Jewels of the Desert is one of the first studies of material culture of a Cold War military installation. In 1994, during the construction of a new commissary building at White Sands Missile Range, a previously unknown dump was encountered. The artifacts from this dump, possibly the earliest on White Sands Proving Ground (now known as White Sands Missile Range), provide us with insight into the daily lives of the soldiers and scientists working on the V-2 missile program. Many of the artifacts relate to the personal lives of these men, stationed in temporary quarters in the desert of southern New Mexico. Dates on various bottles indicate the dump was in use from July 1945 to 1947.
Jewels of the Desert provides the reader with a brief history of White Sands Proving Ground, a photographic and descriptive inventory of diagnostic artifacts, and an interpretation of daily life of personnel at the post. A companion volume, From Barren Desert to Thriving Community: A Social History of White Sands Missile Range, 1945- 1954 (William B. Boehm 1997), documents the development of White Sands Proving Ground as a community in addition to a test facility for missiles.
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