Cold War (1947-1991)

Where can I find information about the Cold War?

Senior Secondary

(Years 11-13)

Colour photo from the Berlin Wall Memorial in Germany. It shows a remaining section of the wall and a display explaining the history in German and English.

Image: Berlin Wall monument by Tom Magliery on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 1/08/22


Following World War Two, the period from 1945 until the 1991 was known as the Cold War. This was an international struggle for power between communist nations lead by the Soviet Union and China and Western powers lead by the United States. Although no fighting took place, it was a time of tension and mistrust and the growth of nuclear weapons increased the threat of nuclear war.

Significant events

Here are some important events in the Cold War:

  • Truman Doctrine (1947)

  • Marshall Plan (1947)

  • Berlin Blockade (1948)

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (1949)

  • Korean War (1950)

  • ANZUS Treaty (1951)

  • SEATO (1954)

  • The Suez Crisis (1956)

  • Eisenhower Doctrine (1957)

  • Berlin Wall (1961-1989)

  • The Space Race (1957-1969)

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)

  • Vietnam War (1957-1975)

Epic resources

EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

Britannica School Secondary

This is the online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica for secondary school students. It gives a good overview of the Cold War.

  • Search for 'Cold War'.

  • Select Cold War to read about the Origins of the Cold War, The struggle between superpowers and Toward a new world order.

  • See also Primary Sources & E-Books and Web's Best Sites for related resources.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg Cold War. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

World History (Gale in Context)

This website has information on a wide range of international history topics including the Cold War.

  • Select Browse Topics to browse for Cold War.

  • Resources are separated into Reference, Videos, Biographies, Primary sources, Audio and more.

  • Or do a search for 'Cold War' or for the events listed above eg Cuban missile crisis.

Global issues (Gale in Context)

This website gives a range of points of view on global issues including the Cold War.

  • Search for 'Cold War 1945 -1991' or search for the events listed above.

  • Choose viewpoints for current and past points of view.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

General websites

The websites below will explain more about the events listed above and the development and progress of the Cold War.

BBC Bitesize

This is a section of the official website of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Bitesize has online support for secondary students in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

  • Scroll down the page to View all subjects.

  • Select History and then Higher History.

  • Under the topic Europe and World there is a link to The Cold War.

  • Select one of the learner guides to find information about different topics.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About the BBC link on this website. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Imperial War Museums

This site is based on five museums in the UK and has general information on the Cold War from a British perspective.

  • Select menu from the top left.

  • Then choose 'stories'.

  • Look down the page for the heading Cold War.

  • To see all the information go to Read more below the tiles.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About IWM link on this website. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free to use site. It offers self guided learning resources for all ages on math, science, computers, history, economics etc. It has many different courses that include information about the Cold War. To find a course:

  • go to Courses

  • under Arts & humanities select either AP US History or World history, and

  • browse the course summary for the time period between 1947-1991 to discover Cold War lessons such as The Cold War from 1945 - 1980 or The Cold War.

Spartacus Educational

The information on this website is written by John Simkin, a teacher in England. He created this website to make information available to those students around the world who couldn't afford books.

  • Choose the tab American history.

  • Then select 'Cold War' from the list.

  • See the links to information about Cold War Issues, Events & Organisations including a Timeline.

  • You can also read about Political and Military Figures in the Cold War eg Mikhail Gorbachev.

Tips: Some websites have advertisements (or ads) which ask us to buy something or tell us to ‘click here’. It’s best to ignore these ads and focus on the information we’re looking for.

New Zealand sites

New Zealand participated in the Cold War and along with other Western powers, sent troops to the Korean, Malayan and Vietnam wars. New Zealand also took a strong anti nuclear stance which affected foreign relations. The websites below will give you information on New Zealand's involvement.

Te Ara: The encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

To find the story about the Cold War:

  • choose Stories A-Z

  • go to C, and

  • look down the list for Cold War.

NZ History

NZHistory is another great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website also belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Choose Topics.

  • Then New Zealand at War and then Post Second World War.

  • Select the article The Cold War.

Tips: We like sites like Te Ara and NZ History because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.


DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites. It’s an easy way of searching online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once, and has lots of primary sources.

  • Use the search bar to find information about the Cold War.

  • The results are grouped by the type of information, like images, videos, newspapers, articles and research papers.

Tips: Search for "Cold War" in speech marks to find results containing that phrase.


Your school library and local public library may have books about the Cold War. Here are some suggestions:

SCIS no: 1970175

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