The Manhattan Project

Manhattan Project Voices

Voices of the Manhattan Project

Chicago Pile-1 scientists"Voices of the Manhattan Project" is a joint project by the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the Los Alamos Historical Society to create a public archive of our oral history collections of Manhattan Project veterans and their families. 

Our online collection features over 300 audio/visual interviews with Manhattan Project workers and their families, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, General Leslie R. Groves, Glenn Seaborg, Hans and Rose Bethe, George and Vera Kistiakowsky, and many more. We add new interviews every week, so check back often! 

August 6th and 9th are the 70th anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "Voices" now includes interviews with some of the men who flew on the bombing missions.

Recent Oral Histories

Ray Gallagher's Accounts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Missions

In this tape, Ray Gallagher gives an account of the Hiroshima mission from the perspective of a flight engineer on the observation ship: The Great Artiste. He discusses the trip to Hiroshima, how he felt when the first bomb was dropped and the reactions of the top brass. Gallagher also gives a step-by-step account of the Nagasaki mission: taking off from the runway on Tinian, flying to Kokura and then to Nagasaki, and barely making it to Okinawa. He explains how a problem with refueling Bock’s Car affected the mission, and what the mushroom cloud over Nagasaki looked like from the plane. He also discusses his feelings on the necessity of the atomic bombs, and the tension the men experienced during the mission. At the end, Gallagher provides his thoughts on heroism.

William Downey's Interview - Part 1

Chaplain William Downey served as the Roman Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group and led the crew of the Enola Gay in prayer before they departed for Hiroshima. He recalls the events leading up to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He discusses the controversy that surrounds the bomb, especially in light of the events of the Cold War, and defends his belief in the use of the bomb. Downey also addresses the claims of George Zabelka, who once claimed to be the chaplain who served with the crew of the Enola Gay. Downey gives his own opinion on American policies and sentiments during the Cold War.

Robert Furman's Interview

Robert Furman served as General Leslie Groves’ assistant on the building of the Pentagon and the Manhattan Project. As Chief of Foreign Intelligence in the Manhattan Project, he coordinated and was a part of the Alsos Mission, conducting epsionage missions across Europe to interrogate Italian and German scientists, locate uranium, and determine how far the Nazis had proceeded with their atomic bomb project. Furman also accompanied half of Little Boy’s uranium ore across the Pacific to Tinian aboard the doomed USS Indianapolis. After the war, Furman was sent on a special mission to Japan to investigate whether any efforts had been made by the Japanese to develop a nuclear weapon. Furman recalls General Leslie Groves’ determination and the scientists’ frustration over his emphasis on secrecy.

Benjamin Bederson's Interview

Benjamin Bederson, a New York native, was selected to serve in the Special Engineering Detachment during the Manhattan Project. A physicist, he was first sent to Oak Ridge, and then to Los Alamos, where he worked for Donald Hornig on designing the ignition switches for the implosion bomb. At Los Alamos, he knew Ted Hall and David Greenglass, who were secretly sending atomic bomb secrets to the USSR. Bederson instructed the 509th Composite Group at Wendover and was sent to Tinian to help wire the switches for the bomb. He recalls the feeling of expectation just before the bombing of Hiroshima and his jubilation at Japan’s surrender.