People across the continental United States were captivated by the solar eclipse that took place on August 21. Oak Ridge, which was in the path of totality of the eclipse, hosted events, and many visitors enjoyed watching the eclipse from the American Museum of Science and Energy  and other sites. In advance of the event, AHF staff enjoyed reading about the scientific significance of eclipses. This New York Times article explains how a 1919 solar eclipse helped confirm Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.

The composite image of the eclipse above from NASA/Aubrey Gemignani is our favorite photo of this spectacular event!

MurdockAHF Receives Grant from M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust 

The Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) is pleased to announce a $198,000 grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust of Vancouver, WA for interpreting the history of the Manhattan Project and its legacy. One hundred thousand dollars will be awarded outright with $98,000 contingent on raising a one-to-one match.
The B Reactor at Hanford
As Richard Rhodes, Chairman of AHF's  Board, commented, "Murdock's generous grant will help preserve many more stories of Manhattan Project participants, including African Americans, Hispanics, women and others who are underrepresented in official accounts. This project will provide valuable insight into the human dimensions of the Manhattan Project and its continuing legacy."
The focus of the grant is the world-changing developments in nuclear science and technology in the Pacific Northwest during World War II and the Cold War and their continuing social, economic and environmental legacies. These new resources will enrich the experience of visitors to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which has units at Hanford, WA, Los Alamos, NM, and Oak Ridge, TN. They will also be available to students, educators, journalists and other audiences online.
An African-American worker at Hanford  during 
the Manhattan Project
The project has two major components. First, AHF will develop two interpretive programs for its responsive "Ranger in Your Pocket" website . One program will address the environmental legacy of the Hanford site in eastern Washington State. A series of audio/visual vignettes will  examine techniques developed to monitor radioactivity and to control exposure , and the environmental and health consequences of plutonium  production operations at Hanford. AHF will draw from the accounts of veterans, "downwinders," historians, government officials, and experts.

The other "Ranger in Your Pocket" program will focus on the experiences of African-Americans at Hanford during the Manhattan Project and Cold War. The program will highlight  the contributions of the thousands of African-Americans who worked as laborers, construction workers or operational staff during World War II. Their contributions and the discrimination they faced have often been overlooked in historical scholarship. 

Second, the project will expand the Atomic Heritage Foundation's "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website.  As part of the project, AHF will transcribe and publish over 30 interviews recorded in 2005 with the scientists and engineers who tested the early designs for nuclear reactors for the Atomic Energy Commission in Idaho.  As Bill Ginkel, former Manager of the Idaho Operations Office, explained: "We were building things that had never been built before. In many cases, the only solution was one you had to dream up. No one had done this before."

The EBR-I in Idaho
AHF will also record and publish nearly 100 new interviews with Manhattan Project veterans, family members, experts, and others whose lives were affected by the project and its legacy. The oral histories will provide a valuable resource for scholars, museums, documentary filmmakers, journalists, students and the public. By the end of the project, the "Voices" website will have well over 600 fully transcribed video and audio interviews available online.
AHF's Alexandra Levy interviewing 509th Composite Group navigator Jack Widowsky
These projects will be developed in close coordination with the B Reactor Museum Association, Washington State University Tri-Cities and other members of the Hanford History Partnership, Museum of Idaho, as well as the Department of Energy and the National Park Service.
AHF is very grateful to the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust for its invaluable support. Please help AHF match the $98,000 grant. This will enable us to record interviews with Manhattan Project veterans before it is too late. Many thanks!
EventsUpcoming Events
The Oak Ridge 75th
anniversary official logo
September 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Manhattan Project. On August 31, the city of Oak Ridge announced a series of events to commemorate Oak Ridge's 75th anniversary. The city also unveiled a new logo and website for the 75th anniversary. 

The first event will take place on Friday, September 15, 2017 in Grove Theater. Renowned Manhattan Project photographer Ed Westcott will open a photo presentation, followed by a talk by Denise Kiernan, author of the bestselling book The Girls of Atomic City. On September 21, the city will break ground on the new International Friendship Bell Pavilion in A.K. Bissell Park. The event program includes speakers, a shovel ceremony, and a performance by the Oak Valley Baptist Church Choir. For more information and to learn about future events, please visit the Oak Ridge 75th Anniversary website.

Dr. Kenji Shiga leading AHF staff on a tour of an AU exhibition in 2015
The Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS) will host two events in Fuller Lodge this month. On September 10 at 4 PM, the Los Alamos History Museum will welcome Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Director Kenji Shiga and Outreach Manager Kahori Wada. On September 25 at 4 PM, Los Alamos History Museum Director Judith Stauber and LAHS Board Member Michael Redondo will share stories of their August 2017 visit to Japan. During their trip, they attended memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and delivered 1,300 paper cranes folded by visitors to the Museum.

The Mid-Columbia Mastersingers performance announcement
In 2016, Mid-Columbia Mastersingers performed at Hanford's B Reactor. The Tri-City Herald notes, "The Mastersingers' shows last year were the first-ever full concerts inside the B reactor, and were believed to be first-ever choral concerts in such a space anywhere in the world." 

This month the Mastersingers will be back at the B Reactor, performing at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 and 9 and 3 p.m. Sept. 10. The Mastersingers will be performing Annelies by composer James Whitbourn, a cantata based on Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. For more information about the shows and to purchase tickets, please visit the Mastersingers' website
TrinityShirtTrinity Site T-Shirt Now Available
On October 1, the Trinity Site will be open for visitors for just the second time this year. In anticipation of the site being opened, AHF has printed T-shirts featuring the "Gadget" nuclear device and J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie R. Groves at the Trinity Site. The shirts are available in black in sizes small through 3XL. 

The shirts can be purchased on AHF's online store or at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM.

In addition to the shirts, AHF also sells posters and notecards with the Trinity Site design, as well as shirts featuring the Los Alamos Main Gate, Oak Ridge's Chapel on the Hill, and Hanford's B Reactor.
Wreckage of the USS Indianapolis Found

The USS Indianapolis
The USS Indianapolis was one of two Portland-class cruisers built during the early 1930s. During World War II, the ship saw action in New Guinea, the Aleutian Islands, and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. In the summer of 1945, the Indianapolis was selected for a top-secret mission: delivering components of the "Little Boy" atomic bomb.

The Indianapolis set off for Tinian on July 16, 1945, shortly after receiving confirmation of the success of the Trinity Test. It traveled quickly, arriving safely on July 26. The bomb components were unloaded and reassembled on the island. The Indianapolis was subsequently sent to the Philippines, but was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine.

FDR aboard the USS Indianapolis
The ship was almost ripped in half; it sank in just 12 minutes. Of the 1,196 men, around 900 made it into the water. But their ordeal was just beginning. The men grouped together, clung to debris, and sought out rations or life rafts. But no rescue came for four days. Only 317 men survived; 879 crew members perished, including four who died despite being rescued from the water. It was the worst naval disaster in US history.

On August 19, 2017, a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen announced that it had found the wreckage of the Indianapolis, 3½ miles below the surface of the Philippine Sea. "To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling," Allen said.

USS Indianapolis survivors on Guam
Today, nineteen survivors of the Indianapolis are still alive, and gather together every year. Edgar Harrell, who served on the Indianapolis as a corporal, commented on the discovery of the wreckage: "It brings closure to the story," Harrell said. "But the experience that we survived, the trauma that we felt, that still exists. I can still see and feel ... the trauma of swimming those 4½ days. I can still remember today as if it were just yesterday."

Visit AHF's website for more information on the USS Indianapolis and the role of the US Navy in the Manhattan Project.
Movie Review: In This Corner of the World
The Japanese anime film In This Corner of the World tells the story of a young woman, Suzu, who lives near Hiroshima during World War II.

In 1944, Shusaku Hojo, a man Suzu barely knows, asks for her hand in marriage. Suzu moves to the port of Kure, home to a major Japanese naval base and shipyards, to live with Shusaku and his family.  The characters are fictional, but the film is based on extensive research. Dates flash on screen documentary-style as the film re-creates specific events leading up to the fateful day of August 6, 1945. 

Viewers familiar with the history of the Hiroshima bombing will recognize certain references - both the Atomic Dome and the T-shaped Aioi Bridge make an appearance - but this quiet, subtle film focuses more attention on the daily struggles of Suzu and her family than on the actual bombing. The scenes depicting the bombing and its aftermath are brief, harrowing, and powerful.

Some critics have asked whether the film's focus on the experiences and suffering of Japanese civilians may promote narratives of victimization that play down Japan's wartime atrocities. A review in Variety notes, "The alteration of some dialogue in a scene in the original manga, when the heroine realizes her country's oppression of others upon seeing a Korean flag, has provoked domestic debate." Viewers can and should consider these questions. Yet whatever one thinks about this history, In This Corner of the World provides a moving look at daily life and survival during wartime.

For the full review, click here
RoundupHistory Article Roundup
Here is a roundup of some of the most interesting articles published on the history of the Manhattan Project and World War II this month.

William Laurence and General Leslie Groves
American Science and the Nazis: In this opinion piece for NPR, astrophysicist and author Adam Frank explains how refugee scientists who fled fascism in Europe, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard, contributed to American science. Many of these scientists would participate in the Manhattan Project.

- 'Atomic Bill' and the Birth of the Bomb: An excellent article in Undark Magazine about William Laurence, the controversial New York Times science journalist who was allowed exclusive access to the Manhattan Project.

- A Marine took a flag from a fallen Japanese soldier. Decades later, it's back with the soldier's family: 73 years after taking a flag from the body of a Japanese soldier on Saipan, a World War II veteran traveled to Japan to return the flag to the soldier's family.

Norman Mineta and Alan Simpson.
Photo courtesy Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post.
Behind a WWII internment camp's barbed wire, two Scouts forged a bond : Powerful Washington Post story about the friendship between former Senator Alan Simpson and former Congressman and Cabinet secretary Norman Mineta. The two first met as Boy Scouts after Mineta and his family were incarcerated at the Heart Mountain Japanese American internment camp during World War II.

- Will Nagasaki's story be told at Washington state's new national park?: Hal Bernton of The Seattle Times explores different perspectives on how the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Hanford, WA, Oak Ridge, TN and Los Alamos, NM should interpret the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The "Fat Man" bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 was fueled by plutonium produced at Hanford.
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently published on the  Voices of the Manhattan Project website

Al Zelver served as a Japanese language officer in the U.S. Army during World War II. He spent a year in Japan after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In this interview, Zelver talks about becoming a Japanese language officer, his time in the China-Burma-India Theater during the war, and seeing the ruins of Hiroshima shortly after the Japanese surrender. Zelver ruminates on the decision to drop the bombs and on the surrender itself. 

Felix DePaula was an Army private stationed at the Trinity Site and Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. After the war, DePaula stayed at Los Alamos, and worked for the Zia Company there. In this interview, DePaula talks about life at Trinity Site, especially the isolation and the entertainment he and his fellow soldiers would come up with to pass the time. He describes the rodeos the military police would help set up. DePaula also witnessed the Trinity test, and talks about the feeling among the troops after seeing the detonation. 

Dr. Julia Maestas is the granddaughter of Manuel Maestas, a homesteader at Los Alamos, and daughter of Elipio Maestas, who worked as a civil guard for the Corps of Engineers at Los Alamos. In her interview, she discusses her family's history and what it was like growing up in Los Alamos. She shares childhood memories about friends, skating, and watching movies. She also describes how her tri-cultural background and education at Los Alamos led to her career in speech pathology and educational psychology.

Larry DeCuir served in the 509th Composite Group during World War II. In this interview, he discusses his experience being stationed on Tinian Island during the war and working on the X unit of the Fat Man bomb, which was designed to trigger the bomb. He also reflects on the level of secrecy involved in the Manhattan Project. DeCuir describes the housing on Tinian, and recalls witnessing the B-29 planes take off from Tinian airfield for missions over Japan.

John and Margaret Wickersham worked at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. In this interview, John describes his time as a military policeman and guard at Los Alamos. He shares stories about patrolling for spies and meeting his wife. Margaret "Marge" (Hibner) Wickersham, a native of Española, discusses traveling to Los Alamos and working as a maid in the barracks and a cashier in the commissary. She also talks about growing up in Española and how Los Alamos has affected the area. 
With the 75th anniversary of the Manhattan Project upon us, we are delighted to receive the generous grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. However, we need your help to  raise $98,000 to meet Murdock's challenge matching requirement. 
Your  donation  will enable us to capture the recollections of Manhattan Project participants before it is too late. If you have a good candidate for an oral history, please let us know. We are prepared to travel far and wide.

Thanks very much for your interest and support!

Atomic Heritage Foundation 
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