1950s

1950s Online Resources - History and Primary Documents

Fifties Overview

  • Fifties Boulevard — This site is a retrospective, nostalgic look at the 50's in all its forms, containing such curiosities as pornographic novel covers and vintage magazines. Fashion, cars, clip art, and news and magazine articles comprise this collection.
  • History Channel — The History Channel's take on the 50s includes a timeline that allows navigation of the decade by year. The details of each year are divided into "Daily Life," "Arts and Culture," "Politics and War," and "Science and Technology." Also contains brief discussions of McCarthyism, the Cold War, race relations, American idealism, and pop culture.
  • Rewind the Fifties, All The 50's all the Time — Another nostalgic look at the pop culture of the 50s, containing an assortment of information on music, movies, parties, cars, fashion, and clip art.
  • A Biography of America The Fifties - Web — From the Annenberg/CPB archives comes this historical biography of the 1950s. Of interest here are a world map, a "webography" of important 50s personalities (Ernie Pyle, Harry S. Truman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Elvis Presley, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ray Kroc, John Ciardi, Phillip Morrison, Curtis LeMay, Bill Levitt, and E.B. Sledge), a discussion of the atom bomb and its use in WWII, a listing of key events of the decade, and a transcript of an on-air discussion about the fifties.
  • The 1950s — From the University of California at Berkeley comes an annotated list of primary sources, documents, and movies in or about the 1950s. There are some audio files and relevant links throughout.
  • American History - 1950-1959 — The Kingwood College Library maintains this overview of the U.S. of the 1950s. Includes brief paragraphs on subjects such as sports, art, music, books, fashion, and education, as well as relevant links. Also provides some statistical information about the decade.

McCarthy Trials

  • Joseph McCarthy — McCarthy Trials Senator Joseph McCarthy: A Multimedia Celebration
  • Joseph McCarthy — A concise biography of Joseph McCarthy, the fabled politician involved in the 1950's "Red Scare." Contains quotes from interviews of family, friends, and enemies of McCarthy, and a few lines from the senator himself.
  • Joe McCarthy — Contains an excerpt from Richard H. Rovere's book Senator Joe McCarthy. Includes commmentary about the senator, justifications for his actions in the political climate of his time.
  • THE AGE OF McCARTHYISM by Ellen Schrecher — Schrecker's 1994 book, The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents,a is indexed here, with links to specific chapters; the book provides a comprehensive overview of the 1950s Cold War.

The Korean War

  • The Korean War Project — This page is a list of links compiled by the Korean War Project, an organization devoted to the veterans of the Korean War. It contains an exhaustive set of links detailing the history of the war, including everything from overviews, historical accounts, and memorials to thesis papers and photographs.
  • Korean-War.com — This site is compiled by Ed Evanhoe, who served in the Korean War. It contains separate chronologies of the air and ground wars in Korea, a list of books on the Korean War, and flags, insignia, and vital statistics of the military forces of the many involved nations.

The Cold War

  • Cold War Hot Links — A list of Cold War web resources posted by St. Martin's College. All of the major "players" in the Cold War have links here, as well as detailed descriptions, photos, and opinions of this paranoid era of U.S. history.
  • CNN - Cold War — CNN's take on the history of the Cold War. Includes audio and video clips, an interactive map of postwar Europe, interesting historical trivia, interviews, and important documents.
  • TOP SECRET — This site features .mpeg and Quicktime files of previously-censored government newsreels. Nixon and Khruschev's early 1960s conference and several failed missile launches are available for viewing.
  • The Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg — In the wake of the Red Scare, this couple was charged, tried, and executed for aiding Soviet spies. This site describes the details surrounding this controversial trial, with biographies, a timeline, transcripts from the trial, photographs, and even a diagram of the "spy ring."
  • Rosenberg Spy Case City College of New York Libraries sponsors this site providing information on U.S. government views of the Rosenberg spy case with links to relevant documents.
  • Communists Should Not Teach in American Colleges, 1949 — A reprint of a 1949 Educational Forum article by Raymond B. Allen, then president of the University of Washington in Seattle.
  • Anticommunism at Columbia — An article from the Columbia Spectator of April 8, 1953, examining "loyalty investigations" of students and graduates of Columbia University.

The Presidency

  • Eisenhower Center — This site contains information from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library of Abilene, Kansas, compiled by the University of Kansas. Details about the president's life, his administration, and his family history. Also contains links to other Eisenhower resources and several links to D-Day sites.

Science

  • Academy of Achievement—Jonas Salk A biographical page, with photographs, of this famous American scientist who developed the polio vaccine.

Art & Literature

  • John Clellon Holmes on the Beats — In this 1952 article from The New York Times Magazine, then-26-year-old Clellon Holmes defends a young generation that is confronting a changing world.
  • James Wechsler vs. Kerouac - The Age of Unthink — James Wechsler, author of Reflections of an Angry Middle-Aged Editor, recalls his frustrating encounters with Jack Kerouac at a lecture in 1958. This excerpt presents the clash between the impulsive, independent, and emotional mind of the Beat generation embodied in Kerouac and the skeptical, traditional mindset of Wechsler. It depicts Kerouac's enormous popularity at the time from the viewpoint of someone who did not agree with Kerouac's worldview.
  • The Beat Generation Archives — This site is contains numerous links to online resources about the Beats. Entire websites and short articles can be accessed. Lots of information on Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, and Cassady, including book reviews, quotations, and memorials.
  • Beat Art Homepage — Select galleries of four Beat artists, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem DeKooning, and Helen Frankenthaler. Includes links to other online resources about these abstract expressionists.

Additional Primary Sources

  • Prelinger Archive — A fascinating collection of over 45,000 digitized ephemeral films in education, advertising, and industry.
  • Readings from the 1950s — Posted by the University of Pennsylvania, this site is an extensive index of 1950s literary sources. From short stories to essays about nuclear war to book reviews, there is enough 50s materials in here to keep the curious researcher busy for a long while. Includes links to other 50s pages and a glossary of terms.
  • Berkeley Free Speech Movement, 1963-64 — An excerpt from David Burner's 1996 book, Making Peace with the Sixties. He discusses 50s trends leading up to the Free Speech Movement in the early 60s at the University of California in Berkeley.
  • Homosexuals in Government, 1950 — This page includes a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives in 1950, from Congressman Miller of Nebraska discussing the role of homosexuals in government.
  • William Whyte's The Organization Man-i, chap. 1
  • William Whyte's The Organization Man-i, chap. 8 — Two excerpts from the 1956 book that examines the ideology of "the Organization," criticizing the growth of corporate America and the "bureaucratization of society" across the world.
  • PUBLIC ROADS On-Line — This government website examines the 1956 origins of the superhighway with descriptions of legislation and photographs.
  • Fifties Bibliography, 1948-1963 — This site is an annotated bibliography of books set in or about the fifties. Novels, histories, and a travel guide are listed and described, with a five-star rating system.
  • The Inflation Calculator
  • Women's Education Archives - The Five Colleges Archives of five New England colleges documenting American higher education through 1950.
  • The Authentic History Center - Collection of primary sources materials in popular culture of the decade, including images and audio.

Popular Culture Resources - 1950s

Advertising

Ad Flip An enormous database of advertisements dating back to 1940.
Ad Access This site sponsored by Duke University contains over 7000 advertisements originally published from 1911 through 1955.
Medicine and Madison Avenue Duke University site examining the connection between advertising and medicine in advertising. Site includes a large database of health-related ads.

Art & Architecture

Rebels -Painters and Poets of the 1950s
Levittown - Ideal American Suburb — A site developed by the art history department of the Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago describing the "ideal" suburb of post-World War II America, conceived by William Levitt. Contains an "informal" history of Levittown, floorplans of Levittown houses, aerial photos and maps of the suburb, and photographs from families that lived in the town.

Fashion

History of 1950s Fashion
50s Fashion — An index of links pertaining to 1950s fashion, from sweaters to Beat fashion.
Bissonnette on Costume: A Visual Dictionary of Fashion Kent State University Museum site created by Anne Bissonnette providing a large database of images documenting the history of fashion.

Films

1950s Film History and Academy Awards
Oscars Of the Fifties
Boomer's Fifties Teen Idol Magazine
Fifties Arts & Entertainment
MovieActors.com- Super Stars of the 1950's
Fifties Alien Invasions and Creature Features
Film History of the 1950s
The Hollywood Blacklist — This excerpt from 1992's Encyclopedia of the American Left traces the activities of several actors who were the victims of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), an organization that during 1947-1951 identified "Hollywood radicals."
Naming Names, Chap. 7 — This chapter from Victor Navasky's Naming Names (1980) looks at Elia Kazan's struggle with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC.)

Media and Print

Media History Timeline of the 1950s This University of Minnesota site offers a look at changes in media across the decade.

Music

Back to the Fifties Real Audio Jukebox. 125+ Favorite Tunes of the Fifties in Streaming Real Audio
Back to the Fifties (and Sixties) Featuring 50's and 60's Music in Streaming Real Audio - Main Menu
Online NewsHour ELVIS — August 15, 1997
All About Elvis

Television

Part 2 Fabulous Fifties- TV Talk Shows
Television History An extensive site documenting the history of television with images, advertising, and programming information from the T.V. Guide.

Sports

Baseball Highlights Library of Congress American Memory site focused on Jackie Robinson and other baseball highlights from1860-1960
Sporting News Archives - Jackie Robinson
N.Y. Yankees - A team-sponsored site providing history and timeline of important events inYankee baseball history.

1950s Bibliography

  • Barry, Gerald. Reflections from a Small Town. Rochester: One Big P, date n/a.
  • Bell, Daniel. The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties. Boston: Harvard UP, 2000.
  • Bosker, Gideon, Michelle Mancini, and John Grimstad. Fabulous Fabrics of the Fifties. San Francisco: Chronicle, 1992.
  • Daniel, Pete. Lost Revolutions: The South in the 1950s. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2000.
  • Dreishpoon, Douglas and Alan Trachtenberg. The Tumultuous Fifties: A View from the New York Times Photo Archives. New York: Buffalo Fine Arts, 2001.
  • Elwood, Robert S. The Fifties Spiritual Marketplace: American Religion in a Decade of Conflict. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1997.
  • Foreman, Joel. The Other Fifties: Interrogating Midcentury American Icons. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1997.
  • Ginsberg, Allen. Journals Mid-Fifties. Ed. by Gordon Ball. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
  • Halberstam, David. The Fifties. New York: Villard Books, 1993.
  • Hulbert, Kathleen Day, and Diane Tickton Schuster. Women’s Lives Throughout Time: Educated American Women of the Twentieth Century. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.
  • Kallen, Stuart A. The 1950s. San Diego: Lucent, 1998.
  • Laskin, David. Partisans. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.
  • Meyerowitz, Joanne J. Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1994.
  • Opie, Robert. 1950s Scrapbook. London: New Cavendish, 1998.
  • Peacock, John. The 1950s [Fashion Sourcebook]. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
  • Socialist Parties and the Question of Europe in the 1950s. Ed by R. T. Griffiths. Boston: Brill Academic P, 1992.
  • Weiss, Jessica. To Have and to Hold: Marriage, the Baby Boom, and Social Change. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.

Literature of the 1950s - Selected Bibliography

JAMES AGEE
A Death in the Family (1957)

CONRAD AIKEN
The Short Stories of Conrad Aiken (1950)

EDWARD ALBEE
The Zoo Story (1959)

JOHN ASHBERY
Turandot and Other Poems (1953)

JAMES BALDWIN
Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)

JOHN BARTH
The Floating Opera (1956)
The End of the Road (1958)

SAUL BELLOW
The Adventures of Augie March (1953)
"Seize the Day" (1956)
Henderson the Rain King (1959)

KAY BOYLE
"Summer Evening" (1951)
"Army of Occupation" (1951)

RAY BRADBURY
The Martian Chronicles (1950)
"The Other Foot" (1950)
"The Man" (1950)
"Night Call, Collect" (1950)
"August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains" (1951)
Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953)

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS
The Naked Lunch (1959)

TRUMAN CAPOTE
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958)

RACHEL CARSON
The Sea Around Us (1951)

JOHN CHEEVER
"The Enormous Radio" (1953)
The Wapshot Chronicle (1957)
"The Country Husband" (1958)
The Housebreaker of Shady Hill (1958)

E.E. CUMMINGS
I: Six Nonlectures (1953)

ALLEN DRURY
Advise and Consent (1959)

T.S. ELIOT
The Cocktail Party (1950)

RALPH ELLISON
Invisible Man (1952)
"Did you Ever Dream Lucky?" (1954)
"A Coupla Scalped Indians" (1956)

JAMES T. FARRELL
A Dangerous Woman and Other Stories (1957)

WILLIAM FAULKNER
Collected Stories (1950)

EDNA FERBER
Giant (1952)

ALLEN GINSBERG
Howl and Other Poems (1956)
"To Aunt Rose" (1958)

LORRAINE HANSBERRY
A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

MOSS HART
Act One (1959)

ERNEST HEMINGWAY
Across the River and Into the Trees (1950)
The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

LANGSTON HUGHES
Simple Speaks His Mind (1950)
Laughing to Keep from Crying (1952)
"Thank You, Ma'am" (1958)

JAMES JONES
From Here to Eternity (1951)

GEORGE S. KAUFMAN
The Solid Gold Cadillac [with Howard Teichmann] (1953)

JACK KEROUAC
On the Road (1957)

DENISE LEVERTOV
"Beyond the End" (1953)
Here and Now (1957)
"Pure Product" (1958)

ROBERT LOWELL
The Mills of the Kavanaughs (1951)
"Memories of West Street and Lepke" (1958)
"Skunk Hour" (1958)
Life Studies (1959)

ROSS MACDONALD
The Galton Case (1959)

BERNARD MALAMUD
The Natural (1952)
The Assistant (1957)
"The Jewbird" (1958)
"The Magic Barrel" (1958)

MARY MCCARTHY
Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (1957)

CARSON MCCULLERS
The Member of the Wedding (1950)
"A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud" (1951)
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951)

ARTHUR MILLER
The Crucible (1953)
A Memory of Two Mondays (1955)
A View from the Bridge (1955)

VASSAR MILLER
"Adam's Footprint" (1956)

VLADIMIR NABOKOV
Lolita (1955)

OGDEN NASH
Parents Keep Out (1951)

FLANNERY O'CONNOR
Wise Blood (1952)
A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955)
"Good Cou ntry People" (1955)

EUGENE O'NEILL
Long Day's Journey into Night (1956)

S.J. PERELMAN
The Ill-Tempered Clavichord (1953)

AYN RAND
Atlas Shrugged (1957)

ADRIENNE RICH
A Change of World (1951)
The Diamond Cutters (1955)

THEODORE ROETHKE
Praise to the End! (1951)
The Waking: Poems 1933-1953 (1953)
"I Knew A Woman" (1954)

PHILIP ROTH
"The Conversion of the Jews" (1959)
"Goodbye, Columbus" (1959)

J.D. SALINGER
The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
Nine Stories (1953)
"A Perfect Day for Bananafish" (1953)

ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER
The Family Moskat (1950)
Satan in Goray (1955)
"Gimpel the Fool" (1957)

JEAN STAFFORD
"The Interior Castle" (1953)

JOHN STEINBECK
East of Eden (1952)

JAMES THURBER
Further Fables for our Time (1956)

JOHN UPDIKE
The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures (1958)

KURT VONNEGUT, JR.
Player Piano (1952)

SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER
"Uncle Blair" (1955)

ROBERT PENN WARREN
Promises: Poems 1954-1956 (1957)

EUDORA WELTY
The Ponder Heart (1954)
The Bride of the Innisfallen (1955)

E.B. WHITE
Charlotte's Web (1952)

RICHARD WILBUR
Poems 1943-1956 (1957)

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS
The Rose Tatoo (1951)
Camino Real (1953)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955)

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
Patterson, Book Four (1951)
The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams (1951)

RICHARD WRIGHT
The Outsider (1953)
"Big Black Good Man" (1957)

HERMAN WOUK
The Caine Mutiny (1951)

Statistical Information

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