Irma E. Shuler was a personnel office manager at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. She was also the second wife of physical chemist and Los Alamos scientist George Kistiakowsky.
As a personnel office manager, Shuler was responsible for recruiting and interviewing new employees. In her interview on the Voices of the Manhattan Project website, Lydia Martinez recalled being recruited by Shuler to work at Los Alamos. After she talked with Shuler in her office, Martinez “went to get her badge and she was badged by a WAC,” who upon seeing Martinez said, ‘What does Irma Shuler think she is doing?’
Martinez explained that she later learned that “the WAC was complaining about her age. Going to work before she was of age to be there.” As a local girl from El Rancho, NM, Martinez first began to work at Los Alamos when she was seventeen years old.
In September of 1945, Shuler married George Kistiakowsky. Vera Kistiakowsky, the daughter of George and his first wife Anna Marie Margarata Hildegard Mabius, recalled her interactions and memories of Irma in an interview with the Atomic Heritage Foundation.
Discussing horse riding and camping during her summers at Los Alamos, Vera remembered Irma to be a “very good rider, and what you would call a very good sport – willing to suffer rough circumstances,” such as camping and sleeping outside.
Besides sharing personal stories, Vera touched on Irma’s professional reputation at Los Alamos. Vera said that family friend and Los Alamos worker Lilli Hornig’s “verdict on Irma was that it took three people to do the job that Irma did when Irma resigned.”
In 1962, Shuler and George divorced. At the age of ninety-three, Irma E. Shuler died on July 14, 2001 in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
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