The National Archives Revisits the Cold War with Programs and Display
Press Release · Thursday, October 6, 2022

Washington, DC

The National Archives revisits the Cold War with a House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) program and document display, and programs to mark the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. All programs are Eastern Time. 

(Virtual) The Abyss: Nuclear Crisis Cuba 1962
October 14 at 1 p.m. Register online for the virtual program, view on YouTube.
In The Abyss, author Max Hastings turns his focus to one of the most terrifying events of  the mid-20th century—the 13 days in October 1962 when the world stood on the brink  of nuclear war. Hastings looks at the conflict with fresh eyes, focusing on the people at the heart of the crisis—American President John F. Kennedy, Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, and a host of their advisers. 

See the our Cuban Missile Crisis Special Topics page for extensive related records including clandestine real-time White House recordings from JFK’s meetings during the crisis, JFK’s doodles from October 1962, satellite images of missile sites under construction, CIA-prepared Personality Studies of Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, and secret correspondence between Kennedy and Khrushchev.

See also: Poise, Professionalism and a Little Luck, the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962
Related 9/29/22 program on the National Archives YouTube Channel
In collaboration with the Army War College and the Naval  History and Heritage Command, a panel discussed how the history of the Cuban Missile Crisis has changed with the release of previously classified records. 

(In Person and Virtual) Show Trial: Hollywood, House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and the Birth of  the Blacklist
October 20 at noon, William G. McGowan Theater in Washington, DC; Register online, view on The National Archives YouTube channel. 
In 1947, the Cold War came to Hollywood. Over nine tumultuous days in October,  the House Un-American Activities Committee held a notorious round of hearings into alleged  Communist subversion in the movie industry.
In Show Trial, author Thomas Doherty takes us behind  the scenes at the first full-on media-political spectacle of the postwar era. He details the proceedings that bridged the realms of entertainment and politics. A book signing will follow the program. 

(In Person and Virtual) The Cuban Missile Crisis: Lessons for Today
Smith Hall, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, MA.
October 22 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Register online.
This special conference commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis will explore the crisis and the lessons it still holds for us. Sessions will examine the historical context of the crisis as well as how its lessons resonate with contemporary challenges.

Session 1, 1 p.m.: Activist and author Daniel Ellsberg (virtual), New York University professor of public service and of history Tim Naftali, and Johns Hopkins professor of historical studies Mary Sarotte (virtual) will discuss the history of the Cuban Missile Crisis and crisis leadership. 

Session 2, 3 p.m.: Curator for special projects at the International Spy Museum Alexis Albion, intelligence and national security reporter at the Washington Post Shane Harris, New York University professor of public service and of history Tim Naftali, and staff writer at The Atlantic Tom Nichols will analyze the role of intelligence in the crisis and today.

Featured Display: Remembering the Hollywood 10: Screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr.
National Archives Museum, East Rotunda Gallery, through November 2 and online
Early in the Cold War, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated allegations of Communist activity in the film industry. The committee’s mandate was to “protect the form of government guaranteed by the Constitution.” However, the investigations contributed to a repressive and fearful atmosphere. 

On October 30, 1947, HUAC called Ring Lardner, Jr., Academy Award–winning screenwriter, to testify before the committee. He was removed from the witness stand when he declined to answer if he was a member of the Communist Party, saying, “I could answer the question exactly the way you want, Mr. Chairman … but if I did, I would hate myself in the morning.” Lardner and nine others, known as the Hollywood 10, were found guilty of contempt of Congress and blacklisted from Hollywood. Lardner served nearly 10 months in a federal prison.

Cuban Missile Crisis Background
At the height of the Cold War, for two weeks in October 1962, the world teetered on the edge of thermonuclear  war. Earlier that fall, the Soviet Union, under orders from Premier Nikita Khrushchev, began to  secretly deploy a nuclear strike force in Cuba, just 90 miles from the United States. President John F. Kennedy said the missiles would not be tolerated and insisted on their removal. Khrushchev refused. The standoff nearly caused a nuclear exchange and is remembered in this  country as the Cuban Missile Crisis. For 13 agonizing days, the United States and the Soviet Union stood on the brink of nuclear war. The peaceful resolution of the crisis with the Soviets is considered to be one of Kennedy’s greatest achievements.

The National Archives Museum is Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station. Museum hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day; admission is free.

More online:
World on the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK Library
Atomic Gambit: JFK Library podcast for 60th Anniversary
To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis release and video short
Military Resources: Bay of Pigs Invasion & Cuban Missile Crisis
Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis, NARA Public Program
Aerial Photograph of Missiles in Cuba (1962), Milestone Documents
One Step from Nuclear War - The Cuban Missile Crisis at 50, Prologue Magazine.
Forty Years Ago: The Cuban Missile Crisis, Prologue Magazine


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This page was last reviewed on October 6, 2022.
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