The Manhattan Project

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

Oak Ridge, TN

Ruth Huddleston

Ruth Huddleston was born in Windrock, Tennessee. During the Manhattan Project, she got a job at Oak Ridge as a cubicle operator or “Calutron girl” at the Y-12 Plant. In this interview, she recounts her experiences at Y-12. She describes the bus ride to Oak Ridge, operating the calutrons, and the emphasis on secrecy. She recalls how she had mixed feelings after learning about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and talks about her career as a teacher and guidance counselor.

Thomas Mason's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Thursday, April 21 [misspoke: April 19], 2018, and I’m in Columbus, Ohio with Thom Mason. My first question to him is to say his full name and spell it.

Thomas Mason: My name’s Thomas Mason. T-H-O-M-A-S M-A-S-O-N.

Kelly: The first thing I wanted to have you tell us about is yourself. Where you were born, what kind of education you had, and why you became a scientist.

Thomas Mason

Thomas (Thom) Mason is the President and CEO of Triad National Security, LLC and the director designate of Los Alamos National Laboratory. A condensed matter physicist, he previously served as the director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 2007-2017, and as Senior Vice President for Global Laboratory Operations at Battelle. In this interview, Mason describes some of the major scientific projects at Oak Ridge from the Manhattan Project to today, including the Spallation Neutron Source, nuclear reactor development, scientific computing, and nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

Virginia Coleman's Interview

[Note: This interview contains graphic descriptions of a car accident and a discussion of sexual abuse.]

Nathaniel Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg. I am here with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. We’re in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It is Wednesday, April 25, 2018, and I am here with Virginia Coleman. My first question for you is if you could please say your name and spell it. 

Virginia Coleman

Virginia S. Coleman grew up in Louisburg, North Carolina. She was a chemist at the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project, and was one of the women featured in Denise Kiernan’s book “The Girls of Atomic City.” In this interview, she remembers arriving at Oak Ridge and her wait in the “bullpen” until she could be cleared to work there. Coleman describes the projects she was involved with and remembers some of her colleagues. She also describes riding the bus at Oak Ridge and her experiences as a social worker after the war.

Benjamin Bederson's Interview (2018)

Cindy Kelly: My name is Cindy Kelly from the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Thursday, February 1, 2018 in New York City. I have with me Benjamin Bederson. I would like to ask him to say his name and spell it, please.

Ben Bederson: I am Benjamin Bederson. Benjamin, B-E-N-J-A-M-I-N, Bederson, B like Boy, E-D like David, E-R-S-O-N.

Kelly:  Great. Ben, we were just chatting about your background and your parents, who came from Russia. Could you talk about your childhood and your parents?

Dieter Gruen's Interview (2018)

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, it is Tuesday, February 6, 2018. I’m in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida, and I have with me Dieter Gruen. I want him first to say his name and then spell it.

Dieter Gruen: My name is Dieter Gruen, D-i-e-t-e-r G-r-u-e-n. 

Kelly: Thank you very much. Now, I want to start back to your childhood. Maybe you can tell us when you were born, and where. 

William K. Coors

William "Bill" K. Coors was born August 11, 1916 in Golden, Colorado. His grandfather, Adolph Coors, was the founder of the Coors Brewing Company. Coors attended Philips Exeter Academy, and then Princeton, before taking over Coors’s porcelain business. During the Manhattan Project, Coors helped construct and supply the high-quality ceramic insulators that were used in the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge, TN.

Samuel Beall Jr.'s Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Thursday, April 26, 2018, and I’m in Knoxville, Tennessee with Sam Beall. First question for you is to say your full name and spell it.

Sam Beall: My full name is Samuel Erasmus Beall, B-e-a-l-l. Some people call “Beale,” we call “Bell.”

Kelly: Okay, great. So, Sam, tell me about yourself. When were you born and where?

Beall: It was in 1919, and I will be 99 in just about three weeks.

Kelly: Wow. Congratulations.

Samuel Beall Jr.

Samuel Beall Jr. is a nuclear engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project at Chicago, IL, Oak Ridge, TN, and Hanford, WA.

Beall was born in 1919 in Plains, Georgia, and grew up in the nearby town of Richland. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1942 with a degree in electrical engineering and was hired by the DuPont Company.

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