Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of History

Committee Chair

Alan C. Downs

Committee Member 1

William Thomas Allison

Committee Member 2

Cathy Skidmore-Hess


This thesis explores the effects of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site from 1951-1962 on Washington County, Utah, specifically focusing on the effects of these detonations on the local population, the local flora and fauna, and the ensuing impact of political and economic forces. While some Americans readily concede that these tests were necessary for the survival of the United States in the face of Soviet nuclear aggression, other Americans (notably, those who were most closely affected) do not share such a patriotic view of the government’s conduct in performing such extensive and damaging experiments. Therefore, the historical philosophy behind the compulsion to treat the deserts of the American Southwest (and the populations that inhabit them and the surrounding areas) as expendable resources, valuable only insofar as they serve economic, militaristic, or propagandistic purposes for the Federal government is examined.