Jackie Peterson is an independent curator and exhibit developer in Seattle, Washington. She curated an exhibition called “The Atomic Frontier: Black Life at Hanford” at the Northwest African American Museum from October 2015-March 2016. In this interview, Peterson describes the exhibition and what she learned about African American experiences at Hanford during the Manhattan Project. She explains how African Americans came to the Tri-Cities, the kinds of work they were able to obtain, and the (largely informal) segregation they faced.
Nathaniel Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg. I am here with the Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. It is Tuesday, May 22, 2018, and I am here with Philip S. Anderson. My first question for you is if you could please tell me your name and spell it.
Philip S. Anderson: My name is Philip S. Anderson, P-h-i-l-i-p, middle initial S, A-n-d-e-r-s-o-n.
Weisenberg: Why don’t we sort of start at the beginning. Can you tell me when and where you were born?
Philip S. Anderson, Jr. lived in Oak Ridge from his second-grade year through his junior year of high school. His father, an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was responsible for housing at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project; his mother was active in the Oak Ridge community. In this interview, Anderson remembers his childhood in Oak Ridge, describing the level of secrecy in the city and hikes with his friends. He also recounts his reaction to the bombing of Hiroshima and his fond memories of being a Boy Scout in Oak Ridge.
Cindy Kelly: All right. We can start with something very simple. Tell us your name and spell it.
Bill Ginkel: I’m Bill Ginkel, G-i-n-k-e-l. I came to Idaho in 1950 out of the Manhattan Project and its successor agency. I was actually employed by the Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge in connection with material accountability at the time, and the opportunity to come to Idaho emerged. I was a little skeptical to start with, but it seemed like an extraordinary challenge to get in at the beginning of an operation as potentially big as it was.
Bill Ginkel served as the Manager of Office Operations for the Idaho Falls laboratory of the Atomic Energy Commission. In this interview, he describes his experience working at the facility beginning in 1950. He recalls the pioneering work conducted at the laboratory and the occasional methodological divide between the scientists and engineers. He also explains the transformative effects the influx of nuclear scientist had upon the local community and the state, and why the area was referred to as “The Site.”
Kelly: You can tell us your name, and spell it.
Meservey: Okay. Richard Meservey. Most people call me Dick, and Meservey is spelled M-e-s-e-r-v-e-y.
Kelly: Why don’t you tell us, what’s your educational background, and what brought you to the site and when?
Richard “Dick” Meservey is a nuclear physicist who worked at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). In this interview, he describes the rewarding projects he worked on at INL including the Special Power Excursion Reactor Test and the Advanced Test Reactor. He lauds the unusual freedom that scientists enjoyed working in Idaho Falls, and explains why he came to love living in Idaho Falls.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and today is Wednesday, April 25th, 2018. I have with me TJ Paulus. My first question for you is to say your full name and spell it.
TJ Paulus: Sure. Thomas Joseph Paulus. The last name is like the boy’s name Paul, P-a-u-l-u-s.
Kelly: Great. The first thing I want to know about is something about you—your childhood, where you were born and when.
Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Thursday, April 26, 2018. If you could say and spell your name?
Patricia Postma: Right. I go by Pat, but it’s P-a-t-r-i-c-i-a P-o-s-t-m-a.
Kelly: Great. So tell me, how do you fit into Oak Ridge?
Nathaniel Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg, and I am here recording this oral history interview for the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is April 25, 2018. I am here with Ruth Huddleston. If you could start by saying your full name and spelling it, please.
Ruth Huddleston: Ruth Huddleston, H-U-D-D-L-E-S-T-O-N.
Weisenberg: Let’s begin at the beginning. Can you tell me about when and where you were born?