Atomic Heritage Foundation staff have been busy recording more interviews with Manhattan Project veterans. In the past three months, AHF conducted interviews with seven veterans and family members, including Margaret Broderick, who worked as a chemist at MIT during the war. In June, staff interviewed Jack Widowsky, one of the last surviving members of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing missions, and Joseph Papalia, historian of the 509th Composite Group. We will publish their interviews online soon.

Please donate today to support our oral history project. Thank you!
TShirtsManhattan Project T-Shirts Now Available
The Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) is pleased to announce T-shirts for two of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park sites are now available on our online store. The designs feature striking images of the Los Alamos Main Gate and the B Reactor at Hanford.

The National Park Service has approved AHF's use of the words "Manhattan Project National Historical Park" for the T-shirts. Thus they will make a great souvenir for anyone interested in promoting the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

These high quality 100% cotton T-shirts cost $19.95 and come in blue or orange. The shirts are available in adult sizes small, medium, large, and extra-large.

Depending on demand, we may also produce T-shirts for Oak Ridge and the Trinity Site based on the designs by graphic artist Brian Maebius now on our colorful posters and 5x7 notecards.

Help spread the word about the new park and encourage others to visit the Manhattan Project sites for themselves! To order a T-shirt, click here.
ReceptionAHF Staff Attend NPS Centennial Reception
AHF staff with other members of the National Parks Second Century Action Coalition at the reception

On June 8, AHF Program Director Alexandra Levy and Program Manager Nathaniel Weisenberg attended a National Park Service Centennial Reception hosted by the National Parks Second Century Action Coalition.

Theresa Pierno, President of the National Parks Conservation Association, opened the reception. Speakers included many members of Congress, such as Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Representative Tom McClintock of California, and Representative Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts. They spoke about the importance of preserving and maintaining our national parks, and how Congress will work to support the "second century" of the National Park system. Attendees included representatives of the Department of Interior, the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Public Lands Alliance, and other Congressional offices.

In September 2009, the National Parks Second Century Commission, co-chaired by former Senators Howard Baker, Jr., and Bennett Johnston, Jr., strongly urged Congress to expand the role of the national parks to represent the diversity of our heritage. The Commission recommended that the National Park Service engage diverse audiences, provide lifelong, place-based learning, strengthen its collaboration with partners, and use new technologies and media.

These aims will be essential to interpreting the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. We enjoyed the opportunity to engage with other organizations dedicated to strengthening America's national parks, and look forward to helping make the Manhattan Project National Historical Park a prototype for 21st-century parks.
LANLMaterialsLANL Materials Illuminate MP at Los Alamos
Enrico Fermi. Photo courtesy of LANL.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Archives recently provided the Atomic Heritage Foundation with hours of video, thousands of photographs, and numerous audio recordings related to the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. These materials document some of the pivotal moments and people behind the making of the atomic bomb.
AHF has posted a number of these films to our YouTube channel. One film, Tinian, Little Boy, and Fat Man, features 24 minutes of silent footage depicting the final preparations and use of the atomic bombs against Japan. You can watch the loading of the "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" atomic bombs on Tinian Island, as well as the takeoff and return of the Enola Gay. The film also shows the mushroom cloud above Nagasaki.
Another film compiles unique home movies shot by physicist Hugh Bradner, whom the Army granted informal permission to use his video camera around Los Alamos. These films, which were rediscovered and released by LANL in 2012, provide vivid snapshots of life on "the Hill" during the Manhattan Project. Probably unbeknownst to the Army, Bradner captured footage of scientific experiments, including the RaLa (radioactive lanthanum) experiment, which was critical in testing the design for the plutonium bomb. On a lighter note, the movies also show project scientists relaxing and enjoying activities such as hiking and skiing.
Operation Crossroads Baker Shot
Additional films illustrate the Laboratory's role during the Cold War. On AHF's YouTube Channel, you can watch footage of 24 nuclear tests. Another film documents President John F. Kennedy's visit to Los Alamos on December 7, 1962, and incorporates excerpts from his speech to a crowd of more than 6,000 people at Los Alamos High School. In the coming weeks, AHF will post additional LANL films, including a documentary on Edward Teller and lectures by prominent Manhattan Project veterans including Harold Agnew, Priscilla Duffield, and Frederick Ashworth.
Approximately 900 of the photographs depict the preparations for the Trinity test, as well as the test itself. Other images show members of Project Alberta and the 509th Composite Group on Tinian, and the ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The materials also include oral history interviews with members of the British Mission to Los Alamos, including Sir Rudolf Peierls, Ernest and Peggy Titterton, and Joseph Rotblat. 

Oppenheimer, Gen. Groves, and UCal President Robert Sproul present the Army-Navy "E" Award to LANL in October 1945.
Other recordings feature reminiscences by Laura Fermi, Enrico Fermi's wife; Nobel Prize-winning physicist Edwin McMillan and his wife, Elsie; and Bernice Brode, who was a "computer" at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. AHF will seek funds to transcribe these audio materials and make them available on the Voices of the Manhattan Project website.
We will post additional photographs and videos on our website and YouTube channel soon. Many thanks to LANL historian Alan Carr and his staff for sharing these materials, which capture Los Alamos's seminal role in the nuclear age. 

FiresetWilliam F. Lightfoot and the "Fat Man" Fireset
Fireset for the Fat Man type bomb at the Bradbury Science Museum. Photo courtesy of Bill Lightfoot.
On a recent trip to the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, Bill Lightfoot came across something surprising. On display was one of the firesets, or electronic fuses, that his father, William F. Lightfoot, worked on for the Raytheon Company during the Manhattan Project.

Bill Lightfoot remarks, "I had been told by a Raytheon rep years ago that there were probably no devices left or probably even any drawings or photos. You can imagine how stunned I was!"

An important component of the design of the "Fat Man" implosion bomb, the firesets supplied energy to the bomb's detonators, which then compressed a mass of plutonium-239 to trigger a nuclear chain reaction and explosion. The Raytheon Company, co-founded by Manhattan Project administrator Vannevar Bush, produced hundreds of firesets for the Manhattan Project. The fireset at the Bradbury may be the only one still remaining. The 509th Composite Group used many of the other firesets in the "pumpkin bomb" tests it conducted to prepare for the use of the atomic bombs against Japan.

The fireset was uncovered approximately ten years ago in a storage facility in Albuquerque. Sitting in an old crate, it was badly rusted, mouse-eaten, and in a pool of standing water - but still salvageable. Dr. Glen McDuff, the retired Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who identified the fireset and helped restore it for display, speculates that it was stored away sometime in 1946. The device may have come from Wendover Airfield in Utah or the Naval Ordnance Testing Station at China Lake, California.

William F. Lightfoot
The fireset has a relatively low serial number (285), so McDuff believes it was from "one of the original batches." It was probably never used, which may explain its unlikely survival. Normally, "as soon as it [a fireset] arrived, it was used," McDuff says. He calls the fireset "probably the only one we are ever going to find."

William F. Lightfoot was responsible for producing test equipment for the team working on the fuses. He traveled to Los Alamos on at least two occasions. In his memoir The First Half, his son remembers him being accompanied by a pair of armed FBI agents, "an indication of the importance that the government attached to my father's knowledge."

After the war, Lightfoot continued working at Raytheon, serving as director of government manufacturing. He also served as program manager of the avionics of the B-58 Hustler bomber program. He passed away in 1990 at the age of 83.

Thanks to Bill Lightfoot, Omar Juveland of the Bradbury Science Museum, and Dr. McDuff for sharing the story of the fireset with AHF. For more on the design of the "Fat Man" type bomb, please visit our page on the Science Behind the Atom Bomb.
Native Americans and the Manhattan Project
Maria Montoya Martinez with her grandson and Enrico Fermi
Native Americans throughout the United States performed important wartime service. Roughly ten percent of the country's Native American population served in the military, nearly one third of all able-bodied men. Nez Perce tribal elder Veronica Taylor recalls, "My dad had to go away to military training and go into the war. It was the same way with a lot of the other families." 

Separation from family and tradition would be a recurring theme for Native Americans during the war. For many Native Americans living near the lands taken over for the Manhattan Project, World War II was especially disruptive, with long-term cultural, economic and environmental impacts.

The Manhattan Project prohibited many Native Americans from enjoying their ancestral lands as the military took over hundreds of square miles for scientific laboratories and industrial production facilities at Los Alamos, NM and Hanford, WA. While Manhattan Project officials made some provisions for access, Native Americans were generally unable to enjoy their traditional hunting, fishing and camping grounds or sacred ancestral sites. With little warning, the Manhattan Project abruptly disrupted Native Americans' traditional ways of life. Afterwards, decades of environmental contamination further eroded Native Americans' former lands and traditional lifeways.

To read more about how the Manhattan Project impacted the Native American tribes at Hanford, WA, Los Alamos, NM, and Oak Ridge, TN, please see Native Americans and the Manhattan Project.
AnniversaryAnniversary of MP Reunion and Symposium
Manhattan Project veterans at the events
On June 2-3, 2015, the Atomic Heritage Foundation hosted events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Manhattan Project at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. On June 2, Manhattan Project veterans and family members gathered for a reunion, recalling their World War II work and the friends they made.

On June 3, government officials, including officials from the National Park Service, the Department of Energy, and New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, spoke at the Manhattan Project Symposium. Richard Rhodes and other historians were joined by Manhattan Project veterans and family members on panels covering different Manhattan Project topics. Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, authors of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Oppenheimer biography American Prometheus, spoke along with Oppenheimer's grandson, Charles Oppenheimer.

Manhattan Project veteran James Forde
speaking at the events
Throughout the day, AHF recorded interviews with some of the veterans and family members present. You can watch Henry Frisch and Andrew Hanson, who were both born in Los Alamos, discuss how their physicist fathers worked on plutonium and prepared for the Trinity test. Physicist Bob Carter remembers what it was like to work on the project at Los Alamos. Charlie Oppenheimer and Dorothy Vanderford provide unique perspective into their grandparents, Robert and Kitty Oppenheimer, and how their famous family name has affected their life.

Video from the events can be found on AHF's YouTube ChannelC-SPAN's American History TV recorded and broadcast three panels: Women of the Manhattan ProjectEspionage and the Manhattan Project, and Remembering Groves and Oppenheimer. You can view photographs from the reunion and symposium on our website and Facebook.

Seventeen Manhattan Project veterans attended the symposium. Sadly, since then we have lost four of our friends: Norman Brown, William E. Tewes, Irene LaViolette, and Walter Goodman. But we continue to stay in touch with the others, who enjoy keeping up with Manhattan Project National Historical Park news and other updates.
Voices"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently added to the Voices of the Manhattan Project website

Margaret Broderick worked on the Manhattan Project as a chemist at MIT. In this interview, she describes the laboratory where she was employed and the secrecy and "tight" security that surrounded the project. She elaborates on the background check procedures required for workers. Broderick also recalls the wartime culture and environment in America, offering insight into military-civilian relations and social life during World War II.

David Hawkins was a philosophy professor who became the administrative aide at the Los Alamos Laboratory in 1943 and the Manhattan Project's historian in 1945-46. In that role, he had free access to all the top people involved, including project director J. Robert Oppenheimer and physicist Edward Teller. In this interview, Hawkins describes his encounters with lawyer Cliff Durr after the war, when he, like Oppenheimer, was facing suspicion from the U.S. government for his involvement with the Communist Party. The rest of the interview is a discussion of the nature of the Communist community in Berkeley before the war. Hawkins describes a familial group of intellectuals from a plethora of disciplines, and recalls some of his friends who were Communist Party members, including Frank Oppenheimer and Phillip Morrison. Hawkins also describes Oppenheimer's remarkable ability for getting people to agree with each other, as well as his wide-ranging interests and need for one-upmanship.

Louis Hempelmann was a doctor and radiologist who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. He was a close friend of J. Robert Oppenheimer, his wife Kitty, and their children. In this interview, Hempelmann explains how and why he was recruited for the Manhattan Project. He recalls an early conference there on the bomb at which Edward Teller was criticized for his obsession with the hydrogen bomb. Hempelmann remembers going horseback riding with Oppenheimer and Kitty, and watching their children during the Atomic Energy Commission hearing that resulted in Oppie's security clearance being revoked.

Mack Newsom was a member of the 509th Composite Group. He worked as an airplane mechanic and B-29 engine specialist. He was part of the ground crew for the B-29 Silverplate plane Next Objective. In this interview, Newsom discusses the details of his work on B-29s and what he and his fellow mechanics did to maintain the plane. He also describes the working conditions on Tinian, including the climate, accommodations, division of labor, and water shortage on the island. He reflects on the use of the bomb, and how those stationed at Tinian came to learn of Hiroshima. Newsom also recalls going to Cuba when Next Objective was assigned there for temporary duty.

Roslyn D. Robinson worked as a driver and in the administration office for the Chicago Met Lab. Her husband, Sidney, was an engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project. In this interview, she talks about her early life, as well as her duties in Chicago and the omnipresent emphasis on secrecy. She recalls her husband's hospitalization and quarantine after a mysterious "spill" in his laboratory at the New Chem Building. She also remembers learning about the project's true purpose when Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, her reaction to that event, and how the Project continued to affect their lives after the war.

Ted Taylor Part 4: From 1948-1956, Taylor worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, developing fission bombs of minimal size and maximal capacity. Later in life, while working for the Defense Department, Taylor began to realize the real-world implications and consequences of the bombs he developed. In this interview, he discusses the effect of the Korean War and the pressure to produce atomic weapons. Taylor elaborates on how he developed a great distrust of the nuclear industry, the politics of it, and way the process overstressed secrecy and lying. Finally, Taylor explains how he initially came to be a designer of nuclear weapons, and how he believes that fascination with nuclear weapons is like a disease.
Thanks to all the Manhattan Project veterans, their families and many others who have supported our efforts over the past 14 years. We look forward to working with the National Park Service and the three sites of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Please make a donation to support our continued efforts. Thank you!

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