The Manhattan Project

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

Y-12 Plant

Herman Snyder's Interview

Herman Snyder: My name is Herman Snyder, H-E-R-M-AN S-N-Y-D-E-R. 

Cindy Kelly: Great, good job. All right, now, maybe we can pick up the thread of that story. If you can tell us your experience, and compress it a little bit because I want to spend most of the time talking about your experience here at Oak Ridge and K-25. But I do like the idea that you were, you know, shoved away, that you were in this place with all these tests, and, you know, provocative. That was good. I think that’s interesting.

Herman Snyder

Herman Snyder worked on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge as a soldier in the Special Engineer Detachment. He worked at the K-25 Plant for many years, and later at the Y-12 Plant. He discusses the many innovations that caused K-25 to run so smoothly and to be built so quickly. Snyder also reminisces about the sense of community at Oak Ridge, and recalls having to scrounge a pass to get his new bride through the gates into Oak Ridge.  

James R. Chapman

James R. Chapman worked on the Manhattan Project for Stone and Webster, which helped build the Y-12 Plant. He talks about his work at Oak Ridge, and especially the time pressure that the project faced and the speed with which he and his fellow engineers worked. He also discusses the day-to-day lives of scientists working at Oak Ridge.

Dunell Cohn's Interview

Cindy Kelly: It is January 14, 2014, and we are in St. Louis, Missouri. And I want to ask the first question of you, which is to tell us your name and spell it. 

Dunell Cohn: My complete name is Dunell Edlin Cohn, D-U-N-E-L-L. Edlin is E-D-L-I-N. And the last name is Cohn, C-O-H-N.

Kelly: Very good. 

Dunell Cohn

Dunell Cohn was born in Oak Ridge in 1944. Cohn’s father, Waldo, was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project in Chicago in 1942 for his work on radioisotopes at Berkeley and Harvard during the 1930s. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to Oak Ridge, where he developed a method to separate the fission products from the nuclear reactor. He also pioneered the radioisotope program at Oak Ridge, producing radioisotopes in large quantities that could then be used for medical and biological research.

Esther Stenstrom's Interview

Alexandra Levy: We are here on December 27th in Florida. This is Alexandra Levy. I am with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. And we are here today with Esther Stenstrom. My first question for you is to please say your name and to spell it. 

Esther Stenstrom: My name is Esther L. Stenstrom, E-S-T-H-E-R, middle initial L, S-T-E-N-S-T-R-O-M. 

Levy: Where and when were you born?

Stenstrom: I was born in Crescent City, Florida, March 9, 1922. 

Esther Stenstrom

Esther Stenstrom arrived at Oak Ridge in 1943, after she and her husband were picked to work in the secret city. Strenstrom worked alongside her husband in the engineering department at the Y-12 Plant as a mechanical drawer. She recalls how rationing affected life for civilians living and working in Oak Ridge and how social events offered a respite for the community members.  

Ray Smith's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Okay, let us get started. Cindy Kelly with Atomic Heritage Foundation, September 6, 2013. I am here with Smith. The first question is please say your name and spell it. 

Ray Smith: My name is Smith. That is R-A-Y S-M-I-T-H. I am the historian at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

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