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 250 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! 

Click here to register for the Atomic Heritage Foundation's 70th Anniversary of the Manhattan Project events, to be held in Washington, DC in June 2-3, 2015. The events will include a reunion of Manhattan Project veterans and a symposium featuring veterans and experts.

Recent Oral Histories

Isabella Karle's Interview

Manhattan Project veteran and award-winning chemist Isabella Karle is a pioneer in the field of crystallography. Her work on molecular structures and plutonium extraction and purification has had a sweeping influence across many scientific fields. In this interview, Karle discusses her upbringing in Detroit, Michigan, and how she obtained her degrees in physical chemistry from the University of Michigan. Karle discusses her time working on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago, as well as the time she and her husband, Jerome, spent working at the US Naval Research Laboratory following the war.

Alfred Nier's Interview - Part 1

Dr. Alfred Nier was an American physicist well-known for his work on spectrometry. Nier designed the mass spectrometers used for Manhattan Project experiments and his instruments were sent to all of the major Project sites. With his mass spectrometer, Nier helped prove that that U-235 was fissile, not the more abundant isotope U-238. Nier worked for the Kellex Corporation to design and construct the apparatuses used to monitor the separation of Uranium-235 and Uranium-238, as well as leak detectors for the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. In this interview, Nier describes in detail his instrumentation at the University of Minnesota and his work leading up to the Manhattan Project.

Rose Bethe's Interview

Rose Bethe and her husband, Nobel Prize winner Hans Bethe, moved to Los Alamos in early 1943 when Hans was appointed leader of the Theoretical Division for the Manhattan Project. During the initial stages of the Project, Rose worked in the housing office, where she assigned incoming scientists and their families to houses and showed them where site facilities were located. When Rose became pregnant with her first child, Henry, she resigned her position to help physicist Bruno Rossi wire electronics boards. Mrs. Bethe recalls raising her children at Los Alamos and some of the relationships she developed with many of the project’s most famous scientists. She also discusses her childhood years in Germany and how the rise of Hitler forced her and many of her close friends to leave the country.

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. Oppie recalls his daily routine at Los Alamos, including taking his son to nursery school.