July 2013 Newsletter
Manhattan Project National Historical Park Legislation Update
AHF Publishes Manhattan Project Workshop Report
Current Projects
Oral History Project Update
Get Well Soon, Dimas
New Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Quick Links

We have had a productive summer at the Atomic Heritage Foundations. Our outstanding interns, Owen Pagano, Emily Efland, and John Hayashi, have been of immense help in working on our oral history project, our new comprehensive guidebook, vignettes for the B Reactor, and more. 
Current and former AHF staff met up for a party in July
Manhattan Project National Historical Park Legislation Update

Senator Maria Cantwell and NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis

On July 25, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on "Funding the National Park System for the Next Century." The hearing was about about finding news ways to fund the National Park Service and its maintenance backlog. 

The Manhattan Project National Historical Act was highlighted as an important park to create, despite economic challenges. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), one of the bill's sponsors, stated, "I want to commemorate what happened at Hanford and various parts of what we've done across the country. I certainly am not going to have the attitude that we're not going to do any new park until the maintenance backlog is caught up." 
The B Reactor at Hanford with cask cars in front
In response to a question from Cantwell about preserving the B Reactor, National Parks Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said: "My theory on new units is that history doesn't stop just because you have an economic challenge...The B Reactor is a perfect example of that, in that it tells an incredibly important story about this country and its leadership and the development of the atomic bomb and its role in ending World War II."
To watch the full video of the hearing, click here.
After this week, the House and Senate will be in recess until September 9. The Senate Committee staffers are currently working to determine the best vehicle for passing the Manhattan Project Park act, and they are making good progress. We hope the Senate will move soon after they return from recess in September. Stay tuned!

AHF Publishes Manhattan Project 

Workshop Report

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, the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) hosted a workshop in Washington, DC: "Transforming the Relationship between Science and Society: Interpreting the Manhattan Project." The workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation, and brought together historians, museum experts, and representatives of the National Park Service, Department of Energy and Manhattan Project museums from across the country.

On July 26, 2013, AHF published a report summarizing the workshop's discussions and recommendations. The workshop probed a broad range of topics such as the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan; the Cold War and the national security state; and scientific responsibility. A focus was how to create engaging exhibits that combine multiple disciplines from science and engineering to history, politics and sociology. 

Women going to work at Y-12. The stories of women workers would be included in a national traveling exhibit.

Creating an exhibit of such a controversial event as dropping the world's first atomic bombs on Japan will not be easy, the participants agreed. While public interest in these momentous developments remains high, appreciation of the facts and their complexity is seriously lacking. No exhibition to date has treated the Manhattan Project comprehensively. Everyone agreed that such an exhibit is long overdue.


To download AHF's report, prepared by Carla Borden and designed by AHF, please click here. To view videos of the discussions at the workshop, please visit AHF's YouTube page.  

Current Projects   

The Enola Gay hangar at Wendover, which will be included in the new comprehensive guidebook
AHF has been working on several exciting new initiatives this summer. With the help of our hardworking interns, Owen Pagano, Emily Efland, and John Hayashi, our current projects include:
  • Sanger interviews: Working in partnership with author Steve L. Sanger to add the interviews from his book, "Working on the Bomb," to Voices of the Manhattan Project. All of the transcripts have been added to the website, and we are exploring working with the University of Washington to digitize and add the audio from the interviews.
  • Groueff interviews: Collaborating with the Boston University Howard Gotlieb Archives to explore the possibility of adding interviews conducted by Stephane Groueff in the 1960s to the "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website. Groueff interviewed about 80 top Manhattan Project scientists and personnel, including General Leslie Groves, J. Robert Oppenheimer, George Kistiakowsky, and Hans Bethe. The transcripts and cassettes are now stored in the BU Archives. We are working with BU officials to make the interviews available on our website. They are a terrific resource. The tapes of General Groves are so clear, it seems as if he is having a conversation with you.  
  • Comprehensive guidebook: Our guides to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington, and Manhattan have garnered interest from around the country. We are now working on creating a comprehensive guidebook for Manhattan Project sites. In addition to the original four sites, the new guidebook will add Wendover, UT; Tinian Island; Washington, DC; Berkeley, CA; Princeton, NJ; Dayton, OH; Decatur, IL; Chicago, IL; Grand Junction, CO; Boston, MA and possibly others. The guidebook will be in the same format as our previous guidebooks: full color and with plenty of excerpts from first-hand accounts. We hope to publish the new guidebook in both print and e-book form later this year.
  • Vignettes for the B Reactor: Thanks to generous grants from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust and the City of Richland, AHF is developing more vignettes for the B Reactor that can be viewed or listened to on audio/visual handsets. Establishing a national historical park at Hanford will undoubtedly increase tourism, and the new vignettes and handsets will be a useful addition for tours at the B Reactor and elsewhere.

Oral History Project Update



Voices of the Manhattan Project, a website created by the Atomic Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS), has garnered significant attention and traffic since its launch in November 2012. The website averages around 2,000 hits a month, and some of the interviews have been watched hundreds of times.


The website now features about 120 interviews with Manhattan Project veterans and their families. The interviews include those done by AHF; LAHS; Michael Vickio, the late founder and head of the Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association; and Steve L. Sanger, author of Working on the Bomb. AHF has about 70 more interviews that require some editing before being added to the website, and LAHS has a similar number that will eventually be uploaded. We are also exploring the possibility of adding oral histories from more collections, including the Groueff collection, to the website.


We are working on conducting more interviews with Manhattan Project veterans and their families. If you are, or know, a Manhattan Project veteran who would like to be interviewed, please contact us. AHF staff plan to travel around the country interviewing veterans over the next few months, visiting Santa Fe, NM; Palo Alto, CA; Oak Ridge, TN; St. Louis, MO; Boston, MA; Boca Raton, FL and hopefully more.


Get Well Soon, Dimas

Dimas Chavez was a child in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. In his terrific oral history, he recalls his struggle to learn English, and the support of his parents and members of the Los Alamos community to help him become fluent. He lived in a small house by Bathtub Row, and sold newspapers to J. Robert Oppenheimer. He went on to work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory and for the CIA. We featured his story on our website earlier in July in Children of the Manhattan Project.


We are very sad to report that in a freak accident Dimas was struck by a car that ran into a Sam's Club in Gaithersburg, MD where he was shopping on July 23. Reports are that Dimas had one of his legs partially amputated. He is now in stable condition, resting comfortably at the University of Maryland hospital in Baltimore. We wish him a speedy recovery.


If you want to send him a card, his current address at the hospital is:


Mr. Dimas M. Chavez

3DT Room 9

University of Maryland Medical Center

22 South Greene Street

Baltimore, MD 21201


New Additions to 

Voices of the Manhattan Project


Ray Stein: A member of the Special Engineer Detachment, Ray Stein participated in the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, working at the Y-12 Plant. He tells the story of security and secrecy during the project. At Y-12, he and his fellow SED members donned civilian clothes and were told to keep an eye out for possible saboteurs or spies.


Leona Woods Marshall: Leona Woods was 23 in 1942, the only woman present when Enrico Fermi's nuclear pile at the University of Chicago went critical and into the history books. She moved to Hanford in 1944 with her husband, fellow physicist John Marshall. Dr. Woods Marshall was one of the few women scientists in the Manhattan Project and probably the most well known. Even so, during an interview she laughed off questions about what it was like to be so distinctive. She did mention DuPont had been thoughtful enough to provide her with a private bathroom at the reactor building.


Norman Hilberry: Physicist Norman Hilberry was Arthur H. Compton's right-hand man at the Metallurgical Project, the associate director who handled administrative chores. He had previously served as a professor at NYU, and went to Chicago to work with Compton. Later in the war, he would often go back and forth from Chicago to his home in New York.


Herbert L. Anderson: Herbert Anderson was completing his graduate studies in physics in 1939 at Columbia University when he began a close scientific and personal association with Enrico Fermi that was to continue until Fermi's death in 1954. Anderson assisted Fermi in early research on nuclear fission, including Fermi's direction of the first chain reaction. Early in 1939 at Columbia, Anderson performed the experiment which resulted in the first observa­tion of fission in the United States. Anderson worked closely with Fermi at the Argonne Forest near Chicago on design features of the Hanford reactors.



Nukemap 3D showing the cloud from a 10 kiloton blast on mid-town Manhattan, as viewed from New York harbor

Alex Wellerstein is associate historian at Center for the History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland. He runs the popular blog Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog, publishing articles on the history of the Manhattan Project and its legacy for the general public. (We suggest you bookmark the site and check it regularly!)


Alex was concerned that people today either underestimate or overestimate the impact of detonating an atomic bomb. He said that people either think that one bomb could destroy the world, or have trouble understanding that even a small bomb could devastate an entire city. To that end, Alex created Nukemap, and launched two incredibly detailed new Nukemaps on July 22.


Using Nukemap, you can select a city and kind of nuclear bomb and "detonate" it. Nukemap 2.0 will give you estimated deaths and casualties, radioactive fallout, and cultural and medical services destroyed. Nukemap 3D creates a mushroom cloud in Google Earth, to give you a sense of the enormity of the destruction and what the cloud would look like at various distances, from the ground right in front of the detonation to outer space.


Alex's Nukemaps are a great resource for teachers, students, and anybody who is interested in understanding the impact of a nuclear explosion. His Nukemaps represent a real contribution to educating the public about the bomb.


We are gratified by the positive feedback we have received for our work. If you would like to support our efforts to preserve this history and promote a better understanding of its legacy for science and society, please consider making a contribution.



Atomic Heritage Foundation