The Manhattan Project

Los Alamos, NM

Jay Shelton

Jay Shelton is an American physicist and science and math teacher. In this interview, he recalls his experiences from nearly three decades as a high school teacher in Northern New Mexico. He provides an overview of how radiation works and how alpha, beta, and gamma rays differ. Shelton explains the health risks associated with radiation and stresses the importance of quantitative analyses of risks from certain radiation sources. He argues that the general public often overplays many of these risks.

Clay Perkins

Clay Perkins is a physicist, philanthropist, and collector of Manhattan Project artifacts and replicas. In this interview, he discusses his vast collection of weapons and he became interested in nuclear weapons and Manhattan Project history.

Nick Salazar

Nick Salazar is a longtime Los Alamos National Laboratory employee and New Mexico State Representative. He has remained close to Los Alamos his entire career, from spending his high school summers as a mess hall attendant during the Manhattan Project to becoming a member of the laboratory’s Board of Governors. In this interview, he discusses his numerous experiences with the laboratory, including his 42-year career as a research scientist and his goal of improving relations between the laboratory and northern New Mexico’s communities.

Nick Salazar's Interview

[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Willie Atencio: All right. Mr. Nick Salazar, we want to interview you because we know you remember a lot of things about Los Alamos. Can you first tell us the first time you went to Los Alamos?

Nick Salazar: As an employee?

Lydia Martinez

Lydia Martinez (1926-), from the neighboring community of El Rancho, worked at Los Alamos in various jobs during and after the Manhattan Project.

Martinez started work at Los Alamos in 1943. She was a baby-sitter and housekeeper for families such as the Fermis, Tellers, Gordons, and Critchfields. She also worked as a junior technician in the X-7 group at South Mesa.

Isabel Torres's Interview

[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Willie Atencio: Can you tell us about your parents and where they lived? 

Isabel Torres: You want the names of them too?

Atencio: Yes, please. 

Torres: My father’s name was Manuel Antonio Vigil, and my mother’s name was Carmelita Esquivel Vigil.

Rachel Erlanger's Interview

Cindy Kelly: This is Tuesday, November 8, 2016, in New York City. My name is Cindy Kelly, and I am here with Rachel Erlanger. Now, first thing you should do is say your name and then spell it.

Rachel Erlanger: All right. R-a-c-h-e-l and Erlanger, E-r-l-a-n-g as in Gertrude, -e-r. But, I wasn’t married then, was I? I think maybe you want my maiden name.

Kelly: What was your maiden name?

Esther Vigil's Interview

[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Willie Atencio: Okay, we’ll try to do this informally. First of all, can you tell us about where you were born and who your parents were?

Esther Vigil: I was born in San Pedro. My mother was Maria Teofila Ortiz Lujan, and my father was Pedro Jose Lujan.

Atencio: Did you go to school in the Española Valley before?

Esther Vigil

Esther Vigil was living in the Espanola Valley with her family when Los Alamos was selected as a site for the Manhattan Project. She attended school at Los Alamos for several years. Both she and her mother worked at Los Alamos, babysitting for famous scientists like Edward Teller and Stanislaus Ulam. Vigil also worked for the Supply and Property Department. In this interview, she discusses not only her experiences at Los Alamos but also her later contributions to preserving local culture, a passion her mother also shared.

Pages

Subscribe to Los Alamos, NM