Ad*Access Timeline: 1951-1955

International Affairs

  • The Korean War ends in 1953, after lasting three years. U.S. casualties totaled 137,051; 25,604 of those resulted in death. 7,955 soldiers remained missing after the war.
  • May 7, 1954. French forces withdraw from Vietnam. The country becomes partitioned into northern and southern states.
  • 1955. Foreign aid to South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos is begun by the United States.
  • Feb. 26, 1955. U.S. stockpile of atomic bombs reaches 4,000. The U.S.S.R is estimated to have 1,000.

U.S. Politics & Government

  • 1951. Price controls are introduced to curb high inflation.
  • March 2, 1952. The Supreme Court rules that "subversives" can be barred from teaching in public schools.
  • 1953. Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated as President.
  • 1953. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for espionage.
  • January 2, 1953. Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin is investigated by the Senate Privileges and Elections subcommittee, which finds his political activities to be motivated by self-interest. Sen. McCarthy led the congressional investigation of hundreds of accused dissidents. These investigations centered around the perceived threat of communist infiltration into United States society.
  • May 17, 1954. In the case of Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas the Supreme Court rules racial segration in public schools unconstitutional.

Companies, Inventions, Discoveries & Technology

  • June 25, 1951. CBS presents the first commercial color TV broadcast. It lasts for four hours. There were no color TV sets owned by the public at this time, so only CBS executives and engineers viewed the accomplishment. By 1954 1% of televisions owned in the U.S. were color, a decade later the proportion had increased to 3.1%. By the early 1980s, over 90% of televisions sold were color.
  • September 4, 1951. The first transcontinental television broadcast is presented.
  • November 10, 1951. The first transcontinental direct dial telephone service is introduced in New Jersey.
  • April 12, 1955. The Salk vaccine against polio is introduced.
  • 1955 sees dramatic increases in the sales of home appliances, new homes, andtelevisions. By 1954 54% of American homes had television sets.

Humanities and The Arts, Entertainment & Sports

  • 1950-1955. Marilyn Monroe releases some of her most notable films and becomes a movie star of legendary proportions: All About Eve, 1950; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953; The Seven Year Itch, 1955.
  • 1951. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I premiers on Broadway
  • 1951. Bedtime for Bonzo, starring Ronald Reagan, is released by Universal Pictures.
  • 1952. Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man is published.
  • 1954. The children's morning television series "Captain Kangaroo" premieres on CBS.
  • July 1954. Elvis Presley joins Sun Records and what would come to be called Sun's "Million Dollar Quartet" - the foursome that also included Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. By 1955 Elvis had recorded 5 songs and gained some popularity in the South. By 1956 Elvis had achieved national fame by making appearances on such television shows as "The Ed Sullivan Show".


  • December 9, 1953. General Electric announces that all communist employees will be discharged.
  • 1954. 45% of Americans smoke at least one pack of cigarettes a day. 90% of adults drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day. America's favorite meal is fruit cup, vegetable soup, steak and potatoes, peas, rolls with butter, and pie a la mode.
  • 1955. Blue jeans, rock & roll and comic books become increasingly popular.
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