North Dakota and American Society, 1945-1972: An Overview

In most ways life for North Dakotans was like that of other Americans in those decades after World War II. They spent much more leisure time watching television. They continued to support libraries, perhaps checking out Elwyn Robinson’s new History of North Dakota. They no longer feared outbreaks of polio. They built new buildings in modern forms. They traveled more and took longer vacation trips by car. They enjoyed more organized sport activities and kept their eyes on local boys who made it to the “big show.”

Yet, in two ways life for North Dakotans was not quite like life for other Americans. First, general prosperity characterized all corners of the nation, but in North Dakota the return of good times was especially appreciated. After twenty years of economically depressed conditions, North Dakota needed that prosperity to catch up: public schools, colleges, universities, libraries, roads, churches, and other public and private facilities.

Second, all Americans endured the fear that the Cold War created. In North Dakota that fear ran deeper than most places, for the people found themselves “in the line of fire.” The planes from two United States airbases filled the sky at times. Three hundred nuclear missile silos filled the earth. An anti-missile missile system stretched across the state and a huge antiballistic missile site was located at Nekoma. An ABC news reporter called North Dakota “the world’s third nuclear power.”

By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton


Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change