Ruth Huddleston was born in Windrock, Tennessee. During the Manhattan Project, she got a job at Oak Ridge as a cubicle operator or “Calutron girl” at the Y-12 Plant. In this interview, she recounts her experiences at Y-12. She describes the bus ride to Oak Ridge, operating the calutrons, and the emphasis on secrecy. She recalls how she had mixed feelings after learning about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and talks about her career as a teacher and guidance counselor.
Donald Ross worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of California-Berkeley and the Y-12 Plant for Tennessee Eastman. In this interview, Ross discusses supervising “Calutron girls” at Y-12. He explains how the electromagnetic separation process for separating uranium isotopes work, and recalls the tight security at Oak Ridge. Ross also describes the social life at Oak Ridge, meeting his wife, and the terrible food in the mess halls. He discusses his views on dropping the bomb on Japan and how his thoughts have changed over time.
Gordon Steele was a chemist who began working at the Manhattan Project at the University of California, Berkeley, and was later transferred to the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge. He worked on separating uranium-235 using calutrons developed by Ernest Lawrence at UC Berkeley. In this interview Steele explores a variety of topics, from his work separating uranium isotopes to the realities of living in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He recounts a trip to Georgia in which he and his friends purchased rum and other liquors to smuggle into Oak Ridge, a decidedly dry town during the war. He also discusses his coworkers, their chess games, and some mishaps in repairing the calutron machines.
Patricia Hansard worked as a “cubicle girl” in the Y-12 Plant from 1943 until the end of the war. She was one of the many women tasked with monitoring the calutron machines essential to uranium production. She discusses the secrecy surrounding Oak Ridge, the working conditions in the cubicles and the Y-12 Plant, and her interactions with the other young women and GIs working on the site.
Denise Kiernan has worked as a journalist and producer. She is best known for “The Girls of Atomic City,” which came out in March 2013 and immediately shot to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list. “The Girls of Atomic City” tells the story of the women who worked at Oak Ridge on the Manhattan Project. She has appeared on the Daily Show and NPR to talk about her book and the women who worked on the Manhattan Project.