910 17th St. NW Suite 408
Washington, DC 20006
June 2014

The Atomic Heritage Foundation had a very productive June. Now you can listen to interviews with General Leslie Groves and many more. Check out our new website with its interactive timeline, hundreds of profiles, tours, educational resources and other features. Best of all, read the latest from Capitol Hill. Prospects for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park look promising!
In This Issue
General Groves: Now He Can Be Heard



In his account of the Manhattan Project,"Now It Can Be Told" (1962), General Leslie R. Groves wrote that his spirits fell when he learned he was selected to direct the atomic bomb project. "Oh, that thing." You can only imagine his expression, but now his voice can be heard for the first time online. 


For several months, we have been steadily working on digitizing and transcribing three outstanding oral history collections: the Stephane Groueff Collection (1965), the S. L. Sanger Collection (1985), and the Richard Rhodes Collection (early 1990s). Just this week we have uploaded the first batch of interviews from the Sanger and Groueff Collections, including two hour-long interviews with General Leslie R. Groves, head of the Manhattan Project.


In the first interview, General Groves discusses the start of the Manhattan Project. He recalls the troubles he had working with Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner and explains how the project got its start. In the second interview, Groves discusses his childhood and genealogy. Stephane Groueff, who wrote one of the first books on the Manhattan Project, published in 1967, conducted interviews with dozens of top Manhattan Project scientists. He clearly had enormous respect for General Groves and thoughtfully conducted the interview.


We are also adding the audio recordings and full transcripts of interviews conducted by S. L. Sanger for his book "Working on the Bomb," published in 1989. Last summer we uploaded the book versions of the interviews; now we are adding the audio and the full, unedited transcripts. The latest batch of Sanger's interviews are with scientists Edward Teller, Leona Woods Marshall, John Wheeler, and Herbert Anderson, cafeteria manger Harry Petcher, and construction manager Frank Mackie.


The process of digitizing, transcribing and preparing the interviews for publication is demanding. We are very grateful for our excellent interns and volunteer assistance but could use your help, too. Please consider making a donation so more Manhattan Project participants can be heard.

AHF Unveils New Website   














We are pleased to announce the launch of our completely redesigned and redeveloped website with colorful, easy to navigate design. Please check it out at www.atomicheritage.org and let us know what you think. Highlights include:

  • Profiles of hundreds of Manhattan Project veterans including short biographies, descriptions of their work, timelines, and a gallery of photos and documents. Our goal is to incorporate information on the 10,000 veterans collected by Michael Vickio for the Manhattan Project Heritage and Preservation Association (MPHPA) website;
  • History articles and information about Manhattan Project locations
  • Educational Resources including lesson plans developed by high school science and history teachers;
  • Atomic timeline which is interactive with lots of photographs; 
  • Ranger in Your Pocket, tours of the Manhattan Project sites accessible on the internet, smartphones and tablets. The first tour is for the "B Reactor" with a special section on "Life at Hanford." More coming in 2015.
  • News updates;
  • Online store with fast and easy checkout and secure payment options to purchase our books, documentary films, and more; and a new
  • Donation platform that makes contributing easy.







We have already gotten some great feedback. Lila Byock, a writer for the new TV series "Manhattan," tweeted, "@AtomicHeritage Congratulations! What an amazing resource. I'm addicted to the oral histories."


We would like to thank 4Site Interactive Studios for doing a wonderful job with the design and development of the website. Also a big thanks to our dedicated interns Katie LeValley, Owen Pagano, Charles Lehman, Nicolo Marzaro, and Bianca Wythe for their work on writing, editing, and uploading articles to the new site, and to AHF Program Manager Alexandra Levy for managing the website development process. Kudos all around for excellent work!

Legislative Update
Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (far left and far right, respectively) with AHF President Cindy Kelly, Program Manager Alexandra Levy, and 
Los Alamos Historical Society Executive Director Heather McClenahan



On June 17, representatives of our Manhattan Project Coalition spent the day on Capitol Hill to persuade Congress to enact the Manhattan Project park legislation this year. The park bill passed the House on May 22, 2014 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1960); now it is up to the Senate.


Congressional staff were "cautiously optimistic" that the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will be carried forward this year, assuming that all goes well in the Senate and NDAA conference committee. 


Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker affirmed their support for the park as did the staff of Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Patty Murray, and Maria Cantwell.


For the meetings AHF's Cindy Kelly and Alexandra Levy were joined by Tom Beehan, Mayor of the City of Oak Ridge; Heather McClenahan, Executive Director of the Los Alamos Historical Society; Denise Ryan, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Elise Russell Ligouri, National Parks Conservation Association; Allison Finelli, Energy Communities Alliance; and others.


While there is still much work to be done, we are all "cautiously optimistic" that the park bill will be enacted this year.


AHF Intern Writes Thesis on Spy George Koval


AHF research assistant Owen Pagano wrote his undergraduate thesis, The Spy who Stole the Urchin, on Manhattan Project veteran and Soviet spy George Koval.


Owen first learned about Koval while researching the Dayton Project at AHF. He was fascinated by Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to award Koval the Hero of the Russian Medal in 2007 for "providing information that helped speed up considerably the time it took for the Soviet Union to develop an atomic bomb of its own."

AHF Research Assistant Owen Pagano
AHF Research Assistant Owen Pagano


Born in the USA in 1913, Koval left with his immigrant parents for the Soviet Union in 1932. In 1940, Koval returned to the USA and was drafted into the Army. Eventually he was transferred to the Special Engineer Detachment at Oak Ridge. 


Over the next several months, Koval passed secret information about Oak Ridge's nuclear facilities to intelligence officials in Moscow. In June 1945, Koval was transferred to Dayton, Ohio where scientists worked on developing the polonium trigger for the implosion bomb.


Koval returned to the Soviet Union shortly after the Manhattan Project and lived in Moscow until his death in 2006. 


You can download Owen's thesis here. Owen graduated summa cum laude from The George Washington University's Columbian School of Arts & Sciences with a B.A. in History in May 2014. Since 2012, he worked as an intern at AHF and is now a senior research assistant.


Dayton Interviews


We are pleased to announce the release of two new interviews about the Dayton Project on our "Voices of the Manhattan Project website." These interviews were generously donated to us by William Curtis, who recorded them. The interviews provide an intriguing look into one of the lesser-known Manhattan Project sites.


Manhattan Project veteran Mary Lou Curtis recalls working at Monsanto's Unit III facility, where scientists were tasked with separating polonium from irradiated bismuth to be used as the trigger for the atomic bomb. Curtis discusses the challenges she faced as one of the few women scientists at the Dayton Project. 


Eventually, she published over 20 papers on new methods of analyzing and counting radioactive materials such as polonium and plutonium. In fact, it was Curtis who measured the material that went into the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.



The second interview, held at the Mound Museum in Miamisburg, Ohio, features a panel discussion between former Dayton Project veterans and Mound Laboratory employees. Gustave Essig, Harold Knouse, Martin Hertz, Claude Hudgins, Ken Foster, E.J. Reagan, George Mahfouz, and Warren Sheehan reminisce about their time working for the Monsanto Chemical Company, where they carried out research on various neutron sources to be used as triggers for atomic bombs developed during the 1950s and 1960s. 


The group also discusses some of the innovations that were developed at Mound Laboratory, including the nuclear battery and biological studies to determine the effects of various radioactive materials on the human body.


Trailer for "Manhattan"
WGN has released the first trailer for the Manhattan Project series "Manhattan," as well as a "first look" that includes interviews with the actors. The show, which will premier on Sunday, July 27 at 9 PM (EDT), captures the frenetic pace of life at Los Alamos and the human impact of keeping everything secret, even from your spouse. While it fictionalizes aspects of the history, it should raise the public's interest in the Manhattan Project. Enjoy!


In Memoriam
Becky Diven and her husband Ben (2003)
We are sad to report the passing of two friends and Manhattan Project veterans in June, Harold Hasenfus and Rebecca Bradford Diven.


Harold Hasenfus was part of the Special Engineer Detachment during the Manhattan Project and worked at the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory and at the gaseous diffusion plant in Oak Ridge. After the war, he served as an ordnance engineer and went on to direct the Naval Space Surveillance System in Dahlgren, VA for 26 years. Former Secretary of State James R. Schlesinger once described Mr. Hasenfus as "an exceptional and accomplished man of many achievements."


Harold Hasenfus

Rebecca ("Becky") Bradford Diven began her work for the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos in 1944, where she developed a quartz fiber microbalance to weigh extremely small amounts of plutonium. Diven lived the rest of her life in Los Alamos with her husband Ben Diven, also a Manhattan Project veteran.


AHF President Cindy Kelly recorded interviews with Hasenfus and Diven, which can be viewed on the "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website. They are stellar examples of the bright, inventive young men and women who served on the Manhattan Project. 





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