The Manhattan Project

Oral Histories

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.

Bill Tewes' Interview

William E. Tewes' Interview (April 2013)

William E. Tewes worked on the gaseous diffusion process at the Nash Garage Building under Dr. Francis Slack, testing the barrier material. He recalls the Nazi invasion of Poland and how the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the country together.

James Forde's Interview

James Forde's Interview

James Forde was a lab assistant in the Nash Garage Building, where scientists worked on developing the gaseous diffusion process. Seventeen year-old Forde was the lone African-American in the midst of PhD scientists. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he immediately realized that his job cleaning pipes was related to the bomb.

Richard Shepard's Interview

Richard Shepard's Interview

Richard Shepard joined the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, working in the K-25 Plant as a member of the Special Engineer Detachment. With many family members serving overseas in the military, he explains his personal reaction to the end of the war. He discusses his later work in nuclear science, including the Bikini Tests.