The Manhattan Project

Manhattan Project Voices

Voices of the Manhattan Project

J. Robert Oppenheimer"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 200 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 Kistiakowsky, and many more. We add new interviews every week, so check back often! 

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

Leona Marshall Libby's Interview

Leona Woods was 23 in 1942, the only woman present when Enrico Fermi's nuclear pile at the University of Chicago went critical and into the history books. She moved to Hanford in 1944 with her husband, fellow physicist John Marshall. Mrs. Libby was one of the few women scientists in the Manhattan Project and probably the most well known. Even so, during an interview she laughed off questions about what it was like to be so distinctive. She did mention Du Pont had been thoughtful enough to provide her with a private bathroom at the reactor buildings.

Robert Thornton's Interview

Robert Lyster Thornton worked separating uranium isotopes as the assistant director of the Process Improvement Division of the Tennessee Easton Corporation at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In this interview, Thornton talks about working under Ernest Lawrence, as well as the development and workings of the Beta plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He also discusses the challenges he faced in separating uranium isotopes and the thousands of men and women who helped in the process.

James C. Stowers' Interview

Lt. Col. James C. Stowers was an engineer in the Army Corps of Engineers and became the unit chief for the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Stowers and his staff of officers were headquartered in the Woolworth Building in New York. Stowers negotiated the divide between civilian and military contributors, and worked intimately with the Kellex Corporation, Union Carbide Company, and the Houdaille-Hershey Company to produce a suitable barrier for the gaseous diffusion project. In this interview, Stowers describes in great detail the many trials and tribulations that challenged the creation of the gaseous diffusion plant.