Fallout shelters entered the American vocabulary and consciousness in 1949 when the Soviet Union had detonated their first atomic bomb.
Information was distributed to educate Americans about how they could protect themselves. Survival literature was written primarily for a suburban audience, since it was assumed that cities would be targets and most urban dwellers would not survive.
President Kennedy, believing the lives of families not directly hit in a nuclear attack could still be saved if they could take shelter, endorsed the construction of fallout shelters which could be placed in a basement or buried in the backyard. Uncertainties about the bomb quieted during the mid-1960s and plans for building additional public shelters were postponed.
On display are relics of the 1960s. The family radiation measurement test kit is something that was stored with survival supplies in a bomb shelter.
The device resembling a fountain pen is a Personal Radiation Monitor or “Chirpee.” If radiation was detected, the instrument emitted a chirping sound and flashed a small red light.