New exhibition on the Cold War in American Culture

Looking Over Our Shoulder: The Cold War in American Culture is now on view in the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) exhibition space. A corresponding digital exhibit is also available online.

High School students practice “duck and cover” technique. Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, C0036, Box 54, Folder 118, Special Collections Research Center.

In Looking Over Our Shoulder, members of the SCRC team have selected examples from the Libraries’ special collections that illustrate aspects of American life during the Cold War from a variety of angles, through manuscripts, photographs, publications, material culture, and other items. From concerns about the spread of Communism, the threat of atomic warfare, and the Space Race to architecture, fashion, art, film, theatre, novels, and even home décor, the exhibit demonstrates the pervasiveness of the Cold War era on every aspect of American life.

With each exhibit curated by SCRC, Bob Vay (technology and exhibitions archivist) tries to link the history to the lived experience here at Mason. For Looking Over Our Shoulder, he curated a case focused on “The Cold War as A Source of Dissent at George Mason College/University” and highlighted some of the protests in the 1960s. In addition to his work in creating the corresponding digital exhibit, Vay will be sharing a series of blog posts about the current exhibition on the Special Collections Research Center blog. His introduction to the exhibit is available here, and his exploration of “The Ever Present Fear of Atomic Attack & Atomic Energy” is available here.

On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, SCRC will be partnering with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University (Mason OLLI) to host “The Iron Curtain,” a virtual event where Professor Samuel Clowes Huneke will moderate a panel of select OLLI members regarding the history of the Iron Curtain and their individual experiences. This event is made possible by an OLLI Mason Special Project Grant awarded to the Libraries. The discussion will be recorded and added to SCRC’s Oral History Program collection.

SCRC collections are available for use by students, faculty, researchers, and others for research or instructional use. In addition to the items featured in the current exhibit, SCRC holds other related collections to the Cold War as well as many other subject areas. For more information SCRC and their collecting areas, visit their collections site.