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

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.

General Leslie Groves's Interview - Part 3

In this interview, General Groves describes his first few weeks as the director of the Manhattan Project. He discusses his visits to the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University to meet with some of the top scientists who would be working on the project.

Nicholas Metropolis' Interview

Nicholas Metropolis arrived in Los Alamos in 1943. Shortly after receiving his PhD in physics from the University of Chicago, Metropolis was recruited by J. Robert Oppenheimer to lead efforts in computational research for the bomb. Working under Metropolis’ supervision were John von Neumann and Stanislaw Ulam. Metropolis recalls collaborating with von Neumann and Ulam and developing the Monte Carlo method. The Monte Carlo method is a statistical approach to solve many-body problems. Metropolis also recalls contributing to the development of the MANIAC I computer. Metropolis shares many stories regarding his research and his personal relationships with his colleagues.

Franklin Matthias's Interview

Colonel Franklin Matthias, a civil engineer, was a close associate of General Groves throughout the Manhattan Project, and was asked to review sites in the West. Matthias and two Du Pont representa­tives looked quickly at possible sites in Montana, Oregon, and California, as well as Washington. Matthias decided Hanford, isolated and with a good supply of water, was the best choice. Groves appointed Matthias officer-in-charge at Hanford, granting him authority over civilian operations as well as military.