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Duck and Cover reel by Castle Films

Identifier: C0505

Scope and Content

Duck and Cover reel film and original box, created by Castle Films for the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1951. The box is designed in red, blue, and white with the text "An Official Federal Defense Film/ Duck and Cover/ Castle Films" on the front.


  • 1951

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions.

Use Restrictions

The copyright and related rights status of this collection have not been evaluated (See

Historical Note

On August 29, 1949 the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb. The weapon was similar in design and explosive power to the United States’ “Fat Man” plutonium bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan four years earlier. The Soviets did not make any public statement about this development, but American intelligence agencies discovered evidence that was consistent with an explosion. It was formally announced on September 23 by United States President Harry S. Truman and confirmed the next day by the Soviet government. In only four years the U.S. monopoly on atomic weapons was over, and the country began an arms race with the Soviet Union.

Throughout the Cold War the U.S. government promoted the idea that nuclear war was survivable for those who took the proper precautions and had knowledge of how to protect themselves. The 1951 film Duck and Cover was created by the Federal Civil Defense Administration to teach school children how to protect themselves from a nuclear blast. The film's main character Bert the Turtle shows children how to hide under their desks and cover their heads to protect themselves from the effects of a bomb. You can view the film here.


.25 Linear Feet (1 reel and box.)

Language of Materials



Duck and Cover reel film and original box, created by Castle Films for the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1951.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The Special Collections Research Center does not have the equipment necessary to play reel-to-reel tapes. Additional time and money may be required to digitize this material for access.

Acquisition Information

Donor unknown.

Alternative Form Available

You can view the physical item here:

Related Materials

The Special Collections Research Center holds many other materials and collections related to the Cold War and nuclear warfare, including the Francis J. McNamara papers.

More information and materials can be found in our digital exhibition, Looking Over Our Shoulder: The Cold War in American Culture.

Processing Information

Processing and finding aid completed by Amanda Brent in June 2022. Bob Vay contributed to the Historical Note.

Guide to Duck and Cover reel by Castle Films
Duck and Cover reel by Castle Films
Amanda Brent
June 15, 2022
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections Research Center Repository

Fenwick Library, MS2FL
4400 University Dr.
Fairfax Virginia 22030 United States
703-993-8911 (Fax)