The Manhattan Project

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

Santa Fe, NM

Dorothy McKibbin's Interview (1979)

Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with Dorothy McKibbin in Santa Fe, July 20, 1979.

Dorothy McKibbin: Santa Fe?

Sherwin: It sure is, but it’s not going to be my last. I’m enjoying it thoroughly.

McKibbin: Great country.

Sherwin: It is. It’s just beautiful, and, of course, we’re having such fantastic weather now. If I could put this—

McKibbin: The most wonderful summer climate I have ever encountered, and I’ve been a lot of places.

Murray Peshkin's Interview

Murray Peshkin:  Well, how did I get involved in the Manhattan Project? I was an undergraduate student at Cornell University. A group of about ten, who were studying physics. It was clear that we could not be kept out of the Army very long. They were looking for programs in which we could serve usefully. I really believed that there was something else behind it.

John Mench

John Mench was assigned to the Special Engineer Detachment at Los Alamos where he worked as a pattern maker, creating wooden casts for metal work at the site’s foundry.

John Mench's Interview

Mench: I am John Mench and sixty years ago I was a young man with a wife and a baby girl, a good job in industrial deferment, a brand new home and a mortgage. Inside of a week or two, I had in my hand a ticket to a camp, an Army camp, an industrial deferment that was cancelled. I still had a wife and a baby daughter but they were now living with my wife’s sister, and my home was rented. The only thing that hadn’t changed was the mortgage.

Val Fitch's Interview

Val Fitch: My name is Val Logsdon Fitch. It’s V-A-L L-O-G-S-D-O-N F-I-T-C-H. And the Logsdon is my mother’s maiden name. Where Val comes from, I have no idea. Except it was a favorite name of my mother’s.

Cindy Kelly: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you happened to end up at Los Alamos during the war.

Val Fitch

Val Fitch is a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. He was drafted into the Special Engineer Detachment, and remembers George Kistiakowsky getting the SED special exemptions from their military duties so they could work harder on the Project. He was sent to Wendover, UT to observe the dummy bomb tests. He worked on the detonation team for the Trinity test, and recalls witnessing the test. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1980.

Adrienne Lowry's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation from Washington, D.C. and it is Tuesday, January 14, 2014 and I am here with Adrienne Lowry, who was married to Joseph Kennedy, a radio chemist with the Manhattan Project. Adrienne, let us start with you. Can you tell us your name, say your name and spell it, please?

Adrienne Lowry: Oh, my name is Adrienne Kennedy Lowry. Adrienne is spelled A-d-r-i-e-n-n-e, and Lowry is spelled L-o-w-r-y.

Dorothy McKibbin's Interview (1965)

Stephane Groueff: If you can tell me even before you came here briefly, your life before and how you happened to be here.

McKibbin: Well, I was brought up in Kansas City, and went to Smith College and traveled a great deal with my father after my graduation, through Europe, through Alaska, through South America.

Groueff: So, your father was—

McKibbin: A lawyer in Kansas City.

Winston Dabney's Interview (2003)

Winston Dabney: I’m Winston Dabney. I was born in Virginia, near Richmond, Virginia. I was inducted into the service on July 4, 1941. I was warned as I was going in, “Go for one year and then get out.” And it so happened I had about six months before the war actually started and I received my basic training. I went in at Fort Belmont, North Carolina because I was working down in North Carolina at the time.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

In this rare interview, J. Robert Oppenheimer talks about the organization of the Manhattan Project and some of the scientists that he helped to recruit during the earliest days of the project. Oppenheimer discusses some of the biggest challenges that scientists faced during the project, including developing a sound method for implosion and purifying plutonium. Oppie recalls his daily routine at Los Alamos, including taking his son to nursery school.

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