The Manhattan Project

Oak Ridge, TN

Roger Hildebrand's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, and it is November 16, 2016. I’m in Chicago, Illinois with Roger Hildebrand. My first question for him is tell me your name and spell it, please.

Roger Hildebrand: My name is Roger Hildebrand, R-o-g-e-r H-i-l-d-e-b-r-a-n-d.

Kelly: Tell us what is your birthday and where were you born?

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.

Lawrence S. O'Rourke

Lawrence S. O’Rourke began working on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University after he was called up from the Army Reserves in 1944. O’Rourke was among the first group of SEDs who worked at Columbia, where he helped research and develop the gaseous diffusion process for the separation of uranium. After nine months, O’Rourke’s group moved from the Pupin Physics Lab to the Nash Garage Building, where they helped develop the barrier material that would be used at the K-25 plant in Oak Ridge.

Roger Hildebrand

Roger Hildebrand is an American physicist and the S.K. Allison Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus, at the University of Chicago. His involvement with the Manhattan Project began with a tap on the shoulder by Ernest Lawrence, who convinced Hildebrand to shift from being a chemist to a physicist. He worked with cyclotrons and mass spectrometers at Berkeley before transferring to the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge. In this interview, Hildebrand shares his memories of Lawrence, Enrico Fermi, Samuel Allison, and other Manhattan Project scientists.

Vincent and Clare Whitehead's Interview - Part 2

[To see an edited version of the interview published by S. L. Sanger in Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995, click here.]

Clare Whitehead: I got raised to Tech Sergeant, so he immediately got raised to Tech Sergeant. He said, “Well, we figured it was too bad we did not get married earlier. We would have been generals by the time we retired.” [Laughter]

Hal Behl's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Okay. I am Cindy Kelly. I’m here in Albuquerque. It is Wednesday, October 12.

Hal Behl: Okay. I’m Harold Behl. B as in boy, e-h-l. Known as Hal.

Kelly: Okay. I just want to have you tell us when and where you were born and a little about your childhood.

Marvin Wilkening's Interview (1995)

[Many thanks to Thomas Scanlan for recording and donating this interview to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Thomas Scanlan: —Is part of an interview, which I held with Professor Marvin Wilkening at his home on Socorro, New Mexico on July 15, 1995. 

Now, I was reading that you had worked at four different places associated with the Manhattan Project.

Marvin Wilkening: That’s right.

Scanlan: Was your first work with [Enrico] Fermi at Chicago?

Dorothy Ritter's Interview

Cindy Kelly: It is Sunday, May 15, 2016, and we’re in Houston, Texas. I want to start by asking you to tell me your name and then spell it.

Dorothy Ritter: My name is Dorothy Oley Ritter. D-O-R-O-T-H-Y O-L-E-Y R-I-T-T-E-R.

Kelly: All right. Dorothy, why don’t we begin by having you tell us something about your family, when you were born, your childhood?

Dorothy Ritter

Dorothy Ritter is the daughter of Manhattan Project veteran Francis Oley. Oley worked at the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, TN. His job required him and his family to move from New York to Oak Ridge. Ritter spent several years of her childhood in Oak Ridge. In this interview she reminisces about the simplicity of her life there, and discusses how living and working at Oak Ridge impacted her family. She recalls the strain her father was under during the project, and the house they lived in.

The Search for Atomic Power

Ed Wood: January 21, 1954 will go down as a significant day in human history. A milestone in man’s scientific progress. For on that day, at Groton, Connecticut, was launched the first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, powered by the world’s first atomic engine designed to do useful work. With this achievement, man at last has seen the dawn of the age of atomic power.

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