The Manhattan Project

Los Alamos, NM

Benjamin Bederson

Benjamin Bederson, a New York native, was selected to serve in the Special Engineering Detachment during the Manhattan Project. A physicist, he was first sent to Oak Ridge, and then to Los Alamos, where he worked for Donald Hornig on designing the ignition switches for the implosion bomb. At Los Alamos, he knew Ted Hall and David Greenglass, who were secretly sending atomic bomb secrets to the USSR. Bederson instructed the 509th Composite Group at Wendover and was sent to Tinian to help wire the switches for the bomb.

Margaret and John Wickersham's Interview

[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Willie Atencio: Mr. John Wickersham, we’re trying to interview you and get information from you, because you were at Los Alamos. You were there while the bomb was being developed. 

John Wickersham: Oh, yeah. But I don’t know nothing about that.

Atencio: Your first name, ma’am?

Margaret (Marge) Wickersham: I’m Margaret.

Margaret Wickersham

Margaret "Marge" (Hibner) Wickersham grew up in the Fairview area of Española, NM.

During the Manhattan Project, she commuted by bus from Española to Los Alamos, where she worked as a maid and as a cashier in the commissary. At Los Alamos, she met and married her husband John Wickersham.

After the war, the Wickershams settled in Española, where they raised five children.

Felix DePaula's Interview (2008)

[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

David Schiferl: Tell us how you got here.

Felix DePaula: Well, let me start with being inducted into the service in 1944, October of ’44, into the Corps of Engineers at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Then from there, I was sent to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and I spent a couple of months in the wintertime at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Julia Maestas

Julia Maestas is the granddaughter of Manuel Maestas, a homesteader at Los Alamos, and daughter of Elipio Maestas, who worked as a civil guard for the Corps of Engineers at Los Alamos. In her interview, she discusses her family’s history and what it was like growing up in Los Alamos. She shares childhood memories about friends, skating, and watching movies. She also describes how her tri-cultural background and education at Los Alamos led to her career in speech pathology and educational psychology.

Lionel Ames's Interview

Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It’s February 22, 2017. I have Lionel Ames with me. My first question to him is tell us your full name and spell it, please.

Ames: Lionel Ames, L-I-O-N-E-L, Ames, A-M-E-S.

Kelly: Terrific. First question is to tell us something about yourself: when you were born and where.

Lionel Ames

Lionel Ames is an Army and Manhattan Project veteran. In this interview, he talks about how his brother Maurice Shapiro, who worked as a scientist at Los Alamos, was able to get him assigned to the top-secret site. Ames recalls his work at Los Alamos in the chemistry lab, and his role as a cantor for the weekly Jewish services. He also discusses daily life at Los Alamos. He concludes by discussing his post-war life as an entertainer.  

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