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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Frances Hawkins (née Pockman) was an early education expert and a teacher at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project.

She and her husband, Manhattan Project historian David Hawkins, moved to Los Alamos in 1943 with their daughter Julie. Before the war, Frances had been a nursery school and kindergarten teacher in San Francisco, and she founded the nursery school at Los Alamos. The Hawkinses lived in the same four-family house as Ellen and Victor Weisskopf, with whom they became close friends.

According to her daughter Julie Melton, Frances was unhappy at Los Alamos: “She made some good friends while she was there, but she didn’t like working on the war. She didn’t like weapons. She wanted to get out of there.”

After the war, the Hawkins family moved to Colorado. Both Frances and David were questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1950 over their past membership in the Communist Party. The couple co-founded the Mountain View Center for Environmental Education in 1970. Frances wrote two books, The Logic of Action and Journey With Children, about her experiences as a teacher and educational philosophy.

You can listen to interviews with David Hawkins and Julie Melton on the “Voices of the Manhattan Project” website.

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