The People History Home

The Year 1954 Major News Events 70 Years Ago

  1. Senator Joseph McCarthy is censured, bringing an end to his witch hunt of Communists
  2. The First Indo-China War Ends
  3. The Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Board of Education, stating that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional
  4. Ellis Island in New York closes as a point of Immigration
  5. President Eisenhower signs into law the new social security bill funded by employers and employees
  6. US "Operation Wetback" is started on 17th July to send back to Mexico almost 4 million illegal immigrants
  7. Hydrogen bomb test conducted on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
  8. The words "under God" are added to the United States Pledge of Allegiance
  9. First sub 4 minute mile run on May 6th by Roger Bannister
  10. Swanson introduces TV Dinners

More Detailed Information on each Event and those not included can be found below

What Happened in 1954 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

What Happened in 1954 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture Major News Stories include Mass vaccination of children against polio begins, Elvis Presley begins his music career, Communist Control Act outlawing Communist Party in the US, Brown v. Board of Education Decision, Mercedes introduced the 300SL coupe, with its gull-wing doors, US "Operation Wetback" is started, Ellis Island in New York closes as a point of Immigration, Senator Joseph McCarthy is censured, bringing an end to his witch hunt of Communists.

Following more wives moving back into the workforce the economy continued to grow and consumer goods and television programmes included the popular "Father Knows Best" Marlin Brando starred in two of the most popular movies " On The Waterfront" and "The Wild One" The Movie " Blackboard Jungle" also featured the song " Rock Around The Clock" from Bill Haley and the Comets, and Elvis Presley cut his first commercial record. A new trend also started called DIY Do It Yourself projects as families wanted to improve their homes and do their own maintenance . car engines continued to get bigger and more powerful and gas cost 29 cents. Following the discovery of a vaccine against Polio, the first mass vaccination of children against begins. Brown v Board of Education makes segregation in US Public Schools Unconstitutional.

Cost of Living 1954 - How Much things cost

Yearly Inflation Rate USA 0.32%

Yearly Inflation Rate UK 1.9%

Average Cost of new house $10.250.00

Average wages per year - $4,100.00

Average Cost of a new car - $1,700.00

Average Cost of Rent $85.00 per month

Movie Ticket - 70 cents

Life Magazine - 20 cents

The Dow Jones recovers back to pre Wall Street Crash highs of 381.17

Cost of a gallon of Gas 21 cents

Average House Price UK - 1,970 -

Part of our Collection of Furniture from the 1950s

1956 Portable Bar 1956 Portable Bar
Price $49.50
For the "host with the most".. the fellow who has everything. Made to order for the man who entertains... be it cocktail party or snacks after a skating party. Three removable, adjustable shelves hold bottles and glasses. Alcohol-proof baked on enameled metal top. Sturdy steel washable plastic-coated fabric sides. Brass-plated metal trim. Choose from walnut, blonde or black.

United States --- McCarthyism

Senator Joseph McCarthy is censured, bringing an end to his witch hunt of Communists

More Information and Timeline For McCarthyism

1. February 1950 - US Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin makes a speech declaring that he has a list of Communists working in the State Department

2. 1950 - The Tydings Senate Committee investigates McCarthy's claims and declares them to be fraudulent

3. 1950 - McCarthy retaliates by implying that Senator Tydings of Maryland is a Communist sympathizer and Tydings loses re-election

4. September 1950 - Congress passes the McCarran Internal Security Act which allows the creation of the Subversive Activities Control Board to monitor Communists in the United States

5. 1951 - McCarthy accuses General Marshall of being involved in an immense conspiracy

6. 1953 - Senator McCarthy becomes the chair of the Senate Committee on Government Operations and pursues alleged Communists within the Executive branch

7. 1953 - McCarthyism spreads as more people join in on it, books by certain authors begin to be banned and diplomats who rouse the attention of McCarthy are removed, panic spreads

8. 1953 - McCarthy's influence reaches its peak as loyalty oaths and black lists reach all corners of the country. Many people are accused as a result of "guilt by association" and many others are forced to endure intimidating legislative hearings

9. 1953 - As the Korean War ends, McCarthy starts to attack the military and begins a search for spies and Communists within Fort Monmouth, New Jersey

10. 1954 - The Army decides to fight back and holds the televised Army-McCarthy hearings from April until June. The dramatic hearings draw a large audience as viewers watch McCarthy self-destruct

December 1954 - Senator McCarthy is formally censured by the Senate in a 67 to 22 vote, effectively ending his Communist witch hunt

1957 - Joseph McCarthy dies

McCarthy's witch hunt and panic had several notable victims, including Dr. Oppenheimer, the creator of the atomic bomb, who had his security clearance removed due to already well-known to security "left-wing" associations from his past

Vietnam --- The First Indo-China War Ends

The First Indo-China war ends when France gives up North Vietnam to the Communists

More Information and Timeline For First Indo-China War

1. 1946 - The "First" Indo-China war begins when the Viet Minh, led by nationalists Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap, resist the French occupation

2. 1949 - The French recognize the independence under Bao Dai's puppet regime and help the country form the Vietnamese National Army as way to bolster support in their favor

3. 1949 - The French give independence to Laos and Cambodia in another effort to build support in the region

4. 1950 - The United States starts giving military aid to France and will eventually pay most of the cost of the war

5. 1950 - General Vo Nguyen Giap begins attacking the French and French-controlled Vietnamese army as he receives Chinese support from the now Communist country under Mao Zedong

6. 1950 - The Viet Minh drive French and French-controlled Vietnamese troops from several areas of the country

7. 1950 - The Soviet Union and China both recognize Ho Chi Minh as the leader of Vietnam and continue to send support and aid to the Viet Minh

8. 1951 - French armed forces get a new commander, General De Lattre, who is successful at holding off the Viet Minh's forces and driving them back

9. 1952 - Fighting continues between De Lattre's troops and Giap's Viet Minh

10. 1953 - The Viet Minh invades Laos to put more pressure on the French

11. 1954 - The Battle of Dienbienphu takes place as the last major battle of the war

12.. July - The Geneva Conference is held after the French suffer a great loss in the Battle of Dienbienphu. The 17th parallel is set as the boundary between Communist North Vietnam and Western-controlled South Vietnam

Disagreements over elections and unification that had been promised in the Geneva Accords escalated into the "Second Indo-China War" also known as the Vietnam war between Vietnam and the United States.

United States --- Brown v. Board of Education Decision

The Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Board of Education, stating that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional

More Information and Timeline For Brown v. Board of Education

1. 1896 - The Supreme Court decides Plessy v. Ferguson and as a result created the "Separate but Equal" rule in regards to racial segregation, legitimizing state laws on segregation that could violate the 14th Amendment

2. 1896 until the early 1950's - Racial segregation continues but does not actually exist in terms of "Separate but Equal", but is used to as a way to discriminate against Black Americans

3. 1951 - Thirteen parents file a class-action lawsuit against the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas, calling for the city to end racial segregation in public schools

4. 1951 - The parents involved in the lawsuit attempt to enroll their children in the schools nearest to their homes but are refused entry and told to enroll in segregated schools by officials

5. 1951 - The District Court rules against the parents and cites the ruling from Plessy v. Ferguson as justification

6. 1952 - The case is argued before the Supreme Court for the first time

7. 1953 - The case is re-argued before the Supreme Court

8. 1954 - US Supreme Court rules against the Board of Education in an unanimous decision. The court states that separate but equal is inherently unequal when it comes to providing public education and that the segregation of public schools violated the 14th Amendment

The ruling sent the message that all forms of state-mandated segregation would not be tolerated by the court any longer. This message received a lot of resistance from Southern leaders in particular leading to the standoffs and conflicts for Civil Rights that we would see during the rest of the 1950s and early 1960s

1954 Popular Culture

Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets

NBC’s “The Tonight Show” was first aired with Steve Allen as the host

Marilyn Monroe marries Joe DeMaggio

Elvis Presley begins his music career

Popular Films

Popular Films

White Christmas

The Caine Mutiny

The Glenn Miller Story

On the Waterfront

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Popular Books

Live and Let Die - Ian Fleming

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

The Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring - J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings : The Two Towers - J. R. R. Tolkien

The Magicians - J.B. Priestley

Popular TV

Father Knows Best

I Love Lucy

The Lone Ranger

The Adventures of Superman

Popular Singers

Eddie Fisher

Perry Como

Doris Day

Frank Sinatra

Rosemary Clooney

Dean Martin

Part of our Collection of Toys 1954

Betsy McCall Doll From The 1950s Betsy McCall Doll
Manufacturer: Ideal
Price: $7.59
A true replica of the popular Betsy McCall doll to sew for. Her head is soft vinyl plastic; almost life-like. Delicate plastic body; fully jointed arms and legs, movable head. Sparkling glassene eyes close; edged with thick lashes. Saran hair to set, comb, and brush. Wears a perky cotton dress, panties, and shoes. Easy-to-sew apron pattern included.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island in New York closes as a point of Immigration

More Information for the History and Timeline of Ellis Island

1. Indian Tribes call the Island "Kioshk" or Gull Island.

2. Dutch and English Colonists know the Island as Oyster Island

3. 1700's Samuel Ellis buys the Island where the Island gets it's name from

4. 1808 Federal government purchased Ellis Island from New York State

5. 1809 Federal government constructed a parapet for three tiers of circular guns making The Island as part of the new harbor defense system

6. 1855 to 1890 Castle Clinton was the New York State immigration station processing some 8 million immigrants

7. 1890 to 1892 Federal government constructs a new Federally-operated immigration station on Ellis Island

8. 1892 January 1st Ellis Island opens as an immigration station

9. 1892 January 2nd Annie Moore, a 15 year-old Irish girl, accompanied by her two brothers is the very first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island

10. 1897 June 14th Fire burns the immigration station completely to the ground ( Federal and State immigration records dating back to 1855 burned along with the pine buildings that failed to protect them )

11. 1897 to 1900 New fireproof Immigration buildings built

12. 1900 December 17th Immigration restarts at Ellis Island

13. 1900 to 1918 Millions of Immigrants passed through Ellis Island bought on steamships from Europe

14. 1918 to 1919 Suspected enemy aliens and suspected alien radicals from throughout the United States brought to Ellis Island under custody

15. 1919 to 1924 Immigration continues at a much decreased pace following the passage of the Quota Laws 1921 and the National Origins Act 1924

16. 1924 to 1954 Only those who had problems with paperwork, war refugees and displaced persons were processed.

17. 1954 The last detainee, a Norwegian merchant seaman named Arne Peterssen was released, and Ellis Island officially closed

What is often not realized is not all Immigrants entering the United States were processed at Ellis Island many were never required to undergo processing only those who arrived on "steerage" or third class passengers were processed at Ellis Island. First and second class passengers who arrived in New York Harbor were not required to undergo the inspection process at Ellis Island.

Ellis Island is located in the upper bay just off the New Jersey coast, within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty,

Part of our Fashion Collection 1954

Wool Houndstooth Suit 1954 Wool Houndstooth Suit
Price: $27.85
So hard-finished and wrinkle-resistant it simply ignores wrinkles and wear. The dressy houndstooth pattern will win you many compliments with its high styled multicolor treatment. The tailoring and smooth fitting lines put you at your best. Two button, single breasted, three patch pocket styling. Doubles as a dressy sport coat. For dress, casual occasions. Pleated trousers with quality trimmings. Waldes zipper. No vest. Choose from medium blue or light brown.

Part of our 1950s Ladies Dresses

1954 Iridescent Taffeta Dress 1954 Iridescent Taffeta Dress
Price: $5.59
Iridescent chromspun taffeta... crisp, richly colored acetate with changeable two-tone effect... keeps its color. Flattering neckline has pleated insert; rhinestone trim. Flared two-gore skirt back. Reinforced rayon velvet belt. Colors are sparkling deep blue or sparkling wine red.

Bikini Atoll - Operation Castle

1. Operation Castle begins in March.

2. It was a series of nuclear bomb tests conducted by the United States’ Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Defense which took place on Bikini Atoll.

3. The first explosion, Castle Bravo, was the first test of “dry fuel" thermonuclear bombs which used lithium deuteride that did not require cumbersome cryogenic equipment to keep the fuel liquefied as in previous versions.

4. The 15-megaton explosion of Castle Bravo was about three times more powerful than expected, causing mass amounts of contamination and radiation exposure to nearby island inhabitants, naval ships, fishermen, and test personnel.

5. It prompted international cries for a ban on atmospheric thermonuclear testing.

Switzerland - Geneva Accords

The Geneva Agreements are signed at the Geneva Conference during July. The conference began in April and was held in Geneva, Switzerland. The purpose was to settle the final terms of the Korean War and First Indochina War. Diplomats from the People’s Republic of China, US, USSR, South Korea, and North Korea attended to negotiate the end of the Korean conflict and signed an armistice that was ultimately ineffective as the required follow-up conference was never held. Representatives from France, Vietnam, Laos, USSR, US, People’s Republic of China, Cambodia, and the United Kingdom negotiated the accords to end the Indochina War. The terms of the agreement stated Vietnam would be temporarily divided and have to hold elections and reunite the country after two years.

From our 1950s Food Prices Page

  • Pork Roast 39 cents per pound
    Florida 1952
  • Potatoes 35 cents for 5 pounds
    New Hampshire 1950
  • Rib Roast 29 cents per pound
    Wisconsin 1954
  • Sirloin Steak 55 cents per pound
    Florida 1952

Calendar For The Year 1954

1954 Calendar

Born This Year in 1954

Condoleezza Rice

Born: November 14th Birmingham, AL

Bruce Hornsby

Born: November 23th, Williamsburg, VA

Jackie Chan

Born: April 7th Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

John Travolta

Born: February 18th, Englewood, NJ

Denzel Washington

Born: December 28th, Mount Vernon, NY

Ron Howard

Born: March 1st, Duncan, OK

Scott Bakula

Born: October 9th, St. Louis, MO

U.S. social security bill

President Eisenhower signs into law the new social security bill funded by employers and employees.

U.S. Iwo Jima statue

President Dwight D. Eisenhower performs the dedication ceremony for the Iwo Jima statue at the USMC War Memorial

U.S. "Operation Wetback"

US "Operation Wetback" is started on 17th July to send back to Mexico almost 4 million illegal immigrants

U.S. " Domino Effect"

President Dwight D. Eisenhower coins the Cold War phrase " Domino Effect" on the spread of Communism

U.S. Communist Control Act

President Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act outlawing Communist Party in the US

U.S. civil defense drill

America does a large scale nationwide civil defense drill simulating the death of over 12 million Americans in a mock nuclear attack.

U.S. Dow Jones

Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at an all-time high of 38 2.74

Guatemala Castillo Armas

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) backed Castillo Armas takes over as leader of Guatemala

U.S. Hydrogen bomb test

Hydrogen bomb test conducted on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

Algeria Earthquake

Earthquake strikes strikes Orleansville, Algeria killing 1,600

U.S. Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated first issue

U.S. Pledge of Allegiance

The words "under God" are added to the United States Pledge of Allegiance signed into law on June 14th .

U.S. American Motors Corporation ( AMC )

Nash and Hudson merged to form the American Motors Corporation ( AMC ) The Nash Metropolitan built by the Austin Motor Company (by then part of British Motor Corporation ) went on sale for $1,445

Kenya Mau Mau Rebels

10,000 Mau Mau Rebels Rounded Up in Kenya By British Forces

Morocco Locust Swarm

Desert Locust Swarm Morocco destroying $14 million dollars of Citrus Fruits in 6 weeks

UK Nineteen Eighty-Four.

BBC Television screens its famous, and controversial, adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

UK First sub 4 minute mile

First sub 4 minute mile run on May 6th by Roger Bannister

U.S. Veteran’s Day

Armistice Day is renamed Veteran’s Day to honor vets from the Civil War, WWI and WWII, and the Korean conflict

UK Rationing

Rationing finally ends in Great Britain

U.S. Hurricane Hazel

Three Hurricanes strike US in one year including Hurricane Hazel on October 14th one of the worst hurricanes of the 20th century

U.S. Hurricane Carol

Hurricane Carol strikes New England killing 70

Germany World Cup

West Germany wins the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland defeating Hungary

Major World Political Leaders

- Australia - Prime Minister - Sir Robert Menzies -

- Brazil - President - Getúlio Vargas - Till 24 August

- Brazil - President - Café Filho - From 24 August

- Canada - Prime Minister - Louis St. Laurent -

- China - Chairman of the People's Republic of China - Mao Zedong -

- France - President - Vincent Auriol - Till 16 January

- France - President - René Coty - From 16 January

- Germany - Chancellor - Konrad Adenauer -

- India - Prime Minister - Jawahar Lal Nehru -

- Italy - Prime Minister - Giuseppe Pella - Till 12 January

- Italy - Prime Minister - Amintore Fanfani - From 18 January

- Italy - Prime Minister - Amintore Fanfani - Till 8 February

- Italy - Prime Minister - Mario Scelba - From 10 February

- Japan - Prime Minister - Shigeru Yoshida - Till 10 December

- Japan - Prime Minister - Ichiro Hatoyama - From 10 December

- Mexico - President - Adolfo Ruiz Cortines -

- Russia / Soviet Union - First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union - Nikita Khrushchev -

- South Africa - Prime Minister - Daniel François Malan - Till 30 November

- South Africa - Prime Minister - Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom - From 30 November

- United States - President - Dwight D. Eisenhower -

- United Kingdom - Prime Minister - Sir Winston Churchill -


First Nuclear Powered Submarine commissioned by US Navy Nautilus Russia

The world's first atomic power station opened at Obninsk, near Moscow. Germany

Mercedes introduced the 300SL coupe, with its gull-wing doors U.S.

Boeing 707 ( America's First Jet Airliner ) takes it's Maiden Flight U.S.

The first automatic toll collection machine in New JerseyU.S.

The rosebowl Parade is broadcast in color on TV U.S.

Swanson introduces TV Dinners U.S.

General Motors produces it's 50 millionth car

The first mass vaccination of children against polio begins

The first organ transplants are done in Boston and Paris.

The First all Electronic Color television goes on sale from RCA the CT-100 selling for $1,000

Inventions Invented by Inventors and Country ( or attributed to First Use )

Solar Cell USA also called photo voltaic cells

Robot USA by George C Devol Jr

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