Wisconsin Historical Society

Online Exhibit

Living Under a Mushroom Cloud: Fear and Hope in the Atomic Age

Fear and Hope in the Atomic Age | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeA middle-aged man stepping into small metal crate shelter while holding up a hinged upper door. His wife and four kids are inside the shelter.

Family Bomb Shelter, 1952

A Wisconsin family inside their new bomb shelter. View the original source document: WHI 1941

This interpretive exhibit gives a glimpse into the contradictions of fear and hope American society experienced during the Atomic Age, 1945-1965. 

  • Learn how worries of nuclear warfare, atomic radiation and Communist invasion influenced popular film and literature.
  • Discover the federal government programs meant to protect families from nuclear attacks through fallout shelters, survival manuals and evacuation plans.
  • Explore America's belief that good could result from atomic energy in terms of scientific research, nuclear energy and medical innovations.
  • Read about nuclear disarmament, emerging national issues, the end of the Cold War era and the lure of the space race.

View the Online Exhibit

People Featured in This Exhibit
  • Dana Andrews
  • Paul Boyer
  • Paul Boyer
  • David Bradley
  • Dick Calkins
  • Roy Cohn
  • Matt Cvetic
  • Blake Edwards
  • Al Fago
  • Igor Gouzenko
  • Father Groppi
  • Leslie R. Groves
  • John Hersey
  • Verne P. Kaub
  • President John F. Kennedy
  • Nikita Khrushchev
  • James Kuntz
  • Frank Lovejoy
  • David Low
  • Douglas Malewicki
  • Alex Malloy
  • Frank Marasco
  • Virginia Martinson
  • Pat Masulli
  • Joseph McCarthy
  • Ray Milland 
  • Francis Miller
  • D.F. Moran
  • George Nelson
  • A. J. Riker
  • Mickey Rooney
  • Ethel Rosenberg
  • Julius Rosenberg
  • Peter Sellers
  • Paul Sobel
  • Edith Sobel
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Lewis L. Strauss
  • President Harry S. Truman
  • Sonny Tufts
  • John Wickland
  • John Wickland
  • John Willard