May Newsletter
Senate Committee Approves Manhattan Project Park Act
Google Hangout: The Manhattan Project: Our Next National Park?
Developing a National Traveling Exhibit
New Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"
New Oppenheimer Biography
Oak Ridge News
Quick Links


In honor of Memorial Day, we remember those who died while serving the United States of America. The Atomic Heritage Foundation gratefully remembers the men and women who have served, and continue to serve, our country.

American soldiers on D-Day, June 6, 1944
Senate Committee Approves
Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act 
The B Reactor at Hanford would be included in the new park

On May 16, 2013, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act, S. 507. The bill will now be sent to the floor for a vote, as yet unscheduled. The House version of the bill, H.R. 1208, was approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 24, 2013 and has been sent to the House floor for a vote, also currently unscheduled.


Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Maria Cantwell

Senator Maria Cantwell, one of the sponsors of the Senate bill, issued a press release after the vote, stating, "Today marks an important step towards preserving the Hanford B Reactor's place in American history - and allowing more visitors to see this historic site. Designating the B Reactor as part of a National Historical Park is a fitting honor for the groundbreaking engineering achievements and enormous sacrifices of the workers there."



Her press release goes on to note that in 2012, B Reactor tourism brought in $1.5 million for the Tri-Cities economy. A national historical park will bring greater publicity to the B Reactor and other Manhattan Project sites. With a projected ten-fold increase in visitors, the economic benefits to Hanford and other Manhattan Project communities should be significant.


With strong advocates and bipartisan support, the Atomic Heritage Foundation is optimistic that Congress will enact the legislation.


Google Hangout: The Manhattan Project: Our Next National Park? 

AHF President Cindy Kelly with Denise Kiernan and Manhattan Project veteran Rosemary Lane, who is featured in "The Girls of Atomic City"
On June 11 from 1-2 PM, AHF President Cindy Kelly win join The Girls of Atomic City bestselling author Denise Kiernan and National Parks Conservation Association Senior Vice President of Policy Ron Tipton in a Google Hangout On Air. The topic will be "The Manhattan Project: Our Next National Park?" 


The panel will discuss the history of the Manhattan Project; the thousands of people who worked at the sites under much secrecy and mystery; and how you can support efforts to protect these important places for future generations.


To find out more information about the Google Hangout and watch the event live, go here. We will also post a video of the discussion after the event on AHF's website.

Developing a National Traveling Exhibit

On May 15, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) Forum blog published an article by Atomic Heritage Foundation Program Manager Alexandra Levy on The Manhattan Project: Interpreting Controversial History. The article discusses AHF's goal of developing a national traveling exhibit on the Manhattan Project and the challenges entailed.

The Enola Gay on display today

AHF hopes to develop a national traveling exhibit in time for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the creation of the Manhattan Project in 2017. The exhibit would focus on themes such as the secrecy of the effort, the international race to create an atomic bomb, the innovations essential to the Manhattan Project, and the moral, cultural, political and economic legacy of the bomb for the world today.


This past February, AHF hosted a workshop funded by the National Science Foundation. Leading historians, humanities scholars, and museum and science education experts explored how to present the Manhattan Project. The participants emphasized the need to make the exhibition relevant and to provide diverse perspectives.

The Mars Rover, which is powered by plutonium

AHF is currently using the workshop's recommendations to begin work on the national traveling exhibit. With the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act likely to pass, we need to address how best to interpret the Manhattan Project and its legacy for the public.

New Additions to 
"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
We are continuing to add new oral histories to Voices of the Manhattan Project weekly, and to conduct more interviews. If you are, or know, a Manhattan Project veteran who would like be interviewed, please contact us.
James Forde was a lab assistant in the Nash Garage Building, where scientists worked on developing the gaseous diffusion process that was used in the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge. Seventeen year-old Forde was the lone African-American in the midst of many notable PhD scientists. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he immediately realized that his job cleaning pipes was related to the bomb.


Harry Kamack worked as a chemical engineer for the DuPont Company during the early 1940s, when he was transferred to Chicago to work at the Metallurgical Laboratory. In 1943, Kamack was transferred to Oak Ridge, where he continued work on developing processes for the separation of plutonium at the X-10 Graphite Reactor. In October of 1944, Kamack was transferred again to Hanford, where he continued research on the chemical separations process of the T-Plant.


Richard Shepard joined the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, working in the K-25 Plant as a member of the Special Engineer Detachment. With many family members serving overseas in the military, he explains his personal reaction to the end of the war. He discusses his later work in nuclear science, including the Bikini Test.


John Schacter was born in Austria and immigrated to the United States after Hitler came to power in Germany. He first worked on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, then was transferred to the K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge in 1943. He explains how the innovative design of the uranium enrichment process facilitated the development of nuclear reactors for commercial use.


New Oppenheimer Biography  


A new biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the head of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the Manhattan Project, was recently released. Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center by Ray Monk delves into Oppenheimer's work in physics to a greater degree than other recent biographies of Oppenheimer.


Richard Rhodes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Making of the Atomic Bomb and a member of AHF's board of directors, published an excellent review of A Life Inside in the Center in Newsweek. Although Rhodes lauds Monk's analysis of Oppenheimer's contributions to physics, he ultimately finds, "There's a faint whiff of condescension in [Monk's] portrait, and the real Oppenheimer, the man whom so many loved and admired, still somehow escapes him." 


The New York Times review also finds that Monk fails to convey Oppenheimer's magnetic personality, especially in comparison to the more personal biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin.


A complicated, enigmatic person, Oppenheimer will always present a challenge to those who try to capture his essence.


Oak Ridge News 


During the Manhattan Project, visiting dignitaries from J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi to Henry Stimson stayed at the Alexander Inn in Oak Ridge. The inn, which fell into ruin and was nearly demolished, will be restored and converted into a senior assisted living center. On May 25 and June 1, visitors thronged to the inn for the estate sale.


According to John Huotari of Oak Ridge Today, the items at the estate sale ranged "from the 1940s to the 1980s" and included "bed frames and Bibles, chairs and chandeliers, and dishes and dressers." The sale was organized by the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) in conjunction with Knox Heritage's Salvage Room, and the proceeds went to benefit ETPA. The event allowed visitors to view the inside of the historic inn one last time before renovations go into full swing.   


Oak Ridge's famous Secret City Festival will take place from June 21-22. To learn more about the events at the festival, which include historic tours, concerts, and arts and crafts, visit the Secret City Festival website. Be sure to stop by the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Alliance booth or AMSE to purchase a copy of AHF's Guide to the Manhattan Project in Tennessee! (You can also purchase the guidebook through AHF's online store and Amazon.)


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



Atomic Heritage Foundation