The Manhattan Project

Oral Histories

Rebecca Bradford Diven's Interview

Becky Diven began her work for the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos in 1944, where she developed a quartz fiber microbalance to weigh extremely small amounts of plutonium. Diven discusses what it was like for women working at the Manhattan Project and talks about workers’ relations with the Pueblos, most of whom worked as maids or janitors.

Dee McCullough's Interview

Dee McCullough began working as an instrument technician at Hanford in early 1944. As a former sound engineer, McCullough was tasked with installing nuclear safety monitors on the reactors at Hanford. McCullough, who worked closely with many of the famous scientists at the Manhattan project, discusses his interactions with Enrico Fermi and Leona Woods Marshall. In addition, he talks about the various safety methods DuPont put in place to protect their workers.

Paul Vinther's Interview

Paul Vinther arrived in Hanford in 1950 where he worked as a physicist and reactor operator. Vinther discusses, in detail, DuPont’s safety philosophy as well as many of the safety measures put in place to protect workers at the plant. Vinther also discusses the impact of nuclear radiation on the wildlife and the various tests conducted to measure the environmental impact.

Jack Aeby's Interview

Jack Aeby was one of the first civilian employees on the Manhattan Project, and captured the only color photograph of the Trinity test. He worked in many areas, starting with transporting people from Lamy to 109 E. Palace Avenue in Santa Fe and then on up the Hill. He was put in charge of the chemical stockroom. Aeby moved to P-5 (Physics Group 5) with Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain. He reactivated the Los Alamos Ranch School’s Boy Scout Troop 22 on demand of the school superintendent. He discusses working with Emilio Segrè at Los Alamos, and how his famous photo of the Trinity test came about.

Steve Buckingham's Interview

Steve Buckingham, a chemist, worked at the Hanford site beginning in 1947. He explains how the B Reactor worked, and applauds the ingenuity of the designers of the T-plant.

Donald Trauger's Interview

Donald Trauger became involved in the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, working on the gaseous diffusion process. He discusses the science of isotope separation and also the decision to use the atomic bomb.

Joe Dykstra's Interview

Joe Dykstra joined the Manhattan Project with Hooker Electrochemical Company at Oak Ridge, working at K-25 on the gaseous diffusion process. He discusses the debate over the bomb and the attitude of those working on the project.

George Mahfouz's Interview

George Mahfouz became involved in the Manhattan Project first in Decatur, Illinois building gaseous diffusion tubes for the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Later, Mr. Mahfouz was involved in the Dayton Project, working on the process to make the trigger for the atomic bomb.

Graydon Whitman's Interview

Graydon Whitman, who worked in the Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge, speaks about General Leslie R. Groves and his pivotal leadership in the Manhattan Project. Whitman also discusses life at Oak Ridge, from the bus system to the tennis court dances to secrecy and security.

Lucille Whitman's Interview

Lucille Whitman, a native Tennessean, came to work for Tennessee Eastman at Oak Ridge straight out of high school. She tells us about life at Oak Ridge and the secrecy surrounding their work during the Manhattan Project.

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