The Manhattan Project

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & HistoryNational Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Decatur, IL

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.

Lauchlin M. Currie's Interview

Stephane Groueff: Recording of interview with Dr. Lauchlin Currie, C-U-R-R-I-E; New York, May 13, 1965.

Dr. Lauchlin Currie: When the war broke out I was superintendent of the Bakelite Plant at Bound Brook, New Jersey. As a reserve officer then, I got reassigned to work on the proximity fuse program.

Groueff: You were in uniform?

Currie: Oh no.

Groueff: You were just Major of the—

Lauchlin M. Currie

Dr. Lauchlin Currie, a chemical engineer, worked in barrier production at the Houdaille-Hershey plant in Decatur, IL. He also worked on graphite production in West Virginia and North Carolina. He discusses a number of the other companies involved in the Manhattan Project, including Kellex and Union Carbide. He also discusses the people he worked alongside, and how their temperaments came together to make the Project run.

Thomas O. Jones' Interview

I was in the Army drafted, classified for counter-intelligence work for reasons I will never understand.  I got into that, investigative work as an enlisted man and after about a year I was commissioned also in counter-intelligence work.  I continued there in the 6th service command in Chicago in that kind of work.  One day to my surprise I found myself in the main office of the G-2 part of the service command there.  A man from Washington was due there, an officer, for unspecified reasons.  It happened to be a day on which there was a large meeting elsewhere and a sub

Thomas O. Jones

Thomas O. Jones volunteered to join the Army before the start of WWII. As the war began to unfold in Europe, Jones was placed in a sub-organization of the Army called the Counterintelligence Corps. Eventually, his work in the Counterintelligence Corps led him to being involved with the Manhattan Project. Jones oversaw many of the operations taking place in places like Chicago, Decatur and Ames, IA. He recounts witnessing three of the five bomb testings during his time working on the project.

Lawrence S. O'Rourke's Interview

Cindy Kelly: This is Cindy Kelly at Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is March 20, 2013 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. And we are delighted to have Larry O’Rourke. His first question is to tell us your name and spell it, please.

Lawrence S. O’Rourke: I am Lawrence S. O’Rourke, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E S-for Stephen O’Rourke, O-’-R-O-U-R-K-E.  And, I like to be known as Larry. 

Kelly: Perfect, Larry. Please tell us your birthdate and where you were born.

George Mahfouz's Interview

Cynthia Kelly: Why don’t you start, George, by telling us your name and spelling it.

George Mahfouz: I’m George Mahfouz, last name is spelled M-A-H-F-, as in Frank, -O-U-Z, as in zebra.

Kelly: Is that Egyptian? 

Mahfouz: It’s Middle Eastern. The name is Syrian. 

Kelly: Anyways, sorry, next question—tell us about your background, you know, where you went to college...

George Mahfouz

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.

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