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! 

"Voices" now includes interviews with some of the men who flew on the bombing missions.

Recent Oral Histories

J. Robert Oppenheimer's Interview

In this rare interview, J. Robert Oppenheimer talks about the organization of the Manhattan Project and some of the scientists that he helped to recruit during the earliest days of the project. Oppenheimer discusses some of the biggest challenges that scientists faced during the project, including developing a sound method for implosion and purifying plutonium, which he declares was the most difficult aspect of the project. He discusses the chronology of the project and his first conversation with General Leslie Groves. Oppenheimer recalls his daily routine at Los Alamos, including taking his son Peter to nursery school.

Dorothy McKibbin's Interview (1979)

Dorothy McKibbin was known as the “Gatekeeper to Los Alamos.” Everyone and everything who worked on the Manhattan Project at the site had to pass through her office at 109 East Palace in Santa Fe. Her important position as well as her friendly disposition helped her form lasting relationships with many Manhattan Project workers. In this interview, McKibbin discusses what happened to the scientists after the project, and details some of the stringent security procedures at Los Alamos. She also characterizes Oppenheimer as a charismatic and kind leader beloved by the community, who did not deserve the harsh treatment he was subjected to during his security hearing. She also describes how many of those who worked with Oppenheimer supported him, and some even tried to intervene during his hearing to no avail.

Charles Oppenheimer and Dorothy Vanderford's Interview

Charles Oppenheimer and Dorothy Vanderford are the grandchildren of J. Robert Oppenheimer. In this interview with historian Kai Bird, author of American Prometheus, a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, they discuss what it was like growing up with the Oppenheimer family legacy. They talk about growing up on the Oppenheimer family ranch in New Mexico, Perro Caliente, and how they and their father, Peter Oppenheimer, have dealt with being an Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer and Vanderford also reflect on how the memory of J. Robert Oppenheimer has been treated, the family’s position on the security trial, and their father’s involvement in anti-nuclear marches. They recall meeting some of Robert and Peter’s friends and family, including the Hempelmanns and Frank Oppenheimer, and discuss whether the historical treatment of Kitty is a fair one.

Roy Glauber & Priscilla McMillan on Oppenheimer

In this conversation, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Roy Glauber and Oppenheimer biographer Priscilla McMillan discuss how J. Robert Oppenheimer changed over the years.