The Manhattan Project

Los Alamos, NM

Esther Vigil's Interview

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

Willie Atencio: Okay, we’ll try to do this informally. First of all, can you tell us about where you were born and who your parents were?

Esther Vigil: I was born in San Pedro. My mother was Maria Teofila Ortiz Lujan, and my father was Pedro Jose Lujan.

Atencio: Did you go to school in the Española Valley before?

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.

Matias A. Zamora

Matias A. Zamora is a retired attorney and judge, and a U.S. Army veteran. In this interview, he reflects on his experiences working as a server at Fuller Lodge at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. He describes his duties at the lodge and remembers seeing famous scientists, including J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller. He also recalls how he heard about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Eulalia Quintana Newton's Interview

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

Willie Atencio: Eula, you went to school in Española, right? Española?

Eula Quintana Newton: Yes, I did.

Atencio: You were the valedictorian of your class?

Quintana Newton: That’s right.

Atencio: The Class of 19—

Quintana Newton: ’42.

Eulalia Quintana Newton

Eulalia “Eula” Quintana Newton (1923-2016) worked at the Los Alamos laboratory for more than 50 years, beginning during the Manhattan Project.

Born in 1923, Newton graduated from Española High School as valedictorian in 1942. After a stint with the state Welfare Department, she began working at Los Alamos in 1944. Initially a charwoman (or housekeeper), Newton worked in various offices at the Los Alamos laboratory, including in the personnel and fiscal offices, where she was a clerk and stenographer.

Stanley Hall's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and we are in Los Alamos, New Mexico. It’s February 2, 2017. I have with me W. Stanley Hall. 

Hall: I was born in 1924 on Broadway in Manhattan. I was there until the third grade. In the fourth grade, I went to the Bronx and was there one year, and then went to Princeton, New Jersey, and stayed there until graduation from Princeton High School. Actually, we lived in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Across the street was Princeton, but I went to Princeton High School.

Stanley Hall

W. Stanley Hall was eighteen years old when he was recruited to work as a machinist on the cyclotron, first at Princeton University and later at the Los Alamos Laboratory. He worked at Los Alamos as a civilian, then later was drafted and worked as part of the Special Engineer Detachment (SED).

Jay Shelton's Interview

Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is Saturday, February 4, 2017. I have with me Jay Shelton. My first question is to please say your name, full name, and spell it.

Shelton: Jay Shelton, J-A-Y S-H-E-L-T-O-N.

Kelly: Perfect. Now, Jay, why don’t you just tell a little bit about yourself and what you have been doing for the last umpteen years?

Jay Shelton

Jay Shelton is an American physicist and science and math teacher. In this interview, he recalls his experiences from nearly three decades as a high school teacher in Northern New Mexico. He provides an overview of how radiation works and how alpha, beta, and gamma rays differ. Shelton explains the health risks associated with radiation and stresses the importance of quantitative analyses of risks from certain radiation sources. He argues that the general public often overplays many of these risks.

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