In anticipation of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park, over the last several years we have created a website called Ranger in Your Pocket designed for audio/visual tours of the Manhattan Project sites. Visitors can create self-guided tours at the sites on their smartphones and tablets, or enjoy being an armchair tourist online. 

The stories of the Manhattan Project are told by the participants. Listening to their voices makes the history immediate and compelling. Starting with Hanford, we now have over 120 vignettes for the B Reactor and other aspects of Hanford's history. In January, we launched a beta version of our "Ranger in Your Pocket" program on Los Alamos with 15 vignettes. Over the next year we plan to complete the Los Alamos program and begin one for Oak Ridge, TN. 

The National Park Service believes that interpretation of the new park should include the full scope of the Manhattan Project's history, not just the three official sites. Accordingly, we hope to create "Ranger in Your Pocket" programs for the other important Manhattan Project sites. 

Ernest O. Lawrence, Enrico Fermi and I. I. Rabi (above, left to right) would certainly insist that the contributions of the University of California-Berkeley, University of Chicago, and Columbia University be recognized. After all, who designed Oak Ridge's Y-12 Calutrons, the gaseous diffusion process used in the K-25 plant, and Hanford's reactorsThe entire project was a great work of collaboration.

NPSMeetingsPublic Meets with NPS on MP Park
The National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently held the first public meetings on the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Oak Ridge, TN (February 1), Hanford, WA (February 4), and Los Alamos, NM (February 8). A total of several hundred people attended these sessions and shared different perspectives on how the new park should be interpreted.

The meetings were the first chance for residents of the three communities to contribute their views since the park was officially established on November 10, 2015. Among other ideas, attendees suggested that the park should focus on the human stories of Manhattan Project participants. The park should also include stories of the people who were displaced to make room for the project sites.

Members of the public emphasized the important role of the Manhattan Project in developing new technologies and its legacy of peaceful uses. Others advocated that the complex legacies of the nuclear arms race, as well as environmental and health effects issues, should be part of the interpretation of the park.

AHF President Cindy Kelly with NPS Associate Directors Victor Knox and Stephanie Toothman at the park signing ceremony in November 2015
NPS will integrate the public's feedback, along with the contributions of the Manhattan Project Scholars' Forum, into the park's foundation document. This document will be developed this year, and will provide a baseline for park planning and interpretive activities.

Tracy Atkins, project manager and interim superintendent for the new park, has cautioned that the development of the new park will take time. The process of interpreting the park and determining access to historic sites operated by DOE, like the V-Site at Los Alamos and the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge, will likely take several years. Atkins has promised that there will be many other opportunities for the public to give feedback as the park develops.

The public meetings were covered by local media outlets, including the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the Tri-City Herald, and the Los Alamos Monitor
AfricanAmericansAfrican-Americans and the Manhattan Project
African American workers at Oak Ridge, TN
African Americans played an important, though often overlooked, role on the Manhattan Project. Black workers, many striving to escape the racial terror of Jim Crow and the drought that devastated rural farming communities following the Great Depression, joined the project in the thousands. While some worked as scientists and technicians in Chicago and New York, most African Americans on the project were employed as construction workers, laborers, janitors, and domestic workers at Oak Ridge and Hanford.

African Americans and whites were united in their desire to contribute to the war effort. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order 8802, issued in 1941 after lobbying by A. Philip Randolph and other black leaders, created greater employment opportunities for African Americans. It stated, "There shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries of Government because of race, creed, color, or national origin." To reinforce this executive order, a prohibition of discrimination clause was written in all defense contracts.
African American construction workers at Hanford

The prospect of higher-paying jobs and a better future drew many African Americans to the Manhattan Project. The project conformed to the segregation practices of the time and was not immune from racism, but also offered many blacks an opportunity for advancement. The different Manhattan Project sites often reflected the beliefs of the communities in which they were located, and the experience of African Americans on the project varied by individual and by site.

For more information, please visit African Americans and the Manhattan Project.
LamphereManhattan Project Spotlight: Robert Lamphere
In May of 1950, a 32-year-old FBI agent named Robert Lamphere came face-to-face with Klaus Fuchs. The Soviet spy was "very reserved," Lamphere recalled. "Somewhat shy, perhaps a touch of arrogance underneath the shyness. Right off the bat, he wasn't sure he wanted to tell me anything."
In 1994, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and AHF Board member Richard Rhodes conducted three interviews with Lamphere. These interviews are available on the  Voices of the Manhattan Project website. Lamphere's recollections provide a dramatic firsthand account of the FBI's efforts to uncover Soviet espionage during the early years of the Cold War.
Born in Idaho, Lamphere joined the FBI in 1941 after graduating from law school. He quickly showed promise as an investigator. In 1943, the Army Signal Intelligence Service created the top-secret "Venona" project to decode Soviet intelligence cables. In 1946, cryptologist Meredith Gardner began to break into Soviet trade messages and pieced together information about a wide-ranging espionage network in the United States, including Soviet spies on the Manhattan Project.
As the importance of the decoded messages became increasingly clear, Lamphere was named the FBI's liaison to Venona. The spy ring began to unravel when Venona uncovered a report written by Fuchs on the atomic bomb project. A German émigré, Fuchs joined the British Mission during the Manhattan Project and was a member of the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos. He had worked on the implosion design for the plutonium bomb, and had passed detailed notes about it to the Russians. In 1946, Fuchs returned to the United Kingdom and became head of the theoretical division at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell.
Robert Lamphere
Confronted by British intelligence, Fuchs confessed and was arrested on February 2, 1950. 
After negotiations with the British government, Lamphere was allowed to come to London to interrogate Fuchs. Lamphere remembered it as "the hardest thing I probably ever did in my life." Nevertheless, on May 22, 1950, he made a breakthrough. When Lamphere showed Fuchs photographs of one suspect, a chemist named Harry Gold, Fuchs identified Gold as his courier.
Over the next few weeks, Lamphere and the FBI worked around the clock to identify the other members of the spy ring. Gold confessed his involvement, and implicated a Manhattan Project veteran and machinist named David Greenglass. Greenglass's arrest led to the identification of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
The break-up of the spy ring caused a furor. The Red Scare was already at a fever pitch, and the arrest of the atomic spies confirmed many Americans' fears that espionage had allowed the Soviets to produce their first atomic bomb. Fuchs, Gold, Greenglass, and the Rosenbergs were all convicted of espionage. The first three received prison sentences; the Rosenbergs were executed in 1953.
After leaving the FBI in 1955, Lamphere became an executive with the Veterans Administration and senior vice president of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1986, he published a memoir of his experiences called The FBI-KGB War. Lamphere died in 2002.
Click here to listen to Rhodes's interviews with Lamphere. Visit AHF's article on espionage to learn more about the spies who revealed Manhattan Project secrets.
NyerIn Memoriam: Warren Nyer
Warren Nyer. Photo courtesy of
the JRM Foundation.
We are sad to report that Manhattan Project scientist Warren Nyer died on February 4 at the age of 94. Nyer had the unusual distinction of working at four different project sites: Chicago, Oak Ridge, Hanford, and Los Alamos. According to his son Michael, he was the last living member of the group that worked directly under Enrico Fermi at the Chicago Metallurgical Lab.

Nyer became involved in the Manhattan Project when he was a 19-year-old physics student and laboratory assistant at the University of Chicago. He worked with Enrico Fermi on the construction of exponential piles, important precursors to Chicago Pile-1, the world's first controlled, self-sustained nuclear reaction. He was present when Chicago Pile-1 went critical on December 2, 1942.

After a year at Oak Ridge working on the construction of the X-10 Graphite Reactor, Nyer transferred to Hanford at the request of DuPont. He helped prepare equipment and measure radioactivity levels at B Reactor. In February 1945, seeking what he thought would be a more exciting job, Nyer arranged to work at the Manhattan Project's scientific laboratory at Los Alamos. He helped prepare the equipment that took blast measurements at the Trinity test, the first detonation of a nuclear device.

The Met Lab team. Nyer is second to the right in the back row.
Nyer vividly remembered Trinity. "I had a piece of welder's glass taped to a hole I had cut in a cardboard box that I had over my head," he recalled. "I saw the most brilliant flash and knew instantly, of course, that the whole thing was a success. Then I saw the mushroom cloud just going on forever in the sky and how enormous the whole thing was, of brilliant colors. It looked like a living thing with a blue glow."

After the war, Nyer moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho to work at the National Reactor Testing Station, now known as Idaho National Laboratory. He later became a management consultant to electric utility firms.

For more about Nyer and his Manhattan Project work and career, you can listen to an interview with him taken in 1986 on our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website.
ManhattanTV"Manhattan" Not Renewed for 3rd Season
The television show "Manhattan" aired its second season on WGN America in 2015. The show portrayed a fictionalized version of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. The second season focused on the challenges of designing and assembling the "Gadget" for the Trinity test, the security situation and espionage, and personal relationships.

Unfortunately, "Manhattan" will not have a third season. While "Manhattan" took liberties with the overall story and security issues, it got many details correct. Our staff and many other "Fanhattans" will certainly miss the show! 
VoicesMP"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently added to the Voices of the Manhattan Project website

David Hall and his wife, Jane Hamilton, went as a team to Hanford. Also a physicist, she worked in the medical-safety division. In later years, he became head of the reactor division at Los Alamos and Jane Hamilton was the assistant director at Los Alamos. In this interview, Hall discusses his Manhattan Project work at the Chicago Met Lab and Hanford, and how he and his wife came to work at Los Alamos after the war.

Peter Lax fled Nazi persecution in Hungary and came to America with his family at age 15. Drafted into the Army at 18, he joined other émigré scientists and mathematicians in Los Alamos to work on the Manhattan Project. In this interview, Lax discusses his work as a member of the Manhattan Project's Special Engineer Detachment and work on neutron transport, fluid dynamics, and shockwaves. He vividly describes what life was like at Los Alamos and offers insights on the development of scientific computing and atomic energy. He also recalls the "Martians," the brilliant Hungarian mathematicians and scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project. 

Colonel Franklin Matthias was the officer-in-charge at the Hanford site. In the second part of his interview in 1965 with Stephane Groueff, Matthias describes the personalities of the men he worked with, including Enrico Fermi and DuPont's Granville Read. He recalls a visit by Fermi and Eugene Wigner to Hanford, and explains why Read got along well with General Leslie Groves. Matthias discusses the safety measures at Hanford, and recounts how a Japanese fire balloon temporarily knocked out power to the plant. He also explains how scientists conducted tests on salmon to assess levels of radioactive contamination in the Columbia River.

General Kenneth Nichols was the District Engineer for the Manhattan Engineering District, and oversaw the design and operation of the Hanford and Oak Ridge sites. He was responsible for securing the initial deals with Stone & Webster and the DuPont Company to develop the industry for the site, and lived for a time with his wife at Oak Ridge. In part 3 of his interview in 1965 with Stephane Groueff, he discusses sabotage and Klaus Fuchs, dealings with the British, and the very start of the Manhattan Project. He recalls some conflict between the scientists and engineers, the importance of industry in the project, and the initial problems with the startup of the B Reactor.

Sir Rudolf Peierls was a German-born physicist. He worked with Wolfgang Pauli in Switzerland, and moved to England when Hitler rose to power in 1933. In March 1940, Peierls and fellow colleague Otto Frisch co-authored the Frisch-Peierls memorandum, the first technical exposition of a practical atomic weapon. Peierls joined the British Mission and worked on the Manhattan Project in New York and Los Alamos. In this interview, Peierls discusses his work in atomic research and how the Frisch-Peierls memorandum was developed. He recalls going sailing with Oppenheimer, and how the scientists at Los Alamos respected Oppenheimer's leadership.

Newton Stapleton worked for the legal department at DuPont when he was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project. He became responsible for security and secrecy at Hanford, WA. He describes the security procedures in place, including how background checks were conducted and badges were issued. He discusses the emphasis on secrecy and how DuPont's leaders urged workers to keep quiet about their work. Stapleton recalls the challenge of getting a four-bedroom home in Richland.

Colonel (later General) Paul Tibbets was the pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the "Little Boy" atomic bomb over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. In this documentary Tibbets co-produced with the Buckeye Aviation Book Company, "Reflections on Hiroshima," he recounts his memories of the day the atomic bomb was first used in warfare. Tibbets recalls how he became a pilot, and explains how the Manhattan Project's "Silverplate" program produced a special version of the B-29 capable of delivering the atomic bomb. He also discusses the target selection process and describes the "odd couple" of J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves. He remembers seeing the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and feeling the shock wave of the blast, and shares his views on the role of morality during war.

Thanks to all the Manhattan Project veterans, their families and many others who have supported our efforts over the past 14 years. We are very pleased to see the creation of the new park. Please make a donation to support our continued efforts. Thank you!

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