Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Charles McGovern

Committee Members

Jay T. Watkins, III

Frederick C. Corney

Mitchell D. Brown


This paper assesses why two projects with the same name, concept and intent of forming cultural consensus, the Freedom Trains, took such different forms between the postwar "consensus" (1947-1963) and detente (1963-1979) phases of the Cold War. It argues that organizers Attorney General Tom C. Clark (1947), Ross Rowland (1975), and their corporate backers articulated histories based on perceived common values of limited rights (1947), cultural pluralism (1975) and consumption (both) that attempted unity, but resulted in silences. The reception to each train, and the organizers' responses to those reactions, showed the limitations of a unifying consensus, but varied between the two periods. Finally, the paper examines how the strength and type of recollection of both trains by the public (and efforts by government leaders, civic groups, and Ross Rowland to shape those memories) varied across time, and argues that the relatively limited recollection reflects the weakness of the only organized mythology of the Cold War, the "good versus evil" teleological narrative.

Creative Commons License

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