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Nevada Test Site
History 101 & 102
As the Cold War---a tense ideological, political, and military confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted more than 40 years---escalated, the two nations jockeyed for military supremacy. This was an anxiety-ridden world divided between the competing ideologies of communism and capitalism, characterized by tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. To gain the edge, both engaged in an arms race and spent billions of dollars developing nuclear weapons. Though the United States created the world's first atomic weapon in 1945, it continued to build and improve nuclear weapons technology over the course of the next half century. The nation's primary continental testing facility for these weapons was the Nevada Test Site (NTS). From its inception, the Nevada Test Site served dual military and political roles situated in the historical context of the Cold War world. Between 1951 and 1992, 1,021 nuclear explosions took place at NTS, which was located on desert land a mere 60 miles from Las Vegas.
Let's consider the history of the Nevada Test Site through two sources:
- Newspapers provide accounts of events as they occur. As a general rule, they are reliable sources of factual information. Lied Library offers access to hundreds of newspapers in both physical and digital format.
Short screencast tutorials are available on locating:
- international newspapers on microfilm (with audio or without audio),
- U.S. newspapers on microfilm (with audio or without audio), and
- Nevada newspapers on microfilm (with audio or without audio)
- All newspapers in digital databases (with audio or without audio).
- Oral histories are recorded interviews (either sound, video, or transcript) with individuals who have first-hand knowledge of particular events. Lied Library is home to hundreds of oral histories, many of which pertain to Las Vegas and Nevada history. Most of these oral histories are located in Special Collections. For this exercise, we're using the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project, an online collection of oral histories of individuals affected by or affiliated with the NTS, conducted by members of the UNLV History and Sociology Departments.
For this exercise, we're primarily using the Historical New York Times database and the Historical Los Angeles Times database.
Look at the history of the Nevada Test Site as it pertains to four groups:
When you have finished reading, take the quiz.
Finished the quiz? Go here.