Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Elizabeth Fraterrigo

Number of Pages



This thesis, by examining how business, government, and civic leaders promoted civil defense, shows how a policy of self-help merged the roles of citizen and consumer and how family-centered preparedness equated the survival of the nuclear family with the victory of the US in the Cold War. Civil defense officials helped reinforce messages about gender roles by stressing the value of nuclear families and the crucial role each family member played in the defense of America. Public information campaigns emphasized the importance of free enterprise and privatization by endorsing a policy of self-help for American families whereby individual families were responsible for the purchase of their own means of survival. This thesis will help us better understand the early years of the Cold War by showing how consumption became entwined with civic duty through the efforts of civil defense officials. These efforts created an image of civil defense that centered on a model citizen in the marketplace purchasing the products needed to guarantee his and his family's own survival.


Civil; Commerce; Defense; Politics; Preparedness; Selling

Controlled Subject

Civil defense; Nuclear families; Sex role; Cold War; United States; History

File Format


File Size

2723.84 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have the full text removed from Digital Scholarship@UNLV, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.


IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit