1950 The Korean War begins.
Search the Veterans
History Project database for
digitized collections of oral history interviews and related
sources. One can limit a search by conflict, gender, and to
Doughnuts and a Witty Line of Chatter: The Photos and Letters of Helen
Stevenson Meyner in Japan and Korea, 1950-1952 [
Lafayette College Special Collections and College Archives]
Includes over twenty photographs and short excerpts from Meyner's letters
to her family.
1950 Senator Margaret
Chase Smith denounces the tactics used by Joseph McCarthy in her Declaration
of Conscience speech [Margaret Chase Smith Library].
1951 Barbara Johns and other high school students organize a strike in
Prince Edward County, Virginia. This strike will lead to Dorothy Davis v.
Prince Edward County School Board, one of the cases decided in the
Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.
News in the Civil Rights Era includes oral history
interviews with Edwilda Allen Isaac, one of the student leaders in the
strike, and her mother.
McClintock discovers mobile genetic
elements in plants.
Papers [Profiles in Science, National
Library of Medicine]
includes correspondence, lecture notes, and numerous
1951 Brownie Wise is appointed
general sales manager of Tupperware Home
Experience: Tupperware [PBS] a profile
of Wise, primary sources (e.g., "Brownie and Earl's Aphorisms"), a
program transcript, a timeline, and more.
1951 I Love Lucy premiers
Masters: Lucille Ball [PBS] includes a brief essay, career timeline,
video clips not found in the documentary, and an interview with the
The online Encyclopedia
of Television provides a good biographical profile of Lucille
Virginia Apgar develops and introduces the Apgar Score, a system for
rating a newborn's pulse, respiration, muscle tone, color and
The Virginia Apgar Papers
[Profiles in Science, National Library of Medicine] offers an overview of
Apgar's career and a wide range
of online primary sources (articles, correspondence, photographs,
Apgar, part of Changing the Face
of Medicine from the National Library of Medicine, includes a
biographical profile and a small collection of photographs.
Apgar - Newborn Baby Evaluation [They Made America - PBS]
1953 Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human
Female is published.
Book Search offers a limited preview of the 1998 edition.
1953 The American Association of
University Women (AAUW) issues "The
Communist Threat to Freedom and Democracy." This document, available
from the AAUW's Online
Musuem, argues that "the attempt to fight communism by using
totalitarian techniques is not only ineffectual but actually aids the
communist enemies of democracy by undermining our free
1953 Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are
executed for treason.
Views of the Rosenberg Spy Case (Grace-Ellen McCrann, Cohen
Library, City College of New York)
and Ethel Rosenberg (Dwight D. Eisenhower Library)
Listen to 50th
Anniversary of the Rosenberg Executions (Talk of the Nation, National
Public Radio, 18 June 2003).
1954 Anne Braden and her husband Carl purchase a home in a white
Louisville suburb and sell to the Wades, an African American family.
Braden recalls this decision and its aftermath in an oral history
interview, part of the Kentucky Historical Society's Civil Rights Movement in
Kentucky Oral History Project. Access note: conduct a "Quick
for Braden or browse the Open
Catherine Fosl places this and other events in Braden's life in historical
context in Subversive
Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle
for Racial Justice in the Cold War South (Palgrave Macmillan,
1954 Brown v. Board of
Bridge: The AFT and Brown v. Board of Education [Reuther Library,
Wayne State University] explores The American Federation of Teachers'
for Brown, as well as the AFT's efforts to integrate its own locals.
see the Library of Congress online exhibit
"With an Even Hand": Brown
v. Brown at Fifty.
1954 Journalist Ethel Payne asks
President Eisenhower, "When can we expect
that you will issue an executive order ending segregation in interstate
Payne recalls this question and Eisenhower's reaction in a Women in Journalism oral
history interview. See page 46 of Session 2.
Muhammad Commentary: Ethel Payne Stamp includes a portion of a 1980
interview with Payne in which she mentions Eisenhower and the significance
of her advocacy style of reporting.
1955 Emmet Till is brutally murdered in Mississippi.
Listen to the Studs Terkel interview
with Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmet Till's mother.
See the brief story (3 min., 43 sec.) about Mamie
Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmet Till, appears on WGBH's 10 O'Clock
1955 Maria Goeppert Mayer and Hans
D. Jensen publish Elementary Theory
of Nuclear Shell Structure. In 1963, Mayer and Jensen will share the
Nobel Prize for Physics for their work.
Nobelprize.org includes a biographical
profile, Mayer's Nobel
lecture in text format, and links to other resources.
to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery,
Alabama. Her arrest sparks a 381-day boycott of the city's bus system.
See Teaching With
The Arrest Records of Rosa Parks [National Archives].
Watch an interview with Rosa
Parks [Teachers' Domain]; Parks recalls her role in Montgomery Bus
Access note: although access is free, registration is required.
They Changed the World: The
Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott [Montgomery Advertiser] documents
the roles of Parks, Jo
Ann Robinson, Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, and others in
boycott. The site includes brief video clips of interviews, newspaper articles,
biographical profiles, and a timeline.
1955 WHER: The First All-Girl Radio
Station in The World.
Listen to WHER
1000 Beautiful Watts: Part I and Part
II, part of National Public Radio's Lost and Found Sound series.
Autherine Lucy enrolls at the University of Alabama after more than three
years of court action.
3: "From the Archives: Autherine Lucy and Thurgood Marshall Press
Conference, January 1956." [Talking History, 13 January 2005]
See also: Autherine
Lucy and the University of Alabama [Library of Congress].
1956 Chien-Shiung Wu's experiments
prove that parity is not conserved in
nuclear beta decay.
Although Chien-Shiung Wu did not win the Nobel Prize, she is featured in
Sharon Bertsch McGrayne's Nobel Prize Women in
Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries
Columbia University features Chien-Shiung
Wu on its Columbians Ahead of Their Time site.
1957 Althea Gibson wins the women's singles title at Wimbledon.
Tennis Great Althea Gibson [Tavis Smiley Show; audio; 10 min.]
includes interviews with David Dinkins and tennis star Zina Garrison.
1957 Billie Holiday performs "Fine
and Mellow" on the CBS live broadcast of
Sound of Jazz.
"Fine and Mellow" is part of The
NPR 100, National Public Radio's
selection of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th
century. The audio clip includes Holiday's performance, as well as
Village Voice writer Nat Hentoff's thoughts on this groundbreaking concert.
1957 Dorothy Height becomes
president of the National Council of Negro
Height discusses her memoir with National Public Radio's Juan Williams in
Wide the Freedom Gates: Dorothy Height Relates Her Struggle for Civil
Rights [Time: 7:21].
1957 The first African American
students were to be admitted to Central High
School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Watch the interview with Melba
Pattillo Beals [Teachers' Domain]; Beals recalls her experience as one
of the "Little Rock Nine."
Photographs includes photographs of Elizabeth Eckford and other key
figures (e.g., Daisy Bates). Search for Central High School.
Letter from Daisy Bates to Roy Wilkins, part of the Pages
from Her Story [Library of Congress].
Mahalia Jackson performs "His Eye is on the Sparrow" at the Newport
"His Eye is on the Sparrow" is part of The NPR
100, National Public
Radio's selection of the 100 most important American musical works of the
20th century. The audio clip includes an appreciation by Deborah
clips from Studs Terkel's interview with Jackson, and clips from "His
Eye is on the Sparrow."
Peterson, Kelsy. The Glory
of Woman: Prescriptive Literature in the
Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture
[online]. Durham, NC: Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and
Culture, Duke University, 2003 [cited 21 November 2005]. Available
Researchers can browse this extensive, annotated bibliography by
Clothing and Fashion
Dress Costume Collections allows researchers to search four
collections simultaneously. Enter 1950-1959 to search
for items from the 1950s.
Historical Museum Children's Clothing Collection
[online]. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, updated 26 June 2001
[cited 10 December 2001]. Available
Tour the collection by decade (then by gender and type of clothing).
Archive includes short clips from films that depict Alaska Native
culture (e.g., "Eskimo women and children weaving baskets at
Unalakleet") during the 1950s. Search for women and moving
Television News of the
Civil Rights Era, 1950-1970 [online]. Charlottesville,
Va.: University of Virginia, Virginia Center for Digital History, 2005-
Researchers can examine state and county topics for individual census
years and over time, as well as generate maps of selected data.
Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to
1970. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1975.
Also available online in two parts: Part
1 and Part
Statistical Abstract of the United States [online]. Washington,
DC: Government Printing Office, 1879- .
A valuable online tool for locating historical statistics for a given
The sites listed below are just a few of the many oral history
collections that cover the 1950s.
Use In the First Person to
locate additional oral history collections.
Women's History [online]. Norfolk, Va.: Old Dominion University
Library, 2000- . Available
Interviews focus on such topics as "Women Physicians in Tidewater,
1945-1960," the Girl Scout Movement, religion, and politics.
In a Southern Oral History Program interview, Norma Scott Baynes
recalls life as an African American student during the final years of
Reflection Project: Expectations includes interviews with Mount
Holyoke College students from the class of 1955.
See the Public Opinion section for
citations to print and electronic sources.
Walker, Nancy A. Women's Magazines, 1940-1960: Gender Roles and the
Popular Press. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, c1998.
America: History & Life [online]. Santa Barbara, CA : ABC-Clio,
Inc., 1998- .
This database offers a simple option for limiting a search for articles
and other sources to a specific time period.
American Women Through Time
Middle Tennessee State Univ. Library
Murfreesboro, TN 37132