New Year Newsletter
2012 Accomplishments
2013 Initiatives
Manhattan Project Park Legislation
National Press on Manhattan Project Park
New Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Recent Interviews with Manhattan Project Veterans
Quick Links

Happy New Year! The Atomic Heritage Foundation wishes you the best for 2013. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the selection of Hanford as the site for plutonium production, the beginning of the Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge, and many other early Manhattan Project milestones. Thank you for joining us in recognizing and preserving this history!    
Los Alamos receiving the Army Navy "E" for Excellence award

2012 Accomplishments


Here are some highlights of 2012: 

  • Came close to securing passage of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act.
  • Received tremendous coverage supporting the Manhattan Project Park in the New York Times, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, as well as local media.
  • Received a National Science Foundation grant to host a workshop of experts on the Manhattan Project and museum interpretation, to be held in Washington, DC in February 2013.
  • In partnership with the Los Alamos Historical Society, launched a website featuring oral histories called Voices of the Manhattan Project.
  • Created Facebook and Twitter profiles, providing daily updates on Manhattan Project history, park legislation, and oral history news.
  • AHF's anthology The Manhattan Project was selected as Amazon's Kindle Book of the Day in June.
  • Published new editions of our guides to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico and Manhattan.

2013 Initiatives


The Atomic Heritage Foundation's plans for 2013 include: 

  • Promote passage of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act by working with the 113th Congress, Manhattan Project communities, National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and many others. 
  • Develop a comprehensive guidebook to Manhattan Project sites including the University of Chicago, University of California-Berkeley, Wendover, UT, Tinian, and other sites.
  • Capture more oral histories of Manhattan Project veterans and add or link hundreds of others to our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website.
  • Develop a plan for interpreting the Manhattan Project based on our National Science Foundation workshop.
  • Seek funds to create a national traveling exhibit on the Manhattan Project for the 75th anniversary in 2017.

To accomplish what we do, we rely on grants from the government, foundations, and donors like you. Many thanks to our many valuable supporters who contributed in 2012. Your donations are greatly appreciated!


To donate, please use our online store or send a check to 910 17th St., NW, Suite 408, Washington, DC 20006. As a tax-exempt public charity under IRS code 501(c)(3), your donation is fully tax deductible. Any size donation is welcome. We make a little go a long way.


Manhattan Project Park Legislation 


Although there was a chance that the 112th Congress would pass the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act in the lame duck session, the "fiscal cliff" overshadowed all other business. The 112th Congress passed only one national park bill, designating Pinnacles National Monument in California as the 59th national park. It was the poorest record concerning national park legislation of any Congress in 50 years.


Fortunately, the 113th Congress includes many strong supporters of the Manhattan Project Park. Representative Doc Hastings, the sponsor of the bill in the House, will remain as Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and has vowed to see the bill passed. In the Senate, Senators Maria Cantwell of Washington, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee will be on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, so the Manhattan Project sites will have strong representation on this key committee. 


We will continue to have regular conference calls with our allies here and around the Manhattan Project sites as we work with the new Congress! 


National Press on Manhattan Project Park 

The Pond Cabin at Los Alamos
Photo courtesy of Ellen McGehee, LANL

Congressional consideration of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act galvanized national interest in the history of the Manhattan Project. On December 3, 2012 the New York Times (NYT) published an article, Bid to Preserve Manhattan Project Sites in a Park Stirs Debate, on the proposed Park. The article focused on the importance of passing the legislation to preserve some of the properties and artifacts from the Manhattan Project.

NYT science reporter Bill Broad featured the Pond Cabin in Los Alamos, where Emilio Segrč researched the behavior of the recently discovered plutonium. Segrč's work at the Pond Cabin was critical to the design of the "Gadget" tested at Trinity Site and the first atomic bombs. In the article, Atomic Heritage Foundation President Cindy Kelly and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis express their support for the Park. Kelly explains, "It's a way to help educate the next generation." 

Norris Bradbury with the "Gadget" atomic bomb, used in the Trinity test at Alamogordo. Photo courtesy of LANL.

On December 7, The Boston Globe published a strong editorial urging Congress to pass the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act. On December 16, the Seattle Times featured an excellent op-ed by Clarence Moriwaki, president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association. His grandfather and several other family members were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. 


Moriwaki argued, "The Manhattan Project is an important chapter of American history, and I believe we should recount all parts of our heritage, even the painful moments. We cannot rewrite history - nor should we cast blame, guilt or shame. But we cannot sweep historic events under the rug either."  


Other articles on the legislation are summarized on AHF's website: National Press on MP Park Debate and National Support for Manhattan Project Park. We expect the press will continue to follow the issue with interest as the 113th Congress considers the Manhattan Project National Historical Park this year. 


New Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"

Larry O'Rourke's SAM Lab badge

AHF and the Los Alamos Historical Society are continuing to add oral histories to our Voices of the Manhattan Project website. The website currently features 30 oral histories, a small fraction of the oral histories we plan to add in the coming months. Since we launched "Voices of the Manhattan Project" in November, we've had 3,500 unique visitors to the website.

Among others, we plan to add the interviews conducted by Michael Vickio, the founder and president of the Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association (MPHPA). When Vickio passed away in 2005, the MPHPA's board of directors gave AHF the rights to the oral histories Vickio had collected. We have already added two interviews with Manhattan Project veteran Lawrence O'Rourke: Lawrence O'Rourke's First Interview and Lawrence O'Rourke's Second Interview.

Larry O'Rourke and friends at dinner


Lawrence S. O'Rourke began working on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University after he was called up from the Army Reserves in 1944. O'Rourke was among the first group of SEDs who worked at Columbia, where he helped research and develop the gaseous diffusion process for the separation of uranium. After nine months, O'Rourke's group moved from the Pupin Physics Lab to the Nash Garage Building, where they helped develop the barrier material that would be used at the K-25 plant in Oak Ridge. 


In 1945, O'Rourke was transferred to Oak Ridge and continued to work on research and development of a barrier material at K-25. O'Rourke also spent time at the Houdaille-Hershey Plant in Decatur, IL where he helped install and train people on how to test the barrier material. 

Keep checking "Voices of the Manhattan Project" frequently for new interviews. Also, please take our brief survey to give us feedback on how to improve the site. Thank you!  


Recent Interviews with Manhattan Project Veterans

Larry Litz's Los Alamos badge portrait


In addition to adding interviews AHF and LAHS have collected over the years to "Voices of the Manhattan Project," we are continuing to conduct new interviews of Manhattan Project veterans and their families. In December, AHF Program Manager Alexandra Levy interviewed three Manhattan Project veterans in Florida. Lawrence Litz helped cast the plutonium used in the Fat Man bomb, and also holds more than 40 patents. In his interview, he discussed his plutonium work and his impression of Los Alamos. He and his wife, Evelyne, were the first two people to see metallic plutonium.


In her interview, Evelyne talked about having a baby and raising a child at Los Alamos. She worked in health physics during the Manhattan Project, and also in the library. She and Larry were good friends with the Tucks, and lived next door to Richard Feynman for a time. She recalled taking the train with Larry and their puppy from Chicago to Lamy, NM. At the humble station at Lamy, they waited for hours until someone recognized Larry. She was captivated by the beauty of Los Alamos, and recalled crying when she left after the war's end.

The Fat Man bomb, after assembly on Tinian

Max Gittler, a New York native, was selected to go to Oak Ridge because of his engineering background. He and three other soldiers were chosen to regularly drive radioactive material from Oak Ridge to Santa Fe, Berkeley, and Chicago. For security reasons, they were not allowed into Los Alamos-they made their delivery in Santa Fe. They had to monitor the amount of radiation they received, and keep an eye on the package they were carrying, which weighed about two tons. During one trip, icy roads caused the truck to swerve and the package fell off the truck! But working together, the soldiers were able to get the package back on the truck and continue their journey. 


Max's story was published in the March 2011 Los Alamos Historical Society newsletter, Carrying Material for the Bombs. It's a captivating read.


We hope to have these new oral histories up on the Voices website within the next month, so keep checking for updates!


2013 promises to be another productive year with the NSF-funded workshop, plans to expand "Voices of the Manhattan Project," and many other projects to preserve and interpret this history. Most of all, we hope that the new Congress will find a way to enact the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act. 


Thank you for your interest in the Manhattan Project and support for our continuing efforts.



Atomic Heritage Foundation