Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New in the Archives: Cold War Sanitation Kit

Katies are always prepared for what ever strikes next and the Cold War was no exception.The St. Kate's campus was a fallout shelter for students and the surrounding neighborhoods. Look around campus and you'll see the weathered metal signs on Whitby, the Visual Arts Building and most other buildings. In the spirit of Katie preparedness, the reading room of the Archives and Special Collections features some items from the fallout shelters in a new display including a new addition to our collection: a sanitation kit!

The fallout shelters had to be prepared for an nuclear attack at any moment, and supplies were provided by the Civil Defense Department and included food, water, medicine, and sanitation kits.

The Archives and Special Collections recently acquired an original sanitation kit, left over from the fallout shelters on campus. The kit includes everything necessary to create a functioning bathroom for 50 people. The barrel itself is the body of the toilet and would have a plastic liner installed before use, a toilet seat would be added as the final touch. The kit comes with rolls of toilet paper but recommends that the toilet paper is used sparingly and divided among the group.

When the barrel is full there are brief instructions for disposal. The kit would just stay in the shelter until the all clear is given and people can move out of the fallout shelter and back into their homes. One can suppose that living in a fallout shelter you would have bigger problems and concerns than a cardboard toilet.

The display includes maps showing the fallout shelter in the Whitby basement and a map of St. Paul with all fallout shelters marked. There is also a letter to Mother Antoine informing her that St. Kate's will become a casualty and mass care center in the event of a nuclear attack. The display includes a small card with instructions in the event of a nuclear attack, what you should do depending on where you are, and if the attack came with warning or not. The card stresses to stay put until the all clear.

For more information on the history of St. Catherine University, visit the Archives and Special Collections online or in person in Room 62 in the lower level of the Library; open Monday-Friday from 9:30-4:30

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