The Manhattan Project

Oral Histories

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.

Mary Lowe Michel's Interview

Mary Michel worked at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project and discusses living in the “Secret City” and the general social scene, also going into safety procedures at the K-25 Plant. She also discusses her reaction to the news of the use of the atomic bombs against the Japanese.

Robert Ellingson's Interview

Robert Ellingson came to work on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he met his wife and has lived ever since, and speaks fondly of life and work—he was employed in the Y-12 plant—in the “Secret City.”

Evelyn Ellingson's Interview

Evelyn Ellingson describes working as a woman at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, expounding on the security measures but also the vibrant social life of a city populated predominantly by young men and women in their early twenties.

Stirling Auchincloss Colgate's Interview

Stirling Auchincloss Colgate was a student at the Los Alamos Ranch School when the site was chosen for use in the Manhattan Project, and he describes the visits of J. Robert Oppenheimer and other project leaders. Mr. Colgate left Los Alamos to go to college and study physics, later working with many of the renowned scientists from the project.

Colleen Black's Interview (2005)

Colleen Black was one of the many women who lived and worked in the secret cities of the Manhattan Project. In Oak Ridge, she worked in the leak-testing department, ensuring the efficiency of pipes used during experimental testing. In this first interview, Black discusses everyday life, secrecy, and working as a woman on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. From housing to security, Ms. Black discusses the hardships of living at Oak Ridge while revealing the positive attitude and happiness of those living there.

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