The Manhattan Project

Oak Ridge, TN

Milton Levenson's Interview

Cindy Kelly:  Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly, I’m in Alexandria, Virginia. It is January 9th, 2017. I have with me Milton Levenson. My first question to him is to please say his name and then spell it.

Levenson: My name is Milton Levenson. No middle name. M-i-l-t-o-n, and Levenson is L-e-v-e-n-s-o-n.

Kelly:  Terrific. At any rate, let’s begin with the beginning. Tell us, if you would, when you were born and where, and something about your childhood.

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.

William Ginell's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and it is Wednesday, February 22, 2017. I’m in Encino, California. Maybe the first thing is say your name and spell it for us.

William Ginell: Okay. It’s William Seaman, S-E-A-M-A-N, Ginell, G-I-N-E-L-L.

Kelly: Great. Why don’t you start at the beginning? Tell us when you were born and where and a little bit about your childhood.

William Ginell

William Ginell is a physical chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project. In this interview he describes how he became interested in chemistry and his experiences working at Columbia University and Oak Ridge, TN on the gaseous diffusion process. He reflects on the Army, living conditions, and the intense secrecy and security during the project. He also discusses his life after the war, especially his work at Brookhaven, Atomics International, and Douglas Aircraft.

Milton Levenson

Milton Levenson is an American chemical engineer and former president of the American Nuclear Society who has worked in the nuclear energy field for more than 60 years. During the Manhattan Project, he worked at Decatur, IL, and Oak Ridge, TN, where he was a supervisor at the X-10 plant.

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?

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.


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