The Manhattan Project

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

Oral Histories

Rex Buck

Rex Buck's Interview

Rex Buck, a member of the Wanapum Indian tribe, grew up near the Manhattan Project site at Hanford along the Columbia River. When the government selected Hanford as a site for plutonium production, Buck and the rest of the Wanapum tribes were forced off their land. Buck discusses the impact of being forced off aboriginal lands and how the tribe coped with this event. He also discusses the Indians’ connection with the land and expresses his hope for future generations of Wanapum Indians.

Ben Diven

Ben Diven's Interview

Ben Diven discusses helping set up Los Alamos for the Manhattan Project and working on instrumentation for the atomic bomb. He speaks highly of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s leadership abilities and the colloquium Oppenheimer began to allow all the scientists at Los Alamos to discuss problems and exchange ideas.

Becky Diven

Rebecca Bradford Diven's Interview

Becky Diven began her work for the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos in 1944, where she developed a quartz fiber microbalance to weigh extremely small amounts of plutonium. Diven discusses what it was like for women working at the Manhattan Project and talks about workers’ relations with the Pueblos, most of whom worked as maids or janitors.

Dee McCullough

Dee McCullough's Interview

Dee McCullough began working as an instrument technician at Hanford in early 1944. As a former sound engineer, McCullough was tasked with installing nuclear safety monitors on the reactors at Hanford. McCullough, who worked closely with many of the famous scientists at the Manhattan project, discusses his interactions with Enrico Fermi and Leona Woods Marshall. In addition, he talks about the various safety methods DuPont put in place to protect their workers.

Paul Vinther

Paul Vinther's Interview

Paul Vinther arrived in Hanford in 1950 where he worked as a physicist and reactor operator. Vinther discusses, in detail, DuPont’s safety philosophy as well as many of the safety measures put in place to protect workers at the plant. Vinther also discusses the impact of nuclear radiation on the wildlife and the various tests conducted to measure the environmental impact.

Jack Aeby

Jack Aeby's Interview

Jack Aeby was one of the first civilian employees on the Manhattan Project, and captured the only color photograph of the Trinity test. He worked in many areas, starting with transporting people from Lamy to 109 E. Palace Avenue in Santa Fe and then on up the Hill. He was put in charge of the chemical stockroom. Aeby moved to P-5 (Physics Group 5) with Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain. He reactivated the Los Alamos Ranch School’s Boy Scout Troop 22 on demand of the school superintendent. He discusses working with Emilio Segrè at Los Alamos, and how his famous photo of the Trinity test came about.

Steve Buckingham F9 480p 16x9

Steve Buckingham's Interview

Steve Buckingham, a chemist, worked at the Hanford site beginning in 1947. He explains how the B Reactor worked, and applauds the ingenuity of the designers of the T-plant.

Donald Trauger

Donald Trauger's Interview

Donald Trauger became involved in the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, working on the gaseous diffusion process. He discusses the science of isotope separation and also the decision to use the atomic bomb.

Joseph Dykstra

Joe Dykstra's Interview

Joe Dykstra joined the Manhattan Project with Hooker Electrochemical Company at Oak Ridge, working at K-25 on the gaseous diffusion process. He discusses the debate over the bomb and the attitude of those working on the project.

George Mahfouz

George Mahfouz's Interview

George Mahfouz became involved in the Manhattan Project first in Decatur, Illinois building gaseous diffusion tubes for the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Later, Mr. Mahfouz was involved in the Dayton Project, working on the process to make the trigger for the atomic bomb.

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