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A Visual Guide to the
Cold War


This unique digital resource was designed for middle- and high school educators and students who wish to explore the Cold War through visual primary sources. The materials are intended to enrich classroom and extracurricular learning and illustrate both the American and Soviet perspectives on the Cold War. Ranging from the end of WWII to the fall of the Soviet Union, the materials encompass a wide range of photographs, cartoons, posters and movie clips. Use the menu bar to browse by decade, theme, or material type.


A Quick Look

From the Library of Congress collection, we’ve curated


political cartoons by American editorial cartoonists.

Find over 200 political cartoons from the Soviet publication


(Krokodil/Crocodile) to rival the US-produced images in the Library of Congress.

Check out posters from the


Moscow Olympics, attended by 80 countries. 66 others did not participate due to a US-initiated boycott and economic reasons.

Our Picks








Shortly after the end of World War II, the USSR and the USA entered into a 43-year-long (1946-1989) global competition called the Cold War. Both governments shared the idea that the world was divided into two, distinct spheres. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin saw the world divided into two camps: the capitalist/imperialist states and the communist/progressive states. In his 1947 Truman Doctrine, US President Harry Truman outlined a reverse dichotomy: that of the freedom-loving states (led by the United States) and those bent on subjugating other nations (led by the Soviet Union).

By the mid-1950s, however, both Moscow and Washington accepted the idea of peaceful coexistence on their own terms, while ironically developing massive nuclear arsenals as guarantors of that peace. The Cold War increasingly took place in proxy wars, the Space Race, the Olympics, and propaganda. Both states thus found any and all means short of direct confrontation to fight this global battle. The various divisions and means of waging the Cold War are abundantly represented in this visual guide.