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How Americans of the 1960s Really Felt About Nuclear Fallout Shelters

From the literature we see on the internet from the Cold War era, you'd think that everyone had a backyard fallout shelter ready to go in case the Soviets attacked. The truth is that, in 1962, only 1.4% of Americans actually did. As a child of that era, I recall assuming that nuclear armageddon could come at any time, and there was nothing we could do about it. What did the general population of adults of the time think about the nuclear threat? Michigan State University surveyed 3,514 adults in the early '60s about their feelings regarding preparedness for a nuclear war. Check out some of the results.

Is it cowardly to build a nuclear fallout shelter?

There’s nothing quite like the collision of midcentury toxic masculinity and the threat of total destruction from nuclear war. But the results of the survey may surprise you. Just 7 percent of Americans thought that building a shelter was cowardly.

Building a shelter is like hiding in a hole—only a coward would do it. (7 percent agreed, 90 percent disagreed)

Parents have a duty to protect their children by building a fallout shelter (52 percent agreed, 37 percent disagreed)

It would take a little while after an attack, but law and order would be restored. (79 percent agreed, 14 percent disagreed)   

Read more findings from the study at Paleofuture. There are also plenty of people in the comments sharing their memories of growing up during the Cold War.


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