The early Cold War (late 1940?s
through the early 1960?s) has both its critics and its proponents. Critics condemn the era as a period of conformity, fear and repression. Proponents view it as a time of economic prosperity, stable families, and religious devotion.
One of the difficulties historians face when studying American culture in the early Cold war era is determining what was the reality from what was the ideal. Many television shows, propaganda videos and magazine articles promoted a certain ideal American family in this period; however, in reality, American families as a whole never fully conformed to that ideal. For example, while the 1950?s is often portrayed as the era of the housewife, the number of working mothers was actually going up rapidly during the decade.
So while it can be difficult to sift between the reality and the ideal, the early Cold War era certainly had a particularly conception of what the ?good? or ?ideal? life in America would look like. And, of course, there were competing voices concerning this ideal.
For this discussion, you will be analyzing a collection of historical documents focusing on American culture in the early Cold War era.
As you examine the documents, you want to develop an historical argument based on the documents. As you did on the first analysis in week 1, be sure to ask questions about the documents. These questions will help lead to an historical thesis.?
Be sure to state your thesis strongly and specifically. Defend your answer with evidence from the documents.
No matter what you decide to argue, this dialogue is intended to teach, challenge and hone your historical investigative skills. For this reason, be sure to develop a strong thesis/argument. Support your argument with evidence. Think deeply and critically.
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