The Manhattan Project

Manhattan Project Voices

Voices of the Manhattan ProjectSpecial Engineering Detachment insignia

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. The Manhattan Project was a great human collaboration, with 130,000 people around the country working on the top-secret project. We are currently in the process of adding many more oral histories to the website, so check back frequently to view new interviews! 

We are still conducting interviews with Manhattan Project veterans and their families, to capture as many oral histories as possible. If you are, or know, a Manhattan Project veteran who would like to be interviewed, please contact us.

Recent Oral Histories

Glenn Seaborg's Interview

Glenn Seaborg, winner of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and co-discoverer of plutonium, was in charge of the separation process for removing plutonium from irradiated uranium slugs at the University of Chicago during the Manhattan Project. In his interview, he discusses the pressure to obtain high yields of plutonium, and how he eventually decided on the bismuth phosphate process, which was extremely successful. Seaborg also describes the difficulty of recruiting top scientists to work on a top-secret project, as he was not allowed to explain the importance of his work unless they agreed to join.

Vera Kistiakowsky's Interview

Vera Kistiakowsky is an American physicist and the daughter of physical chemist George Kistiakowsky, who directed the Explosives Division at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project and later served as President Dwight D. Eisenhower's science advisor. Vera, who entered her first year of college at Mount Holyoke in 1944, visited her father at Los Alamos during the summer months in 1944 and 1945. In her interview, she discusses the sense of freedom she felt in the secret city and talks about the fun she had on horseback riding adventures with her father. Following the project, Vera finished college and earned her Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry under Glenn Seaborg at the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the faculty at MIT in 1963 and spent the rest of her career advocating for the advancement of women in science.

J. Robert Oppenheimer's Interview

In this interview, 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 also talks about some of the biggest difficulties that scientists faced during the project, such as developing a sound method for implosion.

General Leslie Groves' Interview - Part 5

In this interview, Groves discusses his administrative approach to managing the Manhattan Project. Groves talks about his early career before the Project and some of the key lessons he learned during his job as an engineer that helped him succeed during the Manhattan Project. Groves also discusses his relationship with Congress and the ways in which he was able to persuade government officials to provide the enormous funding for the Project.