Cover image for Historical dictionary of the 1960s
Historical dictionary of the 1960s
Olson, James Stuart, 1946-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 548 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1200 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E841 .H58 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Few eras in U.S. history have begun with more optimistic promise and ended in more pessimistic despair than the 1960s. When JFK became president in 1960, the U.S. was the hope of the world. Ten years later American power abroad seemed wasted in the jungles of Indochina, and critics at home cast doubt on whether the U.S. was really the land of the free and the home of the brave. This book takes an encyclopedic look at the decade--at the individuals who shaped the era, the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the women's movement, and the youth rebellion. It covers the political, military, social, cultural, religious, economic, and diplomatic topics that made the 1960s a unique decade in U.S. history.

Author Notes

JAMES S. OLSON is Professor of History and department chair at Sam Houston State University. He has written and edited many books, including The Peoples of Africa: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary (1996), The Vietnam War: Handbook of the Literature and Research (1993), and Historical Dictionary of the 1920s (1988), all published by Greenwood Press.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

As we move into the new century, retrospective views are becoming common (for example, The ABC-CLIO Companion to the 1960s Counterculture in America [RBB Mr 15 98], The Sixties in America [RBB S 1 99], and other books on previous decades). These two volumes from Greenwood explore a period of dramatic change in the U.S. in the areas of culture, politics, emerging varietal viewpoints, and the economy. Brief alphabetically arranged essays provide information about the prominent people, events, issues, and controversies of the decades, as well as the culture of the era. Groups including women, blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics, as well as social movements, are well represented. Both volumes offer a spectrum of topics such as entertainment influences (The Beatles, All in the Family, Hair, Sesame Street, The Twilight Zone), events (Detente, Lunar landing, Stonewall Inn riots, Watergate scandal, Woodstock), developments (Birth control pill, Gay power, Indochinese immigrants, Rustbelt, Videocassette recorder), and the people who helped bring about these occurrences and define these years. The reader can learn of the history of the 1960s and 1970s as well as how trends and developments from those decades have continued right up to the 1990s. The essay on the Barbie doll in the 1970s volume is an example, beginning with Barbie's inception in the early 1950s, the influence of the women's movement of the 1970s, the modifications of the 1980s, and the doll's continued success in the 1990s. Some topics, such as the Vietnam War, are treated in both volumes. However, the Vietnam War was a bigger part of the 1960s, and the entry in the 1960s volume is longer and much more detailed. Most entries have copious references to related articles as well as suggested readings at their conclusion. A comprehensive chronology, a selected bibliography arranged by broad topics, and an index complete each book. James S. Olson and his contributors have produced two companion resources that are recommended for high-school, academic, and public libraries. Readable for either the person who lived through or was born after these periods, Historical Dictionary of the 1960s and Historical Dictionary of the 1970s will enlighten, inform, and lead to a clearer assessment of this period of identity shift for the U.S., its people, and its culture.

Choice Review

Because so many reference books about the 1960s are available, book selectors can be discriminating in choosing books for this period. Similar to Olson's other Greenwood historical dictionaries on US history (Historical Dictionary of the New Deal, CH, May'86, and Historical Dictionary of the 1920s, CH, Dec'88), this dictionary offers brief entries on personages, organizations, events, and fictional characters, and on military, political, cultural, religious, diplomatic, and economic topics. Each entry includes at least one reference, and there is a chronology and a select bibliography. The editor (history, Sam Houston State Univ., TX) teaches a course on the Vietnam War. Other history faculty, students, and private individuals wrote many of the entries. This book offers nothing new to reference collections. A better choice for libraries would be The Sixties in America, ed. by Carl Singleton (3v., CH, Oct'99). R. Dyson; Lamar University

Table of Contents

The Dictionary
Appendix Chronology of the 1960s
Selected Bibliography of the 1960s