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In the early 1960s, the US women’s peace-and-justice movement collided with a new and unsettling world of war toys. Taking note of an unprecedented proliferation of military-themed playthings, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Women Strike for Peace launched the largest campaign in history to protest toys on political grounds. The nuclear age, they contended, required the rejection of Cold War militarism not just in the streets but also in the home. If the middle-class family was popularly invoked as the first line of defense in America’s Cold War struggle with the USSR, these mostly white middle-class activist mothers used toys to stage the family as a demilitarized zone. In doing so, they not only repurposed the patriotic terms of domesticity for anti–Cold War critique but also laid the groundwork for new discussions about both the values of toys and the practices of progressive parenting in a consumer culture.

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