwindling supplies while avoiding radioactivity.  Short and triumphant, Planning for Emergence from Public Shelters exudes optimism while still trying to present the blunt reality of war.  

Introduction to a Radiological Defense Exercise

The first in a line of films designed to show county level civil defense officials how to set up an effective radiological monitoring program, this short begins with a personal story.  Follow Dan Carter, an average citizen already learned in physics, as he becomes educated in the science of fallout.  A fun beginning to a tedious series, Introduction to a Radiological Defense Exercise weaves human poignancy with the cold facts of nuclear war, and all in six minutes!  

-And A Voice Shall Be Heard

By late 1950, General Electric, apparently unsatisfied with having their brand in every American household, moved into the world of civil defense.  The result was a film subtly functioning as an elongated G.E. advertisement, using a nuclear disaster to showcase electronics.  -And A Voice Shall be Heard is not so crass as to prophesize disaster for towns which don't use G.E. communication equipment, but shamelessly promotes the advantages of having them in time of emergency. 

Pattern for Survival

Prior to 1951, most civil defense films made for viewing by the general public were privately produced.  Pattern for Survival, released in late 1950 by Factual Films, Inc., consulted with the National Securities & Resources Board, then in charge of American civil defense preparations to place more authority behind the film's survival advice.  Famed journalists Chet Huntley and William Lawrence host.

Fallout And Agriculture

Emphasis on the lingering threat of fallout radiation in the late 1950's meant an increase of civil defense material aimed toward rural populations.  The need for fallout shelter for people and cattle and for soil decontamination became the pamphlets and films.  A 1960 production of the U.S.D.A, Fallout and Agriculture addresses the farmer through vibrant animation on shelter, soil absorption rates relating to radioactive rays and cleansing of exposed crops.

Walt Builds A Family Fallout Shelter

The concept of "do it yourself" took an interesting turn in 1959 when the Eisenhower Administration asked the public to construct home shelters.  Supplementing a similarly titled pamphlet, Walt Builds a Family Fallout Shelter showed America how to do just that.  Television workshop host and master carpenter Walter Durbahn turns an unused basement space into an economically feasible, multi-purposed, self-sufficient fallout shelter.

Protection Factor 100

With the implementation of the National Fallout Shelter Program in 1961, teams of architects and engineers set out across the United States to catalog existing buildings which could be utilized a public shelters.  This process is detailed in the 1962 film Protection Factor 100 which focuses on the use of computers to record all of a building's data to determine its usefulness as a shelter.  Newly installed Office of Civil Defense Director Steuart Pittman provides an introduction.

The Day Called X

Originally aired as a prime time special on CBS in 1957, this made for television drama depicts a hypothetical atomic attack on Portland, Oregon.  Prolific actor Glenn Ford provides narration to highlight the city's plan of evacuation with footage taken from Operation Greenlight, a 1955 civil defense drill conducted by Portland residents.  The show's popularity led to its nationwide distribution by the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization.
Alert Today Alive Tomorrow

Narrated by radio personality Andre Barruch, this production spotlights the civil defense preparations being undertaken by the city of Reading, Pennsylvania.  Stressing the need to help others and come together as a community during an atomic crisis, the film offers superb shots of rescue teams in action, as well as the creative ways in which Berks County is preparing to warn the public and carry on effective communication after the bomb falls.


Atomic Alert

Sometimes marketed with the subtitle "School, Home, Street", Atomic Alert was an early attempt by Encyclopaedia Brittanica Films to introduce children to the dangers of the atomic bomb.  Released in May of 1951, the film uses a blend of animation and live action to teach children what to do if an attack happens with no adults present.  The ideas of seeking shelter, avoiding blast and heat, and trusting adults and older kids are repeated numerous times for the benefit of young viewers.

What You Should Know About Biological Warfare

This film looks at the effects of a biological, not nuclear, attack on the United States.  Based on a pamphlet of the same name, What You Should Know About Biological Warfare outlines the different methods by which a biological attack can occur and what the medical community is doing to halt the results if one occurs.  Urging obedience to health authorities, the film promotes the pamphlet for further information on the subject.


Our Cities Must Fight

One of the original nine films produced by the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1951 to explain the threat posed by atomic weapons, Our Cities Must Fight preaches a scathing message against evacuation of large cities.  The unique structure of the film, best described as a dramatic dialogue between two men, uses stock footage of traffic jams, refugees, and civil defense drills to make an argument against leaving American cities when the fear of an enemy attack is high.