American Dreams in the Cold War: Photos by Barbara and Ralph Fox
Barbara and Ralph Fox, 1943 Ralph C. and Barbara Rehberg Fox Collection (NSHS RG4701-2-116)
After months of extensive renovations, the Nebraska History Museum is set to reopen on April 1, 2016. The improved exhibit space and new lighting system will allow us to beautifully exhibit the amazing work of Lincoln photographers Barbara and Ralph Fox.
Nuclear Test, Nevada Test Site, March 17 1953 Ralph C. and Barbara Rehberg Fox Collection (NSHS RG4701-2-93)
Barbara and Ralph Fox not only captured the post-war American story in their iconic photos, they lived it. The post-war years were a time of prosperity and optimism. The ideal 1950s “nuclear family” consisted of a mother, father and two children. Families enjoyed more leisure time in their suburban backyards. These years also presented Americans with new challenges and perceived threats. In the next 20 years, the Cold War spawned international tensions between the United States and Russia. Fears of Communist subversion gripped domestic politics at home. For many Americans, the threat of nuclear war loomed overhead in the 1950s and 1960s.
Kevin Fox with bakery case, 1955
Ralph C. and Barbara Rehberg Fox Collection (NSHS RG4107-2-43)
Barbara Rehberg and Ralph C. Fox met on their first day of college at the University of Nebraska in 1940. She came to Lincoln from a remote ranch in Antelope County. He was from Logan, Iowa. They married on May 8, 1943, just before Ralph left for World War II Army boot camp. While Ralph trained with the army, Barbara finished college, graduating in 1944. Throughout her life, she lived by the principles she learned in journalism classes, “You have to tell the truth, even if it means risking your life.”
Little Boy Enjoying a Boat Ride at the Nebraska State Fair, 1950s
Ralph C. and Barbara Rehberg Fox Collection
After returning from the battlefields of Europe in 1946, Ralph finished his degree in photojournalism. He had a distinguished career as a photojournalist. His team at the Nebraska State Journal won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 1948 presidential primary. Barbara Fox worked as a freelance photojournalist. Her children, Paige and Kevin, often tagged along on photo assignments.
U.S. President Harry Truman at the Lincoln airport, 1948
Ralph C. and Barbara Rehberg Fox Collection (NSHS RG4107-2-105)
In 1954, Ralph lost his job at the newspaper. The Foxes started their own business, Fox Foto. They produced photojournalism for WOW News and the Associated Press (AP) as well as private businesses. Their photography included weddings, commercial work, press conferences, and celebrities. They also worked as the official photographers for the Nebraska State Fair. By the end of the 1960s, Barbara and Ralph Fox discovered their life’s work: helping people overcome alcohol addiction. They founded Houses of Hope alcohol and drug rehabilitation center.
Man Riding a Bucking Horse in a Rodeo in Wahoo, 1948 Ralph C. and Barbara Rehberg Fox Collection (NSHS RG4107-2-75)
After Ralph Fox died, his family began looking through boxes of negatives. They found a rich history of their family and community. American Dreams in the Cold War: Photos by Barbara and Ralph Fox will be exhibited at the Nebraska History Museum from April 1, 2016 to March 19, 2017. Come experience the Fox’s unique and exciting perspective on American culture during the Cold War. Tina Koeppe NSHS Curator & Coordinator