Find of the Month

Each month we highlight interesting, important, and odd items from our collection, along with the stories they tell.

Most recent Find of the Month

April 2024 - Operation Cue

Operation Cue observer handbook

A file in Mayor Allan Pomeroy's records alerts us to the existence of Operation Cue, a federal program designed to bring public officials from around the country to Nevada to witness an atomic test and discuss civil defense. Pomeroy was invited to a "shot" scheduled for April 1955 and was sent a form to fill out certifying he was a U.S. citizen.

He also received the Operation Cue Observer Handbook, which included information about the program, registration and lodging logistics, advice on what to wear, and more. A section on security noted that access to the site was controlled because "there are things going on...that potential enemies would like to know about." Observers were advised to pay attention to security briefings to avoid embarrassment and to "accept it cheerfully" if told something was out of bounds.

One page of the handbook related to safety at the test site. Detailed instructions were given regarding protecting one's eyes from the flash (either using high-density goggles or turning away from the test and squinting), as well as how to manage the shock wave. There were also warnings about snakes, rough ground ("under no circumstances should ladies wear high heels"), and wires that could be tripping hazards. No explicit mention was made of radioactivity, although observers were instructed not to pick up souvenirs from the ground.

Participants were advised that the test could be delayed by weather conditions or other factors, which did indeed happen to with the test Pomeroy was scheduled to attend. The mayor's notes indicate that he instead spent his time in Las Vegas meeting with various people, attending a "lousy show," and touring bars until 2 am before flying back to Seattle.

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Municipal Archives, City Clerk

Anne Frantilla, City Archivist
Address: 600 Fourth Avenue, Third Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94728, Seattle, WA, 98124-4728
Phone: (206) 684-8353

The Office of the City Clerk maintains the City's official records, provides support for the City Council, and manages the City's historical records through the Seattle Municipal Archives. The Clerk's Office provides information services to the public and to City staff.