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February 2014 


Our new "Ranger in Your Pocket" series will debut with a B Reactor tour next month. The program will feature vignettes drawn from our oral history collection, with Hanford scientists, engineers, and workers explaining work and life at Hanford during the Manhattan Project. Visitors at the reactor can take a self-guided tour with their smartphones and people around the world can learn about the B Reactor on the "Ranger in Your Pocket" website. Coming soon!
In This Issue
Legislative Update

On February 27, representatives from the Atomic Heritage Foundation, Energy Communities Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, and National Trust for Historic Preservation met with Congressional staff to discuss the next steps for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park legislation. Representative Doc Hastings, who has championed the bill in the House, recently announced that he will be retiring and is determined to get the bill through before the end of this Congress in 2014.


The Manhattan Project coalition met with Todd Young of the House Committee on Natural Resources and David Brooks of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Last year, the bill was passed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the House but was not included in the Senate version. This year, the most promising strategy for the park legislation appears to be as an amendment to the NDAA. As many leading Senators have also pledged to see the park established, AHF and its partners are guardedly optimistic that the House and Senate can work out an agreement to make this happen in 2014.


AHF President Cindy Kelly Addresses APS Conference
Michele Gerber, Olivia Fermi, Ruth Howes,
Cindy Kelly, and Denise Kiernan at the conference

On March 3, AHF President Cindy Kelly was part of a three-hour session, "Women and the Manhattan Project," at the American Physical Society meeting in Denver, CO. Kelly presented AHF's efforts to preserve the historic properties of the Manhattan Project, publish hundreds of oral histories on the "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website, and create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. 


In addition to Kelly, the "Women and the Manhattan" session featured Denise Kiernan, author of The Girls of Atomic City; Michele Gerber, historian and author of On the Homefront; Ruth Howes, physicist and author of Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project; and Olivia Fermi, granddaughter of Enrico Fermi and author of Then and Now: Women Respond to the Manhattan Project - An Illustrated Talk. The presentations were recorded by the APS and an unedited version is on the website here. The "Women and the Manhattan Project" panel begins about 45 minutes in. 


Alexander Inn Nominated for Preservation Award
Knox Heritage and East Tennessee Preservation Alliance have nominated Oak Ridge's Alexander Inn for the 2014 The National Trust/Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Award for Federal Partnerships in Historic Preservation.


During the Manhattan Project, many top Manhattan Project scientists and personnel, including General Leslie Groves, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Enrico Fermi, stayed at the guest house. The inn has been rescued after being abandoned nearly a decade ago and is currently being restored and renovated. The Family Pride Corporation of Loudon, TN is undertaking a $5.5 million project to convert the property into a senior assisted living center.


The Atomic Heritage Foundation will join Governor Bill Haslam in submitting a letter to support the award nomination. We hope the National Trust will recognize the tremendous work of Knox Heritage and the East Tennessee Preservation to preserve this historic treasure. For more information, visit Oak Ridge Today's article Gov. Haslam supports national preservation award for Alexander Inn.

"The Wives of Los Alamos" Book Review

TaraShea Nesbit's The Wives of Los Alamos tells the collective story of the women who moved to Los Alamos to be with their scientist husbands during the Manhattan Project. Collective story, that is, because the book is written in a distinct and novel manner: the first person plural. "Our husbands joined us in the kitchen and said, We are going to the desert, and we had no choice except to say, Oh my! as if this sounded like great fun. Where? we asked, and no one answered."


While this style choice might seem to be limiting, Nesbit is able to get across the range of emotions and personalities that made up the wives of Los Alamos. Drawn from real stories - including a few that came from AHF's Voices of the Manhattan Project oral history website - The Wives of Los Alamos is a lyrical and realistic glimpse into the complicated and secretive life of the women who accompanied their husbands to an unknown town to work on an unknown project.


Nesbit writes beautifully, and she is able to bring individual personalities into the mix of her collective narrator. Some women love Los Alamos, some hate it. Some wives are happy to be in the dark about what their husbands are working on, while others do their best to find out what the great secret is. Nesbit explores the women's connection with their Pueblo Indian maids and the young Army soldiers on the base. The Wives of Los Alamos does an excellent job of weaving together the stories of many different communities and age groups, and the ways in which the project to build the bomb upended their lives.


While often overlooked by historians, Nesbit conveys the many ways in which the wives of Los Alamos contributed as part of the project and in establishing a community for their families. 


AHF Receives Oppenheimer Statue Donation

Philanthropists Clay and Dorothy Perkins sent the Atomic Heritage Foundation a surprise gift in February - a maquette of Susanne Vertel's wonderful Oppenheimer statue in Los Alamos. Clay and Dorothy received one as a token of appreciation after purchasing and donating the Hans Bethe House on Bathtub Row to the Los Alamos Historical Society. 


We are delighted to have Oppie watch over us while we work! Many thanks to Clay and Dorothy for this thoughtful gift. 


If you want one of your own, you can purchase a maquette of either Oppenheimer or General Groves through the Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS). Half of the costs are tax-deductible and will help support LAHS's efforts to preserve and interpret this history.


Recent Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"

Dolores Heaton's father worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and she arrived at Los Alamos with her family as a young girl. Heaton recalls what it was like growing up in Los Alamos as a child.With the housing shortage present there, Heaton and her family lived in Quonset huts and were subjected to rationing. Heaton also shares her memories of eating sandwiches with J. Robert Oppenheimer and growing up with the children of the famous scientists working on the Manhattan Project. 


Robert Kupp received mysterious orders to report to Knoxville, Tennessee just before he was shipped out to the Pacific Theater, and joined the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge. He was assigned to work as a supervisor in the Line Recorder Department at the K-25 Plant. He discusses life at Oak Ridge and the security and secrecy involved in working on the project. Kupp went on to a prestigious career as a nuclear engineer.


Ken Pumphrey worked as a security guard for the Special Engineer Detachment in Los Alamos from 1946-1948. Pumphrey recalls his part in securing the secret city and rotating around Los Alamos on guard duty. He was one of the last 12 military personnel to leave Los Alamos before the area was turned over to civilian administration. Pumphrey talks about getting treated at the hospital and his family's suspicion over his odd PO Box mailing address.


Richard Renner arrived in Los Alamos shortly after being drafted into the Special Engineer Detachment in 1945, after the war had ended. Renner worked as a firefighter at Los Alamos, stationed by the top-secret S-Site, where bombs were assembled. Renner recalls how his experiences in Santa Fe influenced his passion for Latin American studies. Renner later worked as a Professor at the University of Florida. 



Esther Stenstrom arrived at Oak Ridge in 1943, after she and her husband were picked to work in the secret city. Strenstrom worked alongside her husband in the engineering department at the Y-12 Plant as a mechanical drawer. She recalls how rationing affected life for civilians living and working in Oak Ridge and how social events offered a respite for the community members. 


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



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