The Fifties in America surveys the events and people of all of North America during the 1950's. This three-volume publication, Salem Press's second reference set on a twentieth century decade, is modeled on the award-winning The Sixties in America (1999).
The 1950's are often portrayed as an uneventful era in North American history--a period of political and cultural conservatism. The decade was in fact a period of political turbulence, mounting world conflict, and cultural change. The 1950's experienced the Cold War, McCarthyism and a trend toward the suppression of civil liberties.
The Fifties in America covers topics such as rock and roll, Elvis Presley, and the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, all of which continued to have an impact in the 1960's. These and many other topics, which range from half-column articles on individual personages, books, events, films, court cases, and other subjects, to 7-page overviews on such subjects as literature, economics, education, politics, medicine, music, science, film, and television. Written with the needs of students and general readers in mind, the articles present clear discussions of topics, explaining terms and references that may be unfamiliar to contemporary readers.
The essays are arranged in alphabetical order and important dates and selected facts are highlighted in ready-reference top matter at the beginnings of articles on people, organizations, events, and artistic works. Within the texts of articles, boldfaced subheads such as "Impact" or "Subsequent Events" make finding information quick and easy. Cross-references at the end of each article will guide readers to additional entries on related subjects. Every article, regardless of length, also offers annotated bibliographical notes under the heading of "Further Readings."
No reference work on the 1950's would be complete without extensive visual elements, and this set contains more than 300 photographs of the decade's events and numerous maps, graphs, charts, and sidebars highlighting the decade's most interesting facts and trends. As an additional aid to readers, volume 3 contains a detailed index to photo subjects.
Other Search Tools
The Fifties in America also contains a number of useful tools to help readers find the subjects of interest. A complete list of all 640 essays appears at the beginning of each volume. A list of essays sorted under more than fifty categories appears at the end of volume 3, and the third volume contains a comprehensive index and personages index, as well as the photo index. On average, each essay topic is listed three times in the category list, under headings ranging from "African Americans" and "Art and architecture" to "Women's issues" and "Youth culture." The comprehensive index also has aspects of the category list, as it contains collective entries on such subjects as individual films, television programs, plays, novels, awards, and people.
The third volume contains fifteen appendices that provide additional information about selected aspects of the decade in quickly accessible formats. The five drama appendices list the major films, Broadway plays, television shows, and major awards of the 1950's. The two literature appendices list the best-selling U.S. books and major literary award winners, and the music appendix lists the decade's most popular musicians and their hits. A sports appendix provides a quick look at the winners of the major sporting events of the 1950's. The two legislative appendices look at the U.S. Supreme Court and its major decisions and major legislation passed by Congress during the decade. Other appendices include a glossary of new words and slang from the 1950's, a detailed time line of the decade, an extensive annotated bibliography, and an annotated list of Web sources on 1950's subjects.