The Manhattan Project

Oral Histories

David Hall's Interview

David Hall and his wife, Jane Hamilton, went as a team to Hanford. Also a physicist, she worked in the medical-safety division. In later years, he became head of the reactor division at Los Alamos and Jane Hamilton was the assistant director at Los Alamos. In this interview, Hall discusses his Manhattan Project work at the Chicago Met Lab and Hanford, and how he and his wife came to work at Los Alamos after the war.

Dale Babcock's Interview (1986)

Dale Babcock was a physical chemist and colleague of Crawford Greenewalt, himself a chemical engineer who married a DuPont and eventually became president of the company. Greenewalt had been working in the development of nylon, but had to put that aside when he became technical director of the firm's Manhattan Project contracts. Greenewalt took Babcock and a few other close DuPont colleagues with him into the new world of atomic energy. Although Babcock eventually became an expert on nuclear reactors, he also did research on heavy water, an expensive and difficult alternative for graph­ite in reactor operation.

Cyril S. Smith's Interview

Cyril Stanley Smith was a metallurgist who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos and at the Met Lab in Chicago. Smith helped develop the methods for refining radioactive uranium and plutonium into solid metal form and then shaping them into the spheres that were used in the Trinity, Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. He discusses the extensive process involved in making the cores, including the casting of the spheres and making of uranium and plutonium alloys. He also discusses the challenges that went into set-up the day before the Trinity test. After the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission. He discusses life after the Manhattan Project, as well as knowing now-famous spy Klaus Fuchs at Los Alamos.

C. N. Gross's Interview

A native of the West Virginia mountains, C. N. Gross came to Hanford in January, 1944, from Wilmington, to be a reactor consultant. He and his wife decided to stay after 1946 when Du Pont left and General Electric took over. They liked the atomic energy business as well as the Eastern Washington sunshine, and GE offered a good job at a time when Du Pont management people were stacked four deep on the East Coast. In this interview, Gross elaborates on his role in the building of the Hanford reactors as a contact man between operations and construction. He discusses the mechanics of the reactors, and also describes his reactions to the bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

C. Marc Miller's Interview

C. Marc Miller selected sites for the Army during World War II. In 1943, he was asked to prepare an area in the Priest Rapids Valley for acquisition. Part of acquisition was appraising landowners and compensating them accordingly; appraisals were so unjustly low that Miller resigned his Corps of Engineers position and offered landowners counter-appraisals.

Bill and Louise Cease's Interview

Bill Cease worked in the 100 and 300 areas at Hanford, working as a patrolman and later as an operator at B Reactor and D Reactor. His wife Louise accompanied him to Hanford, and worked at Penney's. In this interview, Bill discusses how he came to work at Hanford in 1944 after working in Bridgeport, PA, at the Remington Plant making explosives. Bill elaborates on the various roles he had at Hanford, what working conditions were like, the technical aspects of his work, and his reactions to the bomb. Bill and Louise also discuss social life at Hanford, what the living conditions were like, and how the dust impacted them.

Betsy Stuart's Interview

Betsy Stuart worked as a secretary for the electrical engineering department at Hanford. Her husband, Charles F. "Stud" Stuart, was a personnel troubleshooter for DuPont at Hanford. Mrs. Stuart recalls various pleasures and annoyances of living and working in Hanford. Stuart also elaborates on her reaction to the bombs being dropped.

Annette Heriford's Interview

Annette Heriford was a resident of Hanford prior to and during the Manhattan Project. In 1943, she, along with other residents of her hometown, were pushed out by the government to make room for the project. She discusses life in and around Hanford, both prior to and during the Manhattan Project. She highlights daily activities and the relationship between men and women at Hanford.

Alvin M. Weinberg's Interview

Alvin Weinberg was an American nuclear physicist who was in charge of the multiplication factor estimates for reactors in the Manhattan Project. He served as an assistant to Eugene Wigner, with whom he began to work at the University of Chicago in 1941, while taking frequent trips to Oak Ridge. Along with Wigner’s team, Weinberg assisted in designing reactors. He also contributed to the development of peaceful applications of nuclear power. Weinberg discusses Wigner’s rush to create the reactor due to the threat of a German atomic bomb, highlighting both the conflict and cooperation with DuPont.

Ray Stein's Interview

Ray Stein's Interview

A member of the Special Engineer Detachment, Ray Stein participated in the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, working at the Y-12 Plant. He tells the story of security and secrecy during the project. At Y-12, he and his fellow SED members donned civilian clothes and were told to keep an eye out for possible saboteurs or spies.

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