Family Fallout Shelter

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 7/1/2008

The family fallout shelter represents the public policy assumptions of the atomic age, namely, that with enough preparation, the American family and with it the nation's social and political fabric would survive a nuclear attack. This free-standing, double-hulled steel shelter was installed beneath the front yard of Mr. and Mrs. Murland E. Anderson of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The Andersons purchased their shelter from J. L. Haverstock, a Ft. Wayne realtor who began selling family fallout shelters as a sideline in early 1955 after reading a promotional Life magazine article.

The Andersons maintained the shelter from its installation in 1955 through the 1960s, a period spanning the development of the hydrogen bomb and the Cuban missile crisis. Insufficiently anchored against Ft. Wayne's high water table when first installed, the shelter popped to the surface of the Anderson front yard in time for the Cuban missile crisis and was quickly reinterred in a frenzy of shelter building activity in 1961. The donors purchased the property, including the shelter, from the Andersons in 1968.

Use this Investigation Sheet to guide students through describing the object and analyzing its meaning.