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Toledo-Lucas County Civil Defense Records

 File — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS-342

Scope and Contents

The administration of the program was divided, initially, into four “special staff” groups: Communication, Transportation, Evacuation, and Mutual Aid and Mobile Assistance. The Advisory Council governed the program and was made-up of fifteen to twenty members including the City Manager and chaired by the Mayor. In December 1955, after much pressure and internal conflict, the city civil defense organization was merged with the Lucas County civil defense program under the auspice of James W. Ault. In 1960 the director requested a budget of $34,000 of which 63% came from the city of Toledo and 37% from Lucas County, with the percentages based on population.

In the early years the program focused on evacuation in the event of nuclear attack. Air raid warning sirens were placed atop of the Spitzer Building in 1952 and atomic bomb drills were held in 1953 and 1954, while a hydrogen bomb drill was practiced on June 15, 1955. In the June test, deemed successful, it was estimated in Toledo that 22,280 civilians would have been killed with another 12,348 wounded. Most problematic with the program was general civilian “apathy” towards it, of not really caring about civil defense or a nuclear attack. This problem was nation-wide and councilmen Ned Skelton noted that when he was “in grade school we used to conduct fire drills much better than this [bomb drill] was conducted.” Eventually with the increase in size and destructiveness of nuclear attacks evacuation was considered less and less practical.

Beginning in 1962, through the instigation of the federal government, a fallout shelter program was started. Buildings were selected and stockpiled with food, water and medical supplies in case of a nuclear attack and the resulting radiation fallout. This program continued into the late 1970s, but the paranoia of the Soviet threat began to wane. The stockpiles of supplies began to get lost or misplaced over the years and by the early 1990s the program had essentially been discontinued in all but name. Already beginning in 1957 the importance of civil defense began to be questioned as whether practical and worth the expense. This was best demonstrated when Toledo abolished its Civil Disaster and Defense Committee in that year and transferred its duties to the Public Health and Welfare Committee of Council, signifying the declining role and importance of civil defense. The Toledo-Lucas County Civil Defense program became the Lucas County Disaster Services agency in the late 1980s and the focus was shifted to natural disasters instead of "enemy attack.”

Dates

  • 1950-1953

Conditions Governing Access

“Collection is open for research. Materials may be accessed by request at the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections on the fifth floor of the William S. Carlson Library on the main campus of the University of Toledo. Materials do not circulate.”

Conditions Governing Use

In most cases, the Canaday Center does not own the copyright and literary rights to items in its collections; it is the responsibility of the researcher to adhere to U.S. Copyright and Fair Use laws, including seeking permission from the copyright holder and payment of any royalty fees, in the reproduction and use of archival materials.

Providing copies or scans does not constitute a license to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form.

Biographical / Historical

At the onset of the atomic age in 1945 a Cold War developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s between the United States and the Soviet Union. Each world power, with differing political ideologies, began creating large atomic and eventually hydrogen weapon arsenals with each side threatening to annihilate the other and vise versa in mutually assured destruction policies. Civil defense programs were initiated in the United States to help reduce the number of civilian causalities if such an apocalyptical event should ever occur. The city of Toledo following national and state pushes for civil defense programs established their own program on October 9, 1950. The objectives of the program were defined as follows:

Civil defense and civil disaster relief shall mean the preparation for and the carrying out of all emergency functions other than functions for which the military forces are primarily responsible, and those functions normally provided for by government...resulting from enemy attack, sabotage, or from fire, flood, or other natural causes.

Primarily in the dark days of the Cold War civil defense meant almost exclusively from “enemy attack.” Toledo city ordinance 575-50 established a Civil Disaster and Defense Committee and authorized the appointment of an advisory council and a director to execute the program’s operations. In section 6 of the Ordinance:

The Director of Civil Defense, with the advice of the Advisory Council, shall adopt such regulations as may be necessary to implement the operation of civil defense in the City of Toledo. The regulations shall be filed with the Clerk of Council of the City of Toledo and shall have the same effect as law unless Council shall within thirty days from the date of the filing with the Clerk of Council cause said regulations to be repealed by appropriate action of the City Council.

Retired Colonel Joseph F. More, of Toledo, was appointed the first director of the city’s civil defense program.

The administration of the program was divided, initially, into four “special staff” groups: Communication, Transportation, Evacuation, and Mutual Aid and Mobile Assistance. The Advisory Council governed the program and was made-up of fifteen to twenty members including the City Manager and chaired by the Mayor. In December 1955, after much pressure and internal conflict, the city civil defense organization was merged with the Lucas County civil defense program under the auspice of James W. Ault. In 1960 the director requested a budget of $34,000 of which 63% came from the city of Toledo and 37% from Lucas County, with the percentages based on population.

In the early years the program focused on evacuation in the event of nuclear attack. Air raid warning sirens were placed atop of the Spitzer Building in 1952 and atomic bomb drills were held in 1953 and 1954, while a hydrogen bomb drill was practiced on June 15, 1955. In the June test, deemed successful, it was estimated in Toledo that 22,280 civilians would have been killed with another 12,348 wounded. Most problematic with the program was general civilian “apathy” towards it, of not really caring about civil defense or a nuclear attack. This problem was nation-wide and councilmen Ned Skelton noted that when he was “in grade school we used to conduct fire drills much better than this [bomb drill] was conducted.” Eventually with the increase in size and destructiveness of nuclear attacks evacuation was considered less and less practical.

Beginning in 1962, through the instigation of the federal government, a fallout shelter program was started. Buildings were selected and stockpiled with food, water and medical supplies in case of a nuclear attack and the resulting radiation fallout. This program continued into the late 1970s, but the paranoia of the Soviet threat began to wane. The stockpiles of supplies began to get lost or misplaced over the years and by the early 1990s the program had essentially been discontinued in all but name. Already beginning in 1957 the importance of civil defense began to be questioned as whether practical and worth the expense. This was best demonstrated when Toledo abolished its Civil Disaster and Defense Committee in that year and transferred its duties to the Public Health and Welfare Committee of Council, signifying the declining role and importance of civil defense. The Toledo-Lucas County Civil Defense program became the Lucas County Disaster Services agency in the late 1980s and the focus was shifted to natural disasters instead of "enemy attack.”

Extent

14 Cubic Feet (14 record cartons)

Title
Toledo-Lucas County Civil Defense
Status
Completed
Author
Sara Mouch
Date
2019-06-18
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English
Edition statement
Second

Repository Details

Part of the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections Repository

Contact:
2801 West Bancroft Street
William S. Carlson Library, Fifth Floor
Toledo Ohio 43606 United States
419-530-4480