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Cold War History: Resources   Tags: history  

A brief guide to local resources on the Cold War, with emphasis on primary source collections available through Western Libraries' Heritage Resources programs.
Last Updated: Apr 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Useful Search Terms

You may find it useful to search library and/or archival catalogs using some of the following subject search terms (you can also narrow results by adding a geographic location, e.g. Antinuclear movement--Washington (State)  OR Antinuclear movement--Washington (State)--Bellingham):

  • Antinuclear movement
  • Cold War
  • Communism
  • Nuclear warfare
  • Peace movements
  • United States--Foreign Relations
  • United States--Relations--Soviet Union
  • Soviet Union--Relations--United States
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1974
  • Washington (State).--Legislature.--Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities.

For resources about social protest and/or civil rights movements during the Cold War period, the following search terms may be useful:

  • Black power
  • Civil rights movements
  • College students
  • College students--Political activity
  • Conscientious Objectors
  • Feminism
  • Gay college students
  • New Left
  • Protest Movements
  • Race relations
  • Radicalism
  • Student movements
  • Student protesters
  • Women's rights

Ask a reference librarian or archivist if you need assistance.



This guide suggests useful resources for studying the history and impact of the Cold War, with an emphasis on primary and secondary sources available through Western Libraries and the Libraries' Heritage Resources collections. Please contact Western Libraries Research Desk or Heritage Resources' staff if you have questions and/or need assistance finding more information.


Searching Western Libraries' Catalog

Consult with your instructors about recommended readings and ask us if you need help finding a specific title or type of resource.
The following may be useful for background information & context: they provide access to primary source material of local & regional interest

Cover Art
American Decades - Matthew J. Bruccoli; Richard Layman
Call Number: Western Library Reference E169.12.A419
American Decades documents and analyzes periods of contemporary American social history, providing historical context in politics, & social, cultural, & lifestyle.
Check the 1950's, '60's & 70's as well for additional material.

Cover Art
American Decades Primary Sources - Cynthia Rose (Editor)
Call Number: Western Library Reference E169.1 .A471977
Also available online. Check the 1950's, '60's & 70's.

Cover Art
Cold War - Kevin Hillstrom (Editor)
Call Number: Western Library Reference D842.H48 2006
Good for background information, this work assembles 100 primary documents on this pivotal era in world history, supplemented with background information on the origins and significance of the document, including the historical context in which it was created. Other features include a glossary, chronology, bibliography, and subject index.

The Tree of liberty: a documentary history of rebellion and political crime in America
Call Number: Available at Western Library Wilson 4W - Books KF9390.A7 T74 1986
Contains primary source material. "A legal, historical, social, and psychological inquiry into rebellions and political crimes, their causes, suppression, and punishment in the United States."

Cover Art
U. S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1942-1976 - Andrew J. Birtle
Call Number: Available at Western Library Haggard 2 - Government Information D 114.2:D 65/3
Employing a range of primary and secondary sources, the author explains how the Army in the 1950s and 1960s developed a dual strategy that combined military measures with political and socioeconomic reforms.

Albert F. Canwell: An Oral History - Olympia: State of Washington
Call Number: Western Library Wilson 4C - Northwest Collection F895.22.C36 A3 1997
Publication Date: 1977

Un-American activities in the State of Washington: the work of the Canwell Committee - Countryman, Vern
Call Number: Available at Western Library Wilson 4C - Northwest Collection HX91.W3 C6 1967

Northwest Passage
Alternative newspaper published in Bellingham and later, Seattle, Washington, circa 1969-1986. Additional copies available at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.

Western Student Newspapers [Online Digital Collection]
Student newspaper and a rich source of information re: campus history.


Western Libraries provides access to a wide variety of article and research databases (a WWU log-in is required). Follow this link to the Libraries' online guide to Databases A-Z and/or ask staff at the Libraries' Research Desk for assistance.  

  • America History & Life  
    America: History and Life is the definitive index of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. Available with WWU login
  • Databases for History
    Links to: America: History and Life, the definitive index of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present; American Decades, New York Times online, and several other databases & resources.

Heritage Resources

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Heritage Resources
Contact Info
Special Collections, 6th Floor Wilson Library, 360-650-3193

University Archives and Records Center, Goltz-Murray Building, 360-650-3124

Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Goltz-Murray Building, 360-650-7534
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Heritage Resources


Western Libraries Heritage Resources provides for responsible stewardship of and access to unique and archival resources in support of teaching, learning and resarch at Western Washington University and beyond. The Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and University Archives and Records Management work together to document the culture and history of Western, the local community and Pacific Northwest region, and to promote public and scholarly access to holdings.


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