The Manhattan Project

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

University Involvement in the Manhattan Project

James Forde's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly of the Atomic Heritage Foundation. Today is Thursday, May 2, 2013. I have with me here James Forde, who is going to try to remember something about his Manhattan Project days in New York City. I am going to start with an easy question, which is to have him tell us his full name and spell it. 

Lawrence S. O'Rourke's Interview

Cindy Kelly: This is Cindy Kelly at Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is March 20, 2013 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. And we are delighted to have Larry O’Rourke. His first question is to tell us your name and spell it, please.

Lawrence S. O’Rourke: I am Lawrence S. O’Rourke, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E S-for Stephen O’Rourke, O-’-R-O-U-R-K-E.  And, I like to be known as Larry. 

Kelly: Perfect, Larry. Please tell us your birthdate and where you were born.

Cambridge, MA

Harvard University

Harvard became an important center for nuclear physics research during the early twentieth century. After Ernest O. Lawrence constructed the first cyclotron at the University of California at Berkeley in 1929, Harvard physicists and engineers such as Harry Mimno, Kenneth Bainbridge, and Edward Purcell began thinking about building their own cylcotron. In 1936, the construction of the cyclotron began in the Gordon McKay laboratory, a wooden World War I building on the east side of Oxford Street. The magnet in the cyclotron weighed eighty-five tons.

Princeton University

Princeton University was a hotbed for nuclear physics research during the early twentieth century. Much of the research conducted at Princeton allowed scientists to develop and pursue a path to building the world's first atomic device. In fact, more than two dozen Princetonians were among the core group of brains at Los Alamos, N.M.

Jay Wechsler's Interview

Jay Wechsler: Well, my mother was visiting her folks in New York when she decided that it was time, and I was the first child, and I guess she was a little surprised. So I was born in New York even though we didn’t live there. And as soon as we were able we were back in New Jersey, where she and my father lived. My father was a chemist and even at a young age he was always taking me into the plant where he worked, showing me things. And I kind of had a mechanical bend or bent.

George Cowan's Interview (2006)

George Cowan: It's weighted so heavily in favor—not in favor of—but the emphasis on number one Los Alamos, and then Oak Ridge, and then Hanford, as the three secret cities or something. But the fact is the Met Lab at Chicago was enormously important. The Stagg Field reactor was historic in ’42, and its sort of dismissed. 

Donald Trauger's Interview

Donald Trauger: Yes, I’m Donald Trauger. And Trauger is T-R-A-U-G-E-R, Trauger. My mother-in-law when we first married would say auger, Trauger so she could remember it. [Laughter.]

Kelly: All right. Well, tell us how you came to Oak Ridge and how—what you did as your role in the Manhattan Project; where you were from and how you got involved.

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