A researcher for Mad Men contacted librarians to recreate the breaking news cycle of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. After combing through the LAB collections, librarians pulled together a variety of documents featured here, as well as some audio files of President John F. Kennedy’s speech and the NBC news coverage, featured below.
The information gathered from LAB’s extensive collections provided not only historical accuracy, but much of the driving force for the plot of “Meditations in an Emergency”, the season 2 finale of Mad Men.
The final episode of season 2 focuses on the culmination of Don Draper’s return, Betty’s pregnancy anxiety, and Sterling Cooper’s merger with a British company. Even for anyone who hasn’t seen the episode, it is easy to see tensions would be running high and the Cuban Missile Crisis further propels this tension. It is the transition between scenes and the impetus for many decisions and actions of the characters since, really, no one knows if they will be alive on Monday.
The resources from the Library of American Broadcasting were used to recreate the news reports and radio interruptions. Throughout the episode, reports of the potential doomsday are interjected, each time aligning with a pivotal decision or plot point. With the help of the historical timeline, the plot is catapulted forward until its culmination in the “all clear” for warfare, but a bomb dropped in Don’s life.