The Manhattan Project

Life in the Secret Cities

Valeria Steele Roberson's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Tell us about your work and what you’ve learned about the African Americans who worked here in Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project.

Valeria Steele Roberson: I became interested in this project when I was a little girl. My grandmother used to tell us stories about the ‘40s, how they came here and left their children back in Alabama with their grandmother. She would always talk about giving one day to the bomb, and about the rats, and the plank sidewalks, and all those kinds of things.

Samuel Beall Jr.'s Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Thursday, April 26, 2018, and I’m in Knoxville, Tennessee with Sam Beall. First question for you is to say your full name and spell it.

Sam Beall: My full name is Samuel Erasmus Beall, B-e-a-l-l. Some people call “Beale,” we call “Bell.”

Kelly: Okay, great. So, Sam, tell me about yourself. When were you born and where?

Beall: It was in 1919, and I will be 99 in just about three weeks.

Kelly: Wow. Congratulations.

Gordon Garrett's Interview

Nathaniel Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Friday, December 22, 2017, and we’re here in Washington, D.C. with Mr. Gordon Garrett. And my first question for you is if you could please tell me your name and spell it.

Gordon Garrett: My name is Gordon Garrett. That’s G-o-r-d-o-n G-a-r-r-e-t-t.

Weisenberg: Let’s begin at the beginning. Can you tell me when and where you were born?

Garrett: I was born in Johnson City, Tennessee. March 13, 1937.

Harris Mayer's Interview

Nathaniel Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg. I’m here with Harris Mayer in Los Alamos, New Mexico. It’s October 11, 2017. My first question: if you could just say your name for the camera and spell it, please.

Harris Mayer: My name is Harris Mayer, H-a-r-r-i-s M-a-y-e-r.

Weisenberg: Thank you. I know you had a story that you wanted to begin with, so I will let you go ahead.

Victor Kumin

Victor Kumin was a young scientist when he was drafted to the U.S. Army in 1944. In September of that year, he was transferred to Los Alamos. Here he was part of the Special Engineer Detachment (SED). 

Peter Malmgren's Interview

Peter Malmgren: Okay. My name is Peter Malmgren. It’s spelled M-a-l-m-g-r-e-n. My Spanish neighbors find it impossible to pronounce, but that in fact is my Norwegian family name.

Nate Weisenberg: Where did you grow up?

Malmgren: Newark, New Jersey.

Weisenberg: When you were growing up, did you have a particular interest in oral history?

Mary Kennedy

Mary Whittlesey Kennedy moved to Oak Ridge as a teenager in 1943 when her mother took a job there. In this interview, Mary discusses her years at Oak Ridge including her high school, school dances, and her involvement in clubs such as “the Penguin Club.” She fondly recalls her time in Oak Ridge. She also remembers her mixed reaction to the news of the atomic bomb and how her opinion has changed over the years.

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