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Emergency Management Timeline

Emergency Management Timeline

To truly gain an understanding of the highs and lows of civil defense and its evolution into what is now known as emergency management, it is helpful to look back and see how the various agencies that have been assigned related functions have shifted from one department to another, been renamed, etc.  While within Tennessee, our agency has remained in one place and maintained a relatively stable mission, such is not the case at the federal level.  We've put together a time line of the various agencies that managed some aspect of civil defense or emergency management at the federal level.  


This timeline explores the various organizational entities that preceded the creation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1979.  Since FEMA's creation, most of the nation's emergency preparedness functions have remained intact within this one entity the entire period.  Note that many of these changes were simply in name only, or made only cosmetic changes to the function of organization of these groups.


Coordination of emergency military, civilian and industrial mobilization; and general preparedness planning


  • 1947 - 1949 - National Security Resources Board (independent entity)
  • 1949 - 1953 - NSRB, within the Executive Office of the President
  • 1950 - 1958 - Office of Defense Mobilization, Executive Office of the President
  • 1951 - 1958 - Defense Production Administration (War Department)
  • 1958 - Office of Defense and Civilian Mobilization, Exec. Office of the President
  • 1958 - 1961 - Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, Exec. Office of the President
  • 1961 - 1968 - Office of Emergency Planning, Executive Office of the President
  • 1968 - 1973 - Office of Emergency Preparedness, Executive Office of the President (EOP)
  • 1973 - 1975 - Office of Preparedness, General Services Administration
  • 1975 - 1979 - Federal Preparedness Agency, General Services Administration Development, operation and maintenance of emergency telecommunications systems (first CONELRAD, then EBS)
  • 1951 - 1953 - National Security Resources Board (independent entity)
  • 1951 - 1953 - Telecommunications Advisor to the President, Exec. Office of the President
  • 1953 - 1958 - Asst. Director for Telecommunications, Office of Defense Mobilization, EOP
  • 1958 - Asst. Director for Telecommunications, Office of Defense & Civilian Mobilization, EOP
  • 1958 - 1961 - Asst. Director for Telecommunications, Office of Civil & Defense Mobilization, EOP
  • 1961 - 1968 - Asst. Director for Telecommunications, Office of Emergency Planning, EOP
  • 1968 - 1970 - Asst. Director for Telecommunications, Office of Emergency Preparedness, EOP
  • 1970 - 1978 - Office of Telecommunications Policy, Executive Office of the President
  • 1978 - 1979 - Office of Science and Technology Policy, EOP (EBS oversight only) Administration of Civil Defense programs
  • 1950 - 1951 - Federal Civil Defense Administration, Executive Office of the President
  • 1951 - 1958 - Federal Civil Defense Administration (independent entity)
  • 1958 - Office of Defense and Civilian Mobilization, EOP
  • 1958 - 1961 - Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, EOP
  • 1961 - 1972 - Office of Civil Defense, Department of the Army
  • 1972 - 1979 - Defense Civil Preparedness Agency Administration of disaster assistance and insurance programs
  • 1953 - 1958 - Office of Defense Mobilization, Executive Office of the President
  • 1958 - Office of Defense and Civilian Mobilization, EOP
  • 1958 - 1961 - Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, EOP
  • 1961 - 1968 - Office of Emergency Planning, EOP
  • 1968 - 1973 - Office of Emergency Preparedness, EOP
  • 1973 - 1979 - Federal Disaster Assistance Administration, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
  • 1968 - 1979 - Federal Insurance Administration, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Administration of fire prevention and training programs
  • 1974 - 1978 - National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, Dept. of Commerce
  • 1974 - 1978 - National Academy of Fire Prevention and Control Dept. of Commerce
  • 1978 - 1979 - U. S. Fire Administration, Department of Commerce Consolidation of federal disaster assistance, emergency planning, fire and emergency management training, and insurance Programs
  • 1979 - E. O. 12127, March 31, 1979, created the Federal Emergency Management Agency

    One of the things many people remember about the "civil defense" era was the public fallout shelter signs that were posted on many buildings in just about every city in the country.  While these and the CD seal image were ubiquitous during the 1950s through 1970s, there are many posters, training manuals, advertisements, and other documents bearing images that, while many have seen them, many have not.

Special thanks to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency for this section