America: 1952

As he prepared to leave office, President Truman could look with satisfaction over a prosperous country that had weathered many storms during his watch. America in 1952 was a nation at the peak of its economic and military power. Yet, paradoxically, uncertainties, frustrations, and a sense of vulnerability also haunted this America of confidence, prosperity, and military might. Power and insecurity, plenty and want, generosity and prejudice-America in 1952 embodied all these contradictions. This complex picture was captured in the varied pages of Life magazine, which chronicled life in the U.S. at the dawn of what some called "The American Century."

The main focus of this area is Life magazine, and covers and layouts from the periodical concerning a wide range of social, political, and economic issues cover the walls.

Display of America in 1952

Two vertically-oriented monitors (each the same size as a Life magazine cover) are embedded in the wall and each run a four minute video program of period ads, with a soundtrack with Ella Fitzgerald's "Not For Me" and Mel Torme's "Heart and Soul." A table and chairs will be available for visitors to take a break and look through flipbooks containing magazine and newspaper articles and photos taken from Life and other publications from 1952. Some of these focus on aspects of life in Independence and Kansas City during the time period.