Duck and Cover: The 1950s Film That Taught Millions of Schoolchildren How to Survive a Nuclear Bomb

After the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb in August, 1949, American anxiety levels ran higher. The fear of nuclear war was in the air. And a young generation of Americans soon got its introduction to Duck and Cover, the little technique that would save lives if the U.S. ever endured a Hiroshima-style bombing. Or so it was believed.

In 1951, the US government, working with Archer Productions and students from Queens, NY, produced a short instructional film given the no-frills title Duck and Cover. Shown to millions of children nationwide over many years, the film became a centerpiece of the government’s emergency preparedness program. Since then, the film has been entered into the National Film Registry (2004) and has inspired various parodies, including this recent goof from the “Australian Board of Civil Defence.” Hope you get something from this nostalgia-inducing piece of film….

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Related Content:

63 Haunting Videos of U.S. Nuclear Tests Now Declassified and Put Online

Kurt Vonnegut Gives a Sermon on the Foolishness of Nuclear Arms: It’s Timely Again (Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1982)

Haunting Unedited Footage of the Bombing of Nagasaki (1945)

53 Years of Nuclear Testing in 14 Minutes: A Time Lapse Film by Japanese Artist Isao Hashimoto

How a Clean, Tidy Home Can Help You Survive the Atomic Bomb: A Cold War Film from 1954

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.