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Doom Town, Nevada Test Site, and the Popular Imagination of Atomic Disaster

Wills, John (2023) Doom Town, Nevada Test Site, and the Popular Imagination of Atomic Disaster. Journal of American Studies, . ISSN 0021-8758. E-ISSN 1469-5154. (doi:10.1017/S0021875823000105) (KAR id:99408)


This article explores the effect of Doom Town, a civil defense experiment conducted at Nevada Test Site in March 1953 and May 1955, on American attitudes toward the atom. Initially conceived by the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) as a means to progress knowledge and understanding of how to survive nuclear attack, the creation and destruction of two ‘Survival Towns’ in the Nevadan desert instead accelerated national anxieties. My article looks at how local and national media negatively framed the two experiments, and how the public responded, with two specific images of Doom Town undermining public confidence in the atom: the ruined city (or home-grown Hiroshima) and the projected death of the American nuclear family.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0021875823000105
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author(s) has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Subjects: E History America
F History United States, Canada, Latin America
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Funders: Leverhulme Trust (
Depositing User: John Wills
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2023 09:14 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 12:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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