Atomic Heritage Foundation
910 17th St. NW Suite 408
Washington, DC 20006
October 2013
2013 is going by so fast! It's hard to believe there are only two months left in the year. By the end of year, we plan to submit several grant applications, write our annual report, conduct more interviews with Manhattan Project veterans, and make progress with our other projects.

It's not too early to start thinking about holiday presents, and our guides to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, Manhattan, Tennessee, and Washington State make great gifts! We'll even gift-wrap them for you if you request it!


In This Issue

Clay & Dorothy Perkins Donate Bethe House to LAHS

John Ruminer handing the key to the Bethe House to Clay. Photo courtesy of LAHS.

In October, the Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS) announced that it had received an extremely generous gift from Clay and Dorothy Perkins: $530,000 to purchase and restore the Hans Bethe House on Bathtub Row. The Bethe House (1350 Bathtub Row) is next door to the Oppenheimer House, which was donated to the LAHS by Helene and Gerry Suydam under a living trust agreement. Nobel Laureates Hans Bethe and Edwin McMillan both lived in the house during the Manhattan Project.


LAHS will use the Bethe House to interpret the history of Los Alamos during the Cold War. The new interpretative center will be named the Harold Agnew Cold War Museum in honor of Harold Agnew, the Manhattan Project veteran and the third director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Director (1970-1979) who passed away on September 29, 2013. Agnew and Perkins were good friends. When Perkins first told Agnew of his forthcoming donation, Agnew responded laconically. But upon seeing a photograph of the Bethe House, he exclaimed, ""I stayed there a lot!" The museum will be a terrific way to honor Agnew and the people who worked at Los Alamos during the Cold War. 

Clay Perkins, with wife Dorothy, receiving a small statue of Oppenheimer to thank him for the donation. 
Photo courtesy of LAHS.


Clay Perkins has been fascinated by the Manhattan Project since he was a child. He worked in space physics, and then went into real estate development. He collects Manhattan Project memorabilia, including the safety plugs used in the Little Boy bomb aboard the Enola Gay. He recently acquired a full-scale model of the Fat Man bomb.


Clay and Dorothy have been staunch supporters of the preservation of the Manhattan Project and have generously supported AHF's work. Last year, the Perkins contributed to an 8' x 8' scale model of the 100-B area at Hanford with replicas of dozens of facilities. A second exhibit recreates the interior of the B reactor with original graphite blocks, process tubes and control rods. Through various projects and now the Bethe House, Clay and Dorothy have become leading philanthropists of Manhattan Project. We can't thank them enough for their spirited generosity.   


For more on the Bethe House, check out this Albuquerque Journal article. For photos with views inside the house, visit the Los Alamos Daily Post


Denise Kiernan Joins AHF's Board of Directors


We are pleased to announce that Denise Kiernan has joined the Atomic Heritage Foundation's Board of Directors. Kiernan has worked as a journalist and producer. She is best known for The Girls of Atomic City, which came out in March 2013 and immediately shot to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list - and stayed there. 


The Girls of Atomic City tells the story of the women who worked at Oak Ridge on the Manhattan Project. Kiernan conducted extensive archival research and interviews with dozens of women when writing the book. She has been a vocal supporter of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and preserving this history for future generations. She has appeared on the Daily Show and NPR to talk about her book and the women who worked on the Manhattan Project.


Denise joins AHF President Cindy Kelly, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Richard Rhodes, and former Hanford site manager John Wagoner on the board of directors. We delighted to add such an articulate and talented author to the board!


Legislative Update

Bill Wilcox, Steve Goodpasture, and D. Ray Smith (2007)

With the government shutdown, there hasn't been much action on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act. In June, the House passed its bill, HR 1208, as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). However, the Senate Armed Services Committee will probably not take up the NDAA until December. This gives the Senate Energy and Natural Resources time to decide on a strategy for moving forward on its bill, S. 507, perhaps as part of a small package of public land bills or as an amendment to the NDAA. We will continue to work with the local communities, the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Energy Communities Alliance to urge Congress to establish the park, one way or another.


Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) spoke on the Senate floor on October 30 to honor nuclear program workers for the National Day of Remembrance. He noted, "They weren't serving in the heat of battle, but in the laboratory-handling materials on a daily basis that ranged from benign to toxic and highly radioactive."

Senator Lamar Alexander


Sen. Alexander also paid tribute to our friend Bill Wilcox, Manhattan Project veteran and historian of the City of Oak, who passed away on September 2. Senator Alexander stated, "I want to specifically remember Bill Wilcox for his service to our country and passion for preserving Oak Ridge history." He went on to quote from the interview AHF President Cindy Kelly conducted with Bill now on the "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website, which can be viewed here


To read Senator Alexander's full statement commemorating Bill and his fellow nuclear workers, please visit Oak Ridge Today.


Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating Women in Science


October 15 is Ada Lovelace Day, which commemorates the achievements of women scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Many women worked on the Manhattan Project. Some worked in the production facilities as technicians, monitoring for leaks or adjusting the controls of the Calutrons at Oak Ridge; a small number of women were scientists involved at the highest levels of the project. Here are some excerpts from "Voices of the Manhattan Project" interviews with women who were involved on various aspects of the project. For further information, see Ruth Howes and Catherine Herzenberg's book about women scientists in the Manhattan Project, Their Day in the Sun (1999).


Anne McKusick (Oak Ridge): When I got to Oak Ridge, it was perhaps not surprising that there were no girls who were physicists. I remember somebody saying to me once, "You consider that you're a girl who happens to be a physicist, or a physicist who happens to be a girl?" It was just that women weren't thought to be capable of learning the subject, or thought that it was strictly a man's field at that time.


Lilli Hornig (Los Alamos): I had a job in the chemistry department doing what was called "fundamental wet research," which involved working with plutonium, determining the solubility of various plutonium salts. There was essentially nothing known about plutonium chemistry at the time. There was one other woman in the division. She and I worked together and we had our little cubby hole and did our little procedures and put them under the Geiger counter. It wasn't terribly inspiring and nobody actually really spoke to us.


We clunked along there for a couple months. And then they got the first results from Hanford with the bad news about plutonium-240, which was much more active than 239. And the first response was to fire both of us instantly. And I complained a bit about that. They were worried obviously about reproductive damage. I tried delicately to point out that they might be more susceptible than I was; that didn't go over well.


Colleen Black (Oak Ridge): There were many women involved. You know, the men had been drafted. There was a manpower shortage. So the women worked. There was no problem getting a job. In those days there were not any women engineers that I knew of, or any chemists, or physicists. The women usually were educated: home economics majors, teachers, nurses. And they got jobs readily. And the others, they would train you. 


Recent Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"


Roy Glauber was just 18 years old when he was selected to leave his studies at Harvard to join the work of the Los Alamos Laboratory on the Manhattan Project. Glauber worked in the theoretical division under Hans Bethe, and talks about Edward Teller, Richard Feynman, Stanislaus Ulam, and other luminaries. Glauber went on to become a leader in physics, winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005 for his work on quantum optics.



Ellen Bradbury Reid moved to Los Alamos in the summer of 1944 when her father was hired by Norris Bradbury to work in the high explosives division. Reid recalls what it was like growing up as a child at Los Alamos and shares stories about her adventures in the Los Alamos hills with her younger brother. She also shares memories of attending school in Los Alamos and discusses the diversity of the student body. Reid recalls some of her encounters with famous scientists working on the atomic bomb, including J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller.


Irenee du Pont, Jr. is a member of the storied du Pont family and the son of the President (1919 to 1925) of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, which played a crucial role in the Manhattan Project and designed and built the Hanford Manhattan Project facilities, including the B Reactor. Du Pont's second oldest sister, Margaretta, married Crawford Greenewalt, a famous Manhattan Project leader and chemical engineer who served as liaison between the Met Lab physicists and the DuPont engineers working on the B Reactor. Du Pont discusses how Greenewalt first became involved with his sister and his family, and recounts an interesting story about his father and the secrecy of the Manhattan Project.


Marilyn Hanna was born on a farm in Spencer, South Dakota, and was trained as a clerk typist. She worked for the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge and later for the Security and Patent divisions in Washington, DC. She remembers meeting General Leslie Groves and Glenn Seaborg, and an accidental meeting with Admiral Hyman Rickover while stuck in traffic, which resulted in Rickover offering her and her friends doughnuts.


Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween from the Atomic Heritage Foundation! It's not every day you see a periodic table made of pumpkins! (Yes, we know the actinides are missing.) We're not sure where this photo came from - it's been floating around the internet for the past few days - but we think it's really cool!


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


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