February Newsletter
Senator Wyden Pledges Support for Manhattan Project Park
NSF Workshop Generates Lively Discussion
AHF to Record More Oral Histories
New Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"
"The Manhattan Project" Snapped Up
March Manhattan Project Events
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Thanks to our successful workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation, "Transforming the Relationship between Science and Society: Interpreting the Manhattan Project," the Atomic Heritage Foundation is one step closer to developing a national traveling exhibit, a long-term goal. Working with leading museum experts and scholars, our goal is to have an exhibit ready in 2017, the 75th anniversary of the Manhattan Project. For more, see the story below.
A billboard in Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project. Secrecy and the rise of the national security state would be one of the subjects tackled in a traveling exhibit.

Senator Wyden Pledges Support for 

Manhattan Project National Historical Park


Senator Wyden in front of the face of the B Reactor. Photo courtesy of the Department of Energy at Hanford.


On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, Senator Ron Wyden (D-

OR), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, visited the B Reactor at Hanford. B Reactor Tour Manager Russ Fabre gave Wyden and his staff a guided tour, explaining the science and history behind the historic B Reactor, which produced plutonium for the Manhattan Project's atomic bombs.


Wyden pledged support for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act. As the bill must move through his committee to the full Senate, his support is crucial. Wyden explained that Hanford, and the other Manhattan Project sites in Tennessee and New Mexico, "need to be preserved so future generations understand what went on here." Wyden noted, "The last Congress was the first in decades to not pass legislation to protect our special places." He vowed, "I'm going to work very closely with Chairman Hastings [of the House Committee on Natural Resources] to change that."


Wyden's father, Peter Wyden, was a historian and author of "Day One: Before Hiroshima and After" (Simon & Schuster, 1984). His father's influence was evident in Wyden's statement that "There is an old saying that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." 

The B Reactor at Hanford
With Senators Wyden, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, Representative Hastings and members of the Tennessee and New Mexico delegations strongly supporting the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act, we continue to be optimistic that the 113th Congress will pass the legislation.


The Tri-City Herald published an article on the visit, "Wyden backs Manhattan Project National Historical Park." Click here to view photos of Wyden's visit on the U.S. Department of Energy at Hanford's Facebook page. 


NSF Workshop Generates Lively Discussion

AMSE Deputy Director Ken Mayes, author Andrew Brown, AHF President Cindy Kelly, and historian J. Samuel Walker at the workshop

On February 14-15, 2013, AHF hosted a workshop funded by the National Science Foundation, "Transforming the Relationship between Science and Society: Interpreting the Manhattan Project." The workshop featured humanities and informal science learning experts as well as representatives from Manhattan Project museums around the country. The National Park Service also participated in the workshop. Stephanie Toothman, NPS Associate Director for Cultural Resources, and Julia Washburn, NPS Associate Director for Interpretation and Education, spoke to the participants about interpreting controversial history.

AHF President Cindy Kelly, author Richard Rhodes, and J. Shipley Newlin of the Science Museum of Minnesota


The goal of the workshop was to discuss the impact of science on society using the Manhattan Project and its legacy as a case study. Thanks to excellent presentations by the participants and the spirited discussions that ensued, we have a clearer idea of the issues and perspectives that a national traveling exhibit should address. 


We will be uploading the video of the presentations delivered at the workshop to our YouTube page in the next few weeks, and will also make the transcript of theworkshop available. A report that distills the major recommendations and next steps will be available in June.


AHF to Record More Oral Histories

Physicists John Dunning, Enrico Fermi, and Dana P. Mitchell by the Columbia cyclotron. Photo courtesy of the AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives.


The Atomic Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce a $50,000 grant awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for "Preserving the Manhattan Project in Manhattan." Among other things, the grant funds are to take the oral histories of men and women who worked on the Manhattan Project in Manhattan.


If you are, or know, a Manhattan Project veteran who would like to be interviewed, especially one who worked in New York City, please contact our office at 202-293-0045 or  info@atomicheritage.org. 



Our tentative interview schedule is as follows:


March 28: Wyomissing, PA, to interview veterans including Lawrence O'Rourke, who worked on the gaseous diffusion method at the Nash Garage Building laboratory run by Columbia University. O'Rourke had previously conducted phone interviews with Michael Vickio of the Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association, which can be listened to on "Voices of the Manhattan Project." 

James Forde's ID from CBS, after the war.

April: Raleigh, NC, to interview veterans including James Forde, who was seventeen years old and the sole African-American working on the gaseous diffusion process in the Nash Garage Building.


April or May: Oak Ridge, TN, to interview veterans including William Tewes, who was a member of the SED and worked for Columbia University.


We hope to capture more oral histories of Manhattan Project veterans who worked in other sites as well. On March 24, in Delray, Florida, Cindy Kelly will interview James Schoke, who worked as a nuclear instrument specialist in the Manhattan Project and went on to become a pioneer in the nucleonics industry. We are currently applying for further grants to allow us to record more oral histories of Manhattan Project veterans nationwide and to support our work on "Voices of the Manhattan Project."


New Additions to 
"Voices of the Manhattan Project"

We added several terrific oral histories to "Voices of the Manhattan Project" last month.


Max Gittler and three other soldiers had the job of driving radioactive material from Oak Ridge to other Manhattan Project sites around the country, including Dayton, Chicago, Santa Fe (they were not allowed into Los Alamos), and the University of California-Berkeley. Although the radioactive material was encased in a small lead pot, it weighed nearly three thousand pounds. Gittler and the soldiers had to take turns driving in the truck with the material, so they would not be exposed to the radiation for too long.


Harris Harold Levee was in the Special Engineering Detachment at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. He descibes Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard as "not two peas in a pod, one was a pea and one was a string bean." Levee's assignments included ensuring strict secrecy at the laboratory. Levee later worked on the construction of nuclear submarines. 

Evelyne Litz worked in health physics and as a librarian during the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. She was the second person, after her husband Lawrence Litz, to see metallic plutonium. She recalls the captivating beauty of Los Alamos; having and raising a daughter in the secret city; and the somber mood of the scientists of Los Alamos after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan.


Lawrence Litz was a young physicist when he began working on radioactivity at the Met Lab. From there he was transferred to Los Alamos, where he worked on casting the plutonium hemispheres for the atomic bombs and became the first person to see metallic plutonium. He recalls the twenty-four-hour shift he pulled to cast two more plutonium hemispheres in case a third atomic bomb was needed to force the Japanese to surrender.


"The Manhattan Project" Snapped Up


Our publisher, Black Dog & Leventhal, recently informed us that the e-book version of our anthology, The Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of Its Creators, Eyewitnesses, and Historians, sold 11,000 copies between April 1 and September 30, 2012! 


We are very pleased that such a wide audience is interested in this history. The Manhattan Project, first published in 2007, collects reflections of Manhattan Project participants, along with seminal documents and pieces by leading historians and interpreters of the subject.


The Manhattan Project is available for purchase on Amazon.com or through our online store.


March Manhattan Project Events   

British Prime Minister Clement Atlee, President Truman, and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin at the 1945 Potsdam Conference.

Denise Kiernan, author of The Girls of Atomic City on the women who worked at Oak Ridge on the Manhattan Project, will be speaking around the country about her book. For those in the DC area, she will discuss her book at the National Archives at 12 pm on March 13. She will be giving a talk at AMSE in Oak Ridge on March 19 at 6 pm. We look forward to reading her book!


Clifton Truman Daniel, President Harry Truman's grandson, will deliver a talk on March 28 at 7 pm at the New Hope Center in Oak Ridge. Daniel will talk about his memories of his famous grandfather and his impressions of how President Truman felt regarding his decision to use the atomic bomb to end World War II. For more information and to purchase tickets to the event, sponsored by the Oak Ridge Heritage & Preservation Association, please click here.


Thank you for your interest in the Manhattan Project and contributing to our efforts.



Atomic Heritage Foundation