This is a guide to selected sources of information related to the 1950s and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is meant as a starting point for your research. For further research assistance, please stop by the Reference Desk, or see our Ask a Librarian page for info on how to email, text, or call a reference librarian for help.
Visit Geisel Library's Research Help webpage for help with getting started. In particular, check out the following:
- Research Planner: Create a timetable of milestones for completing your paper, with links to useful resources at each step
- Research Strategy: Helpful suggestions for every stage of the research process, from choosing a topic to citing your sources
- Research Tutorials: Web guides and videos on how to use library resources
Before looking for books and journal articles on your topic, it is helpful to explore reference resources such as subject-specific encyclopedias. These resources can provide background information on authors and literary works, as well as the social issues, historical periods, and themes being addressed in this course. They can also help you determine keywords to search in the library catalog and journal databases. Use the bibliographies at the end of articles in reference resources to identify books and journal articles worth tracking down.
Documentary History of the Truman Presidency
Reserves E813 .D56 1995 v.1 ("The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan")
Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics
Ref Q175.35 .E53 (print version)
Harry S. Truman Encyclopedia
Historical Dictionary of the 1950s
Historical Encyclopedia of World War II
Oxford Companion to American Military History
Oxford Companion to World War II
Ref D740 .O94
Geisel Library Catalog
There are two approaches to finding books in the Geisel Library catalog:
1) Keyword Searching
If you have a specific topic in mind, try a Keyword search on terms that represent your topic of interest. Use the Boolean AND to combine together multiple concepts, and use the Boolean OR to expand your search with synonyms and related terms. Use the * (asterisk) to retrieve variant forms of a word.
Here are some examples of keyword searches related to this course's theme:
- (atomic OR nuclear) AND bomb AND histor*
- (Hiroshima OR Nagasaki) AND (victim* OR survivor*)
- Truman AND bomb*
- (moral* OR ethic*) AND nuclear
2) Subject Searching
If you have a general area of interest but haven't chosen a specific topic, try searching some of the phrases below as Subject Headings in the catalog. Subject searching is effective for finding books about broad concepts. Skimming through these books may give you ideas about how to focus your research.
- Atomic bomb - United States - History
- Nuclear warfare - Moral and ethical aspects
- Nuclear weapons
- World War, 1939-1945 - Japan
Here are some books found through keyword and subject searching:
The atomic bomb: Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The fifties [David Halberstam]
First into Nagasaki: The censored eyewitness dispatches
Hirohito and the making of modern Japan
Hiroshima in America: Fifty years of denial
Hiroshima in history: The myths of revisionism
The Hiroshima maidens: a story of courage, compassion, and survival
By searching WorldCat, you can identify potentially useful books owned by other college libraries and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use. Try searching the same keywords and subject headings that proved successful in the Geisel Library catalog. To request a book, open the book's WorldCat record, click the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link, and follow the on-screen instructions. Allow 7–10 days for delivery. You will be emailed when your book arrives.
Below are several databases that may yield useful journal articles for your research. Try searching the same keywords that you used in the library catalog, combining concepts together using the Boolean AND and OR operators. Once you find relevant articles, examine their Subject Headings and conduct Subject searches on the ones that seem potentially fruitful.
If you find a useful article for which no full-text link is available, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in Geisel Library or in full-text via another database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access. To learn how to use WebBridge, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins.; includes audio).
Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database is an excellent starting point for finding scholarly journal articles and popular magazine articles on a wide range of topics.
America: History and Life
The best place to start for topics involving United States history. Use the Historical Period limiter (below the full text limiter checkboxes) to specify your time period of interest.
The best place to start for researching non-US history. Use the Historical Period limiter (below the full text limiter checkboxes) to specify your time period of interest.
Search here for full-text articles from major scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences. User Guide
New York Times - Historical (Full Text)
This database provides full-text access to every article in the New York Times, from 1851 to four years ago. A good source for discovering how specific events were seen in 1954 as they happened. User Guide
A massive database covering a wide range of subjects, with full-text of scholarly journal articles and newspaper articles.
Readers' Guide Retrospective
This database provides citations to popular magazine articles for the period 1890-1982. It is a great way to find articles from 1954 on events that happened that year.
An excellent starting point for sociocultural perspectives. This sociology database provides full-text journal articles and citations to books and conference papers.
CrossSearch enables you to search across multiple databases at once to find journal articles. For this assignment, you may wish to search in the History and/or Sociology subject categories . If an article looks useful, click on the WebBridge icon to see if it is available in full-text or in Geisel Library's periodicals collection. For tips on using CrossSearch, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins.; includes audio).
Journal Finder will help you determine whether a particular article is available in Geisel Library's online databases or periodicals collection. Use it when you encounter citations to useful-looking articles in the bibliographies of reference books or other journal articles, and want to track down the full text. Search the journal's title in Journal Finder and use the resulting links to locate the article's full text in either a database or the library collection. If Journal Finder does not provide any links, you can request the journal article through Interlibrary Loan. To learn more about how to use the Journal Finder, please watch our video tutorial (3 mins.; includes audio).
These websites were handpicked for their relevance to your course topic. You may also want to conduct keyword searching on your topics in a search engine such as Google, but be sure to look for indications that the websites you find are authoritative, objective and reliable. For help with this, see our guide to Evaluating Websites.
Several documents pertaining to Hiroshima, including translated eyewitness accounts and a summary report by the Manhattan Engineer District.
The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II (National Security Archive)
An online "briefing book" of U.S. and Japanese documents used by scholars to reconstruct what went on behind the scenes.
The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb (Truman Library)
A collection of memos, letters, press releases, and other documents that shed light on President Truman's momentous decision.
Drawings by Survivors (M.I.T.)
Several hundred drawings by survivors of the Hiroshima bombing, depicting the bombing and its aftermath.
Enola Gay Exhibit Archive (Air Force Association)
A collection of articles, reports, and primary-source texts that document the controversy over the Smithsonian's Enola Gay exhibit in 1995. The internal documents show how the exhibit's creators struggled to achieve a balanced presentation.
Peace Database (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)
This searchable resource offers a collection of digitized videos and photos relating to the bombing of Hiroshima, plus videotaped testimonies (in Japanese) and drawings by survivors.
For assistance with formatting your citations in MLA style, see the online resources available on the library's Citing Sources webpage. You can also ask for the MLA Handbook (Ready Ref LB2369 .G53) at the library's reference desk.