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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Edward Doty’s Interview

Ed Doty worked as a technician with the Army’s Special Engineer Detachment (SED) in Los Alamos for the Manhattan Project. He recounts what life was like working on the secret site.

Winston Dabney’s Interview (1992)

Winston Dabney applied to be assigned to the Manhattan Project during his service in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He secured transfer from Camp Claiborne, Louisiana to Los Alamos in early 1944 and shortly after he arrived, Dabney was promoted to Master Sergeant. He was primarily responsible for sending military records to Oak Ridge, organizing payroll, and ordering military supplies.

Anthony French’s Interview (1992)

Anthony French is a British Physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. After graduating from Cambridge University, French began working on the British effort to build an atomic bomb, codenamed “Tube Alloys”, at the Cavendish Laboratory. By 1944, Tube Alloys merged with the Manhattan Project and French was sent to Los Alamos. French recounts his time in Los Alamos, working alongside physicists such as Egon Bretscher.

Lawrence Antos’ Interview

Lawrence Antos was a member of the Military Police at Los Alamos. He checked the passes of civilians entering and exiting Los Alamos. He talks about the sports team Los Alamos residents played on for fun, and recalls the reaction of the soldiers to the Trinity Test and the atomic bombings of Japan.

Berlyn Brixner’s Interview

Berlyn Brixner worked as a photographer and camera engineer at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. He filmed the Trinity test on motion capture cameras, and recalls the anxious setup of cameras around the site and remembers being “amazed” and “dumbfounded” by the enormous explosion. His work using cameras to photograph the implosion method showed the physicists that they were off track in their calculations, and he captured photographs and films other explosions and the dropping of dummy bombs to help the scientists better understand the science and physics behind them.

Harold Agnew’s Interview (1992)

Harold Agnew worked on the Manhattan Project at various locations and served as the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1970-1979. Agnew was flying above Hiroshima as a scientific observer when the bomb was dropped, and remembers “having the blast hit the airplane after the flash, the very bright flash.” He worked on the Chicago Pile-1 with Enrico Fermi, whom he calls “absolutely amazing.” He recalls how Oppenheimer’s penchant for treating everyone equally and General Leslie Groves’ incredible managing skills influenced camaraderie and the speed of the project. He defends dropping the bombs on Japan as saving many American, Japanese, and Chinese lives.

Anna Mae Gillespie’s Interview

Anna Mae Gillespie worked as a matron in the married couples’ dorm at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, and her husband worked as an electrician. She recalls life in the secret city during the war.

Bob Porton’s Interview

Bob Porton worked in the recreation division at Los Alamos. A soldier in first the Provisional Engineer Detachment and then the Special Engineer Detachment, he discusses military-civilian relations on the top-secret base, his arrival in Santa Fe, and the importance of keeping up morale at Los Alamos.

Arno Roensch’s Interview

Arno Roensch, a glass blower in the Army, worked at Los Alamos. He met his wife after catching her eye while playing in the band at a dance. He talks about military-civilian relations and the time he helped Enrico Fermi change a tire.

Eleanor Roensch’s Interview

Eleanor Roensch worked as a telephone operator in Los Alamos. She remembers a fire breaking out in one of the technical buildings and the concern over coded telegrams, sent by scientists like Rudolf Peierls.