The Cold Wars

Russian and US Relations in the Twentieth Century
Duration: 
September 19, 2019 to May 3, 2020

title graphic for The Cold Wars exhibit

On November 8th, 1917 soldiers loyal to the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, more commonly known as the Bolsheviks, overthrew that nation's government and began their 74 year experiment with Communism. American journalist John Reed witnessed the revolution first hand, detailing his experiences in the sympathetic and widely read Ten Days that Shook the World. The United States government did not share his idealistic enthusiasm and even sent troops to support anti-Bolshevik forces in the ensuing Civil War.

The Cold War, a half century conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union commonly said to have lasted from 1946 to 1991, in many ways began decades earlier with this long forgotten intervention. The underlying ideological and geopolitical disputes that defined the conflict long predated 1946, and continue to generate tensions to this day. However the Cold War years not only involved periods of extreme hostility but also intervals of concession and cooperation. Indeed, as John Reed demonstrated, American's attitudes towards their erstwhile enemy were as varied as the nation itself. This exhibit suggests that it might perhaps be more accurate to look at this whole era as a series of individual Cold Wars.

Through the wide-ranging, eclectic materials of William & Mary Libraries' Special Collection Research Center, this exhibit highlights the era's conflicts and compromises from a firsthand perspective.


Curation: Henry Prown, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies and 2018-2019 Exhibits Apprentice

Design: Abram Clear '21, SCRC Student Graphics Assistant

Fabrication and Installation: Henry Prown; Jennie Davy, Exhibits Manager; KateKarl Nash '21, Special Collections Student Assistant; Sara Donovan '20, Special Collections Student Assistant; Shayna Gutcho, Mosaic Fellow