The History of the Fallout Shelter Sign

In American culture, the standardized fallout shelter sign is an icon of Cold War life. Bill Geerhart of Conelrad, a website specializing in the social history of the Cold War, wrote an article that can be called the definitive history of the sign. The project was headed up by an Army Corps of Engineers manager named Robert Blakely, who navigated the sign through the bowels of the US federal bureaucracy. The earliest version was created by a graphic arts company in Virginia:
Blair, Inc. frequently worked on government contracts and the ideas generated in Blakeley’s office were shared with their designers. Blakeley stated to CONELRAD that he provided the following basic guidelines to his people to convey to Blair, Inc.: “I gave them the fact that it had to be a simple reproducible image…and I did say ‘tell them that in the design they had to have a place for us to print directional arrows.’” Blair, Inc. was also instructed by Blakeley that the sign “had to be something that would get people’s attention and give them direction to the location.” To this end, Blakeley said that he asked a representative from the company what the best color combination was for this purpose. The response that came back as quoted by Blakeley was: “orange or yellow and black is the one that is most dominantly used in the graphics field.” He added “And I said ‘if that’s right, let’s do that and it was that simple.”

Link via Ace of Spades HQ | Conelrad

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