ABOUT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CIVIL DEFENSE
MISSION AND HISTORY
Civil Defense is defined as “plans or activities organized by civilians and civilian authorities for the protection of civilian population and property in times of such disasters or emergencies as war or floods.” The United States has had some form of a Civil Defense program since the formation of the Office of Civilian Defense in 1941. Since then, the focus, size, scope, and visibility of the program has ebbed and flowed with the changing geopolitical tides. Tied to developments in strategic nuclear weapons, missiles, and even spy satellites - it endured name changes to “Civil Preparedness” and later “Emergency Management.” Throughout this time, thousands of men and women (both paid employees and volunteers) at the federal, state, and local government dedicated themselves to the goal of protecting the public against catastrophe.
Today, Civil Defense is often seen in the public eye as a curiosity – generally associated with the early Cold War. Too often, the prevailing historical perspective on Civil Defense is less than a superficial footnote. It is the utmost goal of our organization to preserve this history in a way that reflects the dignity and urgency of the program, and the people who created and dedicated their lives to it. The Museum believes that there are many stories remaining to be told.
In 2020, a chance suggestion to Dr. Nicholas Studer led to the formation of the first 501(c)(3) nonprofit Museum dedicated to the U.S. Civil Defense and Emergency Management program - the National Museum of Civil Defense. In that short time, the NMCD has grown into an organization with the largest known Collection of related artifacts and archival materials. The NMCD connects with the public through online and social media presence, related conferences, oral history interviews, and artifact preservation.
MEET THE DIRECTOR
NICK STUDER, M.D.
Dr. Studer is a practicing Emergency Physician and the founder of the NMCD. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 first catalyzed Dr. Studer's interest in the history of our Nation's Civil Defense program, which grew into a desire to share his research with others. He realized that the rich history of the program was in danger of being lost and
He volunteered for the Brevard County (FL) Office of Emergency Management during the early 2000s, and later served at the Florida Department of Health - Bureau of Radiation Control's Radiological Instrument Maintenence & Calibration Laboratory from 2006-2010. He attended medical school at the University of South Florida, graduating in 2014. He has completed a Transitional Year Internship, Emergency Medicine Residency, Emergency Medical Services Fellowship, and a Disaster Medicine Fellowship along with numerous short courses relating to operational and prehospital medicine. Dr. Studer has published extensively on topics of relevance to military and emergency medicine.
As the Director, Dr. Studer is responsible for most aspects of day-to-day operations. His extensive collection of Civil Defense items forms the nucleus of the NMCD's permanent Collections.
FRANK BLAZICH, Ph.D.
A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Frank Blazich, Jr. specializes in the American military experience in the twentieth century. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he holds a doctorate in modern American history from The Ohio State University (2013).
In January 2017, he assumed his current position as curator of modern military history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. His first edited book, "Bataan Survivor: A POW’s Account of Japanese Captivity in World War II", was published by the University of Missouri Press in February 2017. He most recent book, “An Honorable Place in American Air Power”: Civil Air Patrol Coastal Patrol Operations, 1943-1943, was published by Air University Press in December 2020. His work has appeared in the North Carolina Historical Review, The Northern Mariner, the Naval War College Review, Marine Corps History, Army History, Air Power History, Naval History, Smithsonian Magazine Online, War on the Rocks, Volunteer Magazine, the Center for International Maritime History, The Sextant, and Seabee Magazine Online, and the Washington Post.
He is currently the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for the Society for Military History and the director of the Colonel Louisa S. Morse Center for Civil Air Patrol History. As a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol, Blazich previously served as the organization’s national historian from April 2013 to March 2018. In this position he directed the corporation’s entire history program, providing extensive technical assistance for the CAP’s 2014 Congressional Gold Medal effort and the corporation’s 75th anniversary commemoration in 2016.
BRUCE CURLEY, B.A.
Since 2007, Bruce Curley has been a member of the Board of Directors, now Vice President, of The American Civil Defense Association (TACDA). Through the TACDA Civil Defense Journal and his analysis on his civil defense blog (poetslife.blogspot.com) for 20 years, he creates, teaches, shares and implements civil defense strategies.
In the early 1980’s, his first job post-Air Force, was to inspect numerous county emergency operation centers and wrote articles for Hazard Monthly. Fascinated by the planning that went into these thousands of civil defense shelters then, he has continued to explore their purpose and use.
He presented a talk to the NCT CBRNe USA 2015 conference on Rolling Up ISIS Use of Social Media as a Force Multiplier. https://www.cbrneportal.com/isis-ability-to-use-social-media-as-a-force-multiplier-in-u-s-attacks/.
Bruce is a member of the Carroll County, MD, Community Emergency Response Team and is NIMS 101/102 certified. He wrote the Emergency Response Plan for his hometown of Mt. Airy, MD. He is a member of the Safety and Security Committee at his church where he has helped write the Emergency Response Plan and taught staff how to deal with the threat matrix.
Doug Harsha is the Assistant Curator for the Cold War Museum. His specialty is Cold War era Civil Defense.
In addition, he serves as the Cold War Museum’s social media lead.
DAVID KRUGLER, Ph.D.
Dr. David F. Krugler is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin—Platteville, where he has taught since completing his Ph.D. in history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997.
His research interests include Cold War-era civil defense. He is the author of This Is Only a Test: How Washington, D.C., Prepared for Nuclear War (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and editor of The Cold War: Core Documents (Ashland, Ohio: The Ashbrook Center, 2018). As a scholar of civil defense, he has appeared in the National Geographic Channel documentary American Doomsday and has been interviewed by the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Jason Wood, who currently resides in Texas, became interested in the country's Civil Defense program after obtaining a medical kit in 2006. His focus then grew from collecting items that interested him into thinking about how to preserve them as the important historical artifacts they were. Mr. Wood's knowledge is well known in the private collectors' community and he brings this expertise to the forefront within the Advisory Board.
George Wunderlich is currently the Director of the United States Army Medical Department Museum, Fort Sam Houston, TX. Formerly, he held the position the Executive Director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, MD where he had held the position of Director of Education. Mr. Wunderlich was previously Founder and Director of the Historical Education Center of St. Louis.
In 1995, Mr. Wunderlich was awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution National Medal of Honor for his work in public history. Since then he has developed historically-based medical leadership training programs for the Joint Medical Executive Skills Institute, The U.S. Army Medical Department, the Interagency Institute for Federal Health Care Executives, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and various other civilian and governmental organizations. In 2011, he was awarded the Order of Military Medical Merit by Army Surgeon General Lieutenant General Eric B. Schoomaker for his support of military medicine. He is a nationally known speaker on various Civil War topics and can be regularly seen on the History Channel, PBS, National Geographic and the British Broadcasting Corporation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where is the museum located?
The National Museum of Civil Defense is headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base, TX - just east of San Antonio, TX. The NMCD currently has Archival and Collections storage that is not generally open to the Public. A long-term plan to sustainably present a permanent "brick and mortar" museum is underway.
What are the museum's hours?
The Museum does not have set hours for viewing of the Archives or Collections. Researchers and other individuals with the desire to visit may contact us to schedule, subject to Volunteer availability.
Is photography allowed?
The Museum is happy to accomodate individuals who have an interest in photographing or documenting an item in our Collections. The NMCD has a dedicated area set up for photography of its items which visitors are welcome to use.
Does the museum loan items for outside display?
The Museum is interested in collaboration with organizations who share an interest in public education and raising awareness. Feel free to contact the museum director with any ideas or requests! We look forward to working with you!
Is the NMCD an advocacy organization?
The NMCD staff believe in the mission of the historical Civil Defense program and the personnel that executed it - that of protecting the American people from enemy attack or other disaster. However, the NMCD as an entity is non-partisan, non-political, and does not advocate for contemporary policy or program changes.
Is the museum staff available for interviews or speaking engagements?
Yes! Please contact us - if the museum staff are not appropriate for your need, we may have someone on our Advisory Board or within the community of emergency professionals who is able to help.
Does the NMCD conduct Oral History interviews?
This is one of the primary missions of the NMCD at this time, to preserve the history of Civil Defense and Emergency Management in the words of those who served. Please contact us if you or someone you know is interested in an interview.