Cover image for Historical dictionary of the 1950s
Historical dictionary of the 1950s
Olson, James Stuart, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
353 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1170 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.12 .O44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Today, Americans look back nostalgically at the 1950s, an era when television and rock and roll revolutionized popular culture, and Vietnam, race riots, drug abuse, and protest movements were still in the future. With homes in the suburbs, new automobiles, and the latest electrical gadgets, many Americans believed they were the most prosperous people on earth. Yet the era was tainted by the fear of thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union, deepening racial tensions, and discontent with rigid roles for women and the demands of corporate conformity. A sense of rebellion had begun to brew behind the facade. It manifested itself in rock and roll, the budding civil rights movement, and the appearance of a youth culture, eventually exploding in the 1960s.

Providing a comprehensive overview, this book includes entries on the prominent people, major events, issues, scandals, ideas, popular culture, and court cases of the decade that gave rise to the tensions of the 1960s.

Author Notes

JAMES S. OLSON is Distinguished Professor of History at Sam Houston State University, where he has taught since 1972. He is the author of more than 20 books on U.S. and world history, including Historical Dictionary of the 1970s (Greenwood, 1999) and Historical Dictionary of the 1960s (Greenwood, 1999).

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

An A^-Z survey of the decade, from The Abbott and Costello Show and Acheson, Dean to Zinjanthropus (the first possible human ancestor discovered by Louis and Mary Leakey in Africa) and Zorro. Libraries that have found Olson's Historical Dictionary of the 1960s and Historical Dictionary of the 1970s [both RBB Ap 15 00] useful will want to add this volume.

Choice Review

Olson (history, Sam Houston State Univ.), with his colleague Tracy Steele, has produced the third in a series of historical dictionaries about post-WW II America (dictionaries for the 1960s and 1970s appeared in 1999). Approximately 750 essays of varying length, alphabetically arranged, treat issues, people, movements, foreign affairs, popular culture, and events of the decade. Suggested readings (sometimes only one) appear at the end of each essay. Although essays often provide some interpretation, they are primarily factual in nature and accurate. Cross-references are starred. Although Olson attempts to be inclusive, many essays focus on popular culture as expressed by movies, television, and music. A brief chronology, a somewhat dated selected bibliography arranged by topics (politics, literature and intellectual life, social life, red scare, rock and roll), and a useful index with the main essay pages printed in boldface are all helpful. Olson claims that all unsigned entries are his own, but a diligent search failed to find any signed entry. Although somewhat pricey, the dictionary is an adequate source for quick reference about the American experience during the 1950s. Recommended for general reference collections. C. C. Hay III; Eastern Kentucky University

Table of Contents

The Dictionary: Chronology of the 1950s