John Ptak, dealer in rare science books says:
This letter, written in 1957 by Colonel Leslie S. Moore of the U.S. Biological Weapons Program at Fort Detrick, Maryland, to a member (whose name I've removed) of the A.S. "(Atmospheric Sciences") division, was basically a get-out-of-hell-free card for its bearer in the case of devastating nuclear attack.Read the rest at John's blog.
"In the event of a mass destruction attack on Fort Detrick with the resulting loss of Biological Warfare physical facilities, it is anticipated that it will be necessary to re-establish the BW activities at some other location."
"In order to accomplish this in the most expeditious manner, the availability of certain designated personnel...is deemed essential."
The "letter serves as notification that you have been selected as a member of this group which is to be evacuated" to get the biological weapons program up and running again. As you can read in the clickable version of the document, there are directions about what top do and when to do it. There is no mention of family. My read is that this is Endgame stuff, end of civilization as we know it, and that this was the Darwinian sweep of necessary people. Or is it Dr. Strangeloveian? I get the two confused.
Suffice to say that Fort Detrick, which had been established in 1943 (constructing and delivering anthrax bombs by 1944) as Camp Detrick, already had a fairly full career before it was up-named to "Fort" in 1956. It was the recognized home/collecting node for the American Chemical and Biological Weapons programs until Richard Nixon, of all people, disbanded that capacity at Detrick in 1969.
Two Minutes to Doomsday: "Get out of Hell Free" Card, 1957. Armageddon and All That...
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects