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tv   Cold War Anti- Communist Trading Cards  CSPAN  April 20, 2022 4:51pm-5:36pm EDT

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you know, doesn't get more pure than to talk about people and their lives and how it affects -- has affected and changed things. and thank you for digging them up. and thanks to all of you for being here tonight. on that note, i hope everyone has a wonderful evening and a good night. there are a lot of places to get political information, but only at c-span do you get it from the source. c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiassed, word for word, if it happens here, or here, or here, or anywhere that matters, america is watching on c-span, powered by cable.
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thank you all for inviting me to talk about the fight the menace children's crusade against communism trading cards. these are some of my favorite teaching tools at any level. and i really appreciate the support the institute and all of you. so thank you so much for having me. so i wanted to start with the box. because that's how the children would start. they would see the box of cards as they entered a typical store to buy trading cards. children are often regarded as perhaps the most important symbolic guarantee of a nation's future, according to historians, thus we do need to study them. and these cards indeed draw on reflect and even foreshadow aspects of early cold war culture and even later period events and rhetoric.
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i look at the images first, then the text. indeed, the importance of this -- what the experience of this combination can be seen in an interview with a collector and someone who remembers the cards in his youth. he wrote, if you showed that card at ghost city, card 23, figure 2, which was used to promote this talk -- if you show that card to a kid in the '50s they would probably say yeah, that's what i dream about at night, that's what i have nightmares about. so in 1951 the bowman company released a collectible card set sold with bubble gum entitled the children's crusade against communism, fight the red menace.
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so the question is, what are trading cards. for those of us who don't know, a consumer object to be sold with a small, inexpensive mass produced item primarily marketed to children ask. most of us know them as sports cards. in the post war period, after 1945, as historians have studied consumerism, which was linked as it is through much of american history with citizen -- where consumerism is tied with citizenship, and in the cold war particularly the rapidly growing realm of suburbia where homeowner ship and rising ownership of domestic alliances, cars, kitchens was a proverbial keeping up with the joneses. deciding what to by was a facet of american right and of american superiority over the communists. we see it again and again throughout cultural history and
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the cold war. the cards were sold as a popular children's commodity, which draws them into this form of citizenship. the fight the red menace cards feature full color images with even numbered cards depicting people and events linked to the united states. and odd numbers cards showing red or communist activities. each card is numbered and titled and carries a short paragraph of text relating to the image on the card. above the copyright information at the bottom of the card is written "fight the red menace"
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redding the sign of the soviets. and so fight the red menace was in navy blue because the united states, represented by blue, is fighting. and red menace in red. the red and white stars depicted on the box are repeated alongside the text. the first words on the first card are explained as follows. the red star of communism and the white star of democracy are a life ordeal struggle around the world. this is a heavy emphasis on korea because of the korean war which we will go into earlier that began in 1950. the themes include western military heros, communist leaders, common people, military
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hardware, the geography of the cold war, or how the cold car can become hot, atomic war, race, and the united nations. and it includes pictures and text as i have said. but unlike disney, as we will see, or cartoons like duck and cover that teach children how to survive nuclear attacks these cards were quite dark. and textual analysis becomes key to understanding the promise and threat of the cold war. and as historians, young historians, we can use tactics from material culture, art history, history, history of the cold war, childhood, the senses, propaganda in addition to all the topics that are mentioned on the cords themselves. the bowman company intimated that the cards were intended to be educational. quote, we decided that children would be interested in the anticommunist series and we think it is good for them. we try to tell the children the difference between our way of life and the communist way by putting out a series of 48 picture cards. they said. bowman's claim of having educational goals is supported by the fact that an earlier set
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of cards by bowman called the horrors of war with similar themes was created with the belief -- these were created with the belief that through the cards could be directed a favorable attitude, interestingly, towards peace. and i show here the fight the red menace gum wrapper. so we start out with cold war and containment. this is an early picture of truman, president truman with churchill, winston churchill and joseph stalin, the world leaders, the global leaders at this point. and looking vet happy at the ends of the war although we knew trouble was brewing certainly before the ends of the war. george kennon wrote the long telegram, a famous document
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studied and is worth studying many times over. and he wrote it from russia. and it is called long, the long telegram, because, indeed, it's very long for a telegram, spanning soviet culture and other issues. it became the basis for what was called the containment theory of dealing with the soviets. in other words, if you contained the soviet union, because of the nature of the people, indeed, the entire culture and political system would implode. it was known as the containment theory. however, if we read the document there is lots of information about culture, about peoples, and even about the threats to americans via women -- religious organizations, labor unions, all of which we see in these cards.
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so truman articulated who was called the truman doctrine. which is key -- which he announced, and was key -- announced that it was the duty of the united states to uphold global freedom and that communism must be contained. that national security depends on nuclear power, a strong military, and civilian preparedness to mobilize in defense of peace. and in this in 1950, he initiated the federal civil defense administration, which was charged with creating a national civil defense program ask. the first director spoke enthusiastically of a new home
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front for the cold war propelled by a growing consciousness of the need for civil defense. message of the early fcda propaganda proved simple. if americans embraced the concept of civil defense they could survive a nuclear war. while the u.s. military experimented with a variety of indoctrination projects to sculpt the perfect nuclear soldier. the fdca arrived at this for the civilians. the organization launched a range of leaflets, tours, short films, hoping to mold the civilian into a new theater of conflict. but it was operating within a constrained budget, as things often are in the united states. so in order to sell to civil defense to the u.s., the fcda used partnerships with corporations. ie, bowman. and increasingly turned to corporate alliances such as these.
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and it used a strategy of cooperative promotion in quotes. so in this, the director of the organization added that we are grateful for the wholehearted cooperation and support of the many private industries, associations and institutes. for example, the box let survival under atomic attack in 1951 concurrent with the launch of the bowman cards preached, you can survive, high loigting your chances of making a complete recovery from an atomic attack are much the same as for everyday accidents. another thing that was important about the long telegraph and this theory of containment was the idea of religious cold war. the soviet atheists were versus the religious and righteous americans. and indeed truman said in our quest for righteousness, we must put on the armor of god. and so there was a religious
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bent to this cold war and the containment theory. in 1947 we have the berlin air lift, and we have here 1947 milk becomes a new weapon of democracy. and here we see children overcoming very important in this cold war fight. and indeed the famous candy bomber. as the soviets cut off food and supplies to west berlin, a cold war hot spot, the united states along wits allies brought in food and supplies on airplanes. and one of the pilots decided to put parachutes on hershey candy bars. the children waited for the plane to come through to receive the candy bars. but of course, with russia
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having the atomic bomb so much changes and these programs of indoctrinization and the idea of atomic war becomes more and more prevalent and important. with the korean war, of course, this all comes to the fore because the cold war has become hot. going back to this idea of the cold war potentially becoming hot globally, but also feeding into the important theme of the religious cold war, we have the launching of a private initiative and private is in quotes, called the crusade for freedom.
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and it was known as a private organization, although it was heavily funded by the newly established central intelligence agency. and dwight d. eisenhower, who was then known as the famous general for world war ii and was not yet president, he launched a campaign to raise funds for radio programming, books and other projects to fight the big
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lie of soviet communism with the big truth brought by america in eastern europe under the banner, the crusade for freedom. although heavily subjectized by the central intelligence agent us is, it was billed as sponsored by private american citizens. and much like a religious crusade, the idea was this propaganda that's funded by the american people with men saying, sure, i want i want to fight communism, but how. and being encouraged to have meatless dinners in order to give their grocery money to the crusade for freedom. it was heavily subsidized by the government. here we have other advertisements bringing in the religious give us this day or
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daily truth. the crusade for freedom funded radio for europe and radio liberty. which blasted programming from news to jazz into soviet blocked countries and russia. and also the boy scouts got very much involved signing and others as well, signing freedom scrolls and the like which we can see on the page to the right. familiar figures wonder through the crusade for freedom advertisements, including another future president ronald reagan. if you go to youtube and this is included in some of the resources that i have supplied, it was heavily subsidized by the government.
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men saying, sure i want to fight communism, but how, and they had highlights this cooperation of the fdca between government and private corporations and private foundations, some of which were not so private. included in the promotional activities of the crusade for freedom was a wonderful tour of the liberty bell, which arrived in berlin, as we recall, the site of the berlin airlift, and hundreds of children donated pennies in order to send the
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liberty bell to their cohort across the sea, the children of germany and west berlin. the other thing that the crusade for freedom did is it launched balloons as we see here, and those balloons were filled with many things, and there were many ideas for what could go into those balloons, and leafets that carried messages, and food could be put into balloons and dropped, although 14 pounds of food may not be a good idea, and bibles were put into the balloons called bible balloons. many, many things were put into these balloons and launched to germany, and they would float with the weather pattern and distribute.
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these balloon campaigns were heavily supported by boy scouts and children and the population in america, and here we see examples of a freedom balloon and two different types of freedom balloons that would distribute these items in eastern europe, and this happens to be in colorado. so one of the most important things with the atomic explosions was this idea of fear and fear management. one historian writes, exposing citizens to the war would inoculate them, getting them accustomed to awful sights so they would not be scream when the nuclear bombs came, and too much emphasis on danger would
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drive them to panic while too little would fail to stir the apathetic. and without an american experience of a real atomic attack, planners needed to plant a vivid but not horrific snapshot of what one would look like in a nuclear attack. so operation q, which indeed came later, where private corporations worked with the government to create a town in las vegas, nevada, just outside the town. it included mannequins, household items, jcpenney items,
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food and the like, and then they blew up the town. they showed pictures. also these ideas were distributed to children, famously the duck and cover video which is in your list of resources, and the terple hums and sings about the coming of the bomb. children are taught to duck and cover under their desks, and
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adults are to duck and cover, and women are to seek male help in order to duck and cover. the other thing marketed towards children were cereals, comic books and the like, and this is an exhibit from the national museum of testing which you should go see if you are ever in las vegas. this is -- this is kind of a smattering of the many different items they have there, and this is, to me, very interesting, this kix cereal. you literally woke up in the morning to the bomb, and this is the box of cereal. indeed, the kix cereal came if you sent box tops and pennies, you could get a toy from the -- from eating enough of the kix cereal. when you received the atom -- the nuclear bomb ring, the picture is on the slide, in the mail, you could make it explode somehow. the company advertised you will
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see brilliant flashes of light, and these flashes are caused by the release of atoms, and it's perfectly safe, and we guarantee you could wear the atopic ring with complete safety, and the atomic materials inside the ring are harmless. again, this is making -- literally bringing the bomb into the home first thing for breakfast. there were also acomic fireball candies, and a sweet treat, and atomic toys. this is an energy lab and it came with four types of uranium, and also other tools for the enterprising young boy to play with nuclear energy. what about girls?
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this tended to be more and more of what girls were taught to do. obviously the kitchen, going to nixon to the famous kitchen debate, which is the talk of other talks. this is a girl using technology, she's on the phone. there was an idea that girls could be scientists and certainly nurses, but this was more likely what you find, what you were going to find as a promotional advertisement for a girl's toys. indeed this fits right in with
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the fcda, which promoted that a domestic threat was essentially one of many household hazards that suburban housewives could deal with, and famous for optimistic speeches, katherine howard, a woman worth studying who is often forgotten in history, she promoted the housewife as homemakers of the land and saviors of the nation, and keeping the house clean and tidy served as a way of burning it down in the event of nuclear
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explosion. this continued to go into technology. by 1962, the house of the future featured an atoms for kitchen living complete with a microwave and ultrasonic dishwasher, and if the woman took care of the woman, she could save the nation. here for both men -- both, young men and young women and also their parents, disney and the cold war, although later on disney made some promotional films about the atom. this is concurrent with the bowman trading cards. again, i have left the link to this cartoon in your resources. this is a cartoon called "cold war with goofy," and he's with his own home atomic bomb which
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is actually a potential solution for his cold. the trading cards, what are they? they are a group activity but they are also individualistic. they include the all-important sweet treat and embed the idea of religion with in god we trust, which becomes an american motto. the first thing the boys would do is go into the local candy shop, which i recall it looked something like this, and the game opening was you buy the cards and trade on your fortune, and you go in and buy your box of cards and you open them up and you get a range of cards. you don't get them all. you get a few. what the card company would do is print more of one and fewer of another, and the idea is you are supposed to collect all 48 and you only got a select number in your box with your piece gum. there was a chance, you started out you get what you get when you are born, and you can make
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your fortune -- you can collect all 48 if you trade well with your friends. then you would sit down with your friends who also bought the cards and you would start to trade. you would build on your community and take the crusader pledge, which was on the outside of the box, and you would say i believe in god and the god-given freedom of man. i believe in the united states of america and the united nations. i believe in government of the people by the people and for the people. i am against any system that enslaves man and makes them merely tools of the state. i pray they may be delivered from oppression. i pledge my faith, loyalty and
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devotion to the cause of freedom for all mankind. so in this pledge we see many themes from the cold war that were established and will play out. the united nations was very important in the korean war because in theory it was the united nations that waged war to fight -- to fight communism and support democracy, not the united states. and by the people and for the people, a familiar phrase. the idea of enslavement and a system that makes people tools of the state. this is obviously important because here you are trading as
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a free person, setting the mark deciding if 2 of 1 card is worth one of card 48, and you are free to make your deck, and i pray they may be delivered from oppression. in other words, it's not the people of the soviet union who are bad or evil, it's the leaders. again, this is the entire theme of containment. if you understand the russian people and you understand the culture, you'll understand this is a bad system. the people will rebel if you just contain them. so this is all just in this one -- you haven't even opened the box at this point. the topics that i go through that i noticed on the cards obviously korea.
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other themes that i identified and literally you could jiggle and juggle themes of these 48 cards however you wished, but this is -- i saw specific categories. military hardware was a theme. obviously atomic warfare, and geography in the cold war. if the cold war turned hot in korea, we're next. berlin, which we saw from the berlin airlift, is it a city or a country or? biography. we have big man, american history. behind the iron curtain, common people -- and drawing a new curtain, who are those leaders that are going to make communism in other countries? workers, african american, it is one card that addresses a huge issue given the constant trope of slavery. then the common woman, man and child. this is the three cards i identified as specifically relating to korea. we see the important idea that the forces were from the united
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nations and we see men on the battlefield and specific battles that the -- that people could learn from. the idea was that you would say if you had card 32, u.n. counter attack, and you had two of those, but you really wanted bridging a stream under fire, you would say to your friend, you know, i'll give you my u.n. counter attack if you give me bridging a stream under fire, or number eight. the idea is you see these cards and you experience them and pass them hand to hand, you're going to read the text at some point, probably, but you are certainly going to look at these very dramatic and quiet nightmarish as the interviewer said, nightmarish pictures of war, and
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in theory edging people towards creating peace. military hardware was one of the biggest themes. you know, this was kind of a -- in order to engage young minds with the idea of technology, with might, with power and the like. atomic warfare, we saw this card earlier as the advertisement for this talk. this city picture is the idea of what an atom bomb could do to a city, and if we see pictures of hiroshima and other towns, it would probably look a lot worse than this. we are growing stronger by realizing this could happen to us. we are working to make america stronger day by day and week by
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week and we must continue to work for peace through the united nations and in every possible way. but america is full y prepared to defend itself, and america fully prepared to defend itself is not likely to be attacked. here we are doing our part in the apocalypse -- this is part of the atomic subject, and here we have every man fighting the war. geography is important, and many people think of the cold war between the soviet union and the united states, and even in 1951 to the creators of cards for children, they knew that this was very much a global cold war.
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of course we have what were referred to -- came to be referred to as the domino nations which were in asia if one nation fell, all others would, and if this was the idea of korea, there goes japan and all the rest. there are other cards here that we must pay attention to. greece, turkey, alaska, the netherlands, finland, so it's a geography lesson. the one continent not covered is africa, and we could ask, why these countries? i had a student write the entire term paper on the master's level about the finland card, only the finland card. we can also ask what is not there? so african nations in the middle east are clearly absent. berlin is an important thing to look at. berlin was divided at the end of the war into east and west.
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it became known as the hot spot, the cold war hot spot. as we saw with the berlin airlift was becoming increasingly important, and, indeed, that is where the wall went up and became the staging ground for many standoffs. here's the berlin airlift card. we see here, different pictures, and bringing children food and other commodities. there's the idea of kidnapping, people against their will were taken across berlin from the west to the east, and at this point the wall had not gone off. and biography is a big topic. this is big-man history. we have eisenhower in the right who will become president, but many others you can learn about, and these are the american leaders, and we also have the
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war heroes, and i call this, it could be you, generals on the ground and the every man soldier. we also have the martyrs behind the iron curtain, a very important case that highlighted the oppression of religious freedom and also got into the idea of a psychological warfare and brain manipulation and drugging of people to make false confessions. here, the men who make iron curtains, this is the one big man, the war maker who is ghoulish and green.
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workers are a very important theme because workers in the soviet union are depicted as slaves. they don't get to have the fruits of their own labor. they can't earn money. the state directs their work. here is a fascinating card on african americans that is -- that somebody can easily write an entire paper on this and there are people who have written papers on the idea of race, not only with the idea of african americans in this card but how race is depicted in
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other cards. this is the common man, woman and child. as we see the common man is threatened and kidnapped in berlin and visited by the red police. if you look at the back sign, this turns out to be hungry although you would not know that unless you new hungarian, and the women and children, indeed -- i picked this card to look at more closely because it's the only card that features women and children, and it's the only card in a trading deck -- in a trading game for boys that features women. the other card about nuclear armageddon has women in it, but a man is in the foreground. so here we are, the women -- the koreans fleeing from the chinese reds, and the soviets braved the ocean in small ships to get to america, and they are celebrated
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in this. isn't that an interesting thing to consider in today's world? for in america a man may choose his work and his friends. in other words, they are getting on boats, as they should, to get away from communist. he enjoys freedom of speech and worship -- again, religion. he can come and go as he likes. americans will never exchange their freedom for red slavery. how does this idea of red slavery speak to the card on slave labor. again, we are not going back to that card on african americans, because that was the achilles' heel of the united states, but here the slave laborers are soviet citizens. what is very interesting about this card is this is where i go down what we call the proverbial rabbit hole of research. if we review the card, in parenthesis, they are forced to
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do slave labor, if your parents want more information about this they can find it in the state department bulletin for thept which is the united states government publication. the bowman trading card is working with the state department to educate -- to educate america on the goings on, and indeed what one can do is search on the internet for the department of state bulletin, which can be found, and read september 25th, 1950, and see what parents would learn about which is this idea of slave labor as put forth as a u.n. resolution that every man
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should work for his own wages, that he and she should have freedom and this bulletin goes on and on. it encompasses a truly global war in its reach with the united nations. i have to give a big shout-out to david lambert who is the archivist at the state department, and i went around looking on the national archives website, and i e-mailed the national archives and he e-mailed back in hours with a link to all the department of
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state bulletins, which are a fascinating study within themselves, and a record group he had found. indeed there are files on all the companies who in the early '50s cooperated with the united states government in these projects, and there is a box to be seen in washington -- or in college park, maryland, where the national archives sit once covid ends, but there's a box entitled bowman trading cards in the u.s. government archives.
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so much work to be done. president biden is also expected to attend this, making this the first time since 2016 that a sitting president has made an appearance. our coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. we will have highlights from past dinners ahead of the program. coverage on the and c-span now app begins live at 6:30. the white house correspondents' association dinner, live, saturday, april 30th. season focuses on the


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