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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Roger Fulling’s Interview (1985)

Roger Fulling was the Division Superintendent of Construction at DuPont during the Manhattan Project, which meant that he coordinated and expedited the construction projects at Hanford and Oak Ridge. He was also the main liaison with General Leslie R. Groves on the Hanford construction project. In this interview, Fulling discusses DuPont’s procurement issues and the support of American industry for the Manhattan Project. He also recalls visiting Hanford and the early days of working with General Groves. He explains the fate of Hanford’s orchards and farms after the Manhattan Project requisitioned the land, and his sadness at witnessing the orchards fall into ruin.

Hanford 25th Anniversary Celebration

This program was recorded at the 25th anniversary of the construction of the B Reactor, the world’s first full-scale nuclear reactor, in Hanford, WA. Leading Manhattan Project scientists, including Glenn Seaborg, John Wheeler, Lombard Squires, and Norman Hilberry, as well as its military leaders, General Leslie R. Groves and Colonel Franklin Matthias, participated in the ceremony. They discussed the start of the Manhattan Project, how the reactor’s site was chosen, the challenges of building the reactor and the chemical separations plant, and the different processes that were considered to separate plutonium. They also recalled the relationship between the military and civilian scientists and why they became involved in the Manhattan Project to help win World War II. They philosophized on the significance of nuclear power and its potential for future projects, from agriculture to space exploration.

Paula and Ludwig Bruggemann’s Interview

Paula and Ludwig Bruggemann were born outside of Yakima, Washington in the agricultural community of White Bluffs. Their father owned a prosperous fruit farm in White Bluffs along the Columbia River before the U.S. government forced the family in 1943 to relocate from the area to make way for construction of the Hanford Site. In this interview, the Bruggemanns discuss their brief years in White Bluffs, family history, the ranch, and the years that followed their displacement from White Bluffs. They recall what life on the ranch was like, and the sort of amenities their home had.

Leon Overstreet’s Interview

Oklahoma-born Leon Overstreet went into construction in 1941 after he learned a little pipefitting with American Can in Kansas City. He retired in 1979 after helping build the Fast Flux Test Facility and Washington Public Power Supply System No. 2, both at Hanford. During the interview at his Richland residence, he was especially amused by his recollection of an outhouse scrawl he read at Hanford in 1944. “Come on you Okies/Let’s take Japan/We took California/And never lost a man.” In this interview, Leon Overstreet talks about how he got involved at the Manhattan Project at Hanford. He discusses working conditions, the process of building the barracks and reactors and some project accidents. He also goes into his career in pipefitting after the war.

Jerry Saucier’s Interview

Jerry Saucier came to Hanford from Lowell, Massachusetts in 1943. Originally an inspector in charge of maintaining the barracks, he later became an operator at various Hanford reactors, including B Reactor. After the war, he settled in Richland. In this interview, Saucier describes his duties during the Manhattan Project, which involved working long hours. He explains some of the hardships of working at Hanford, describes what workers would do on weekends, and recounts a police riot squad breaking up a fight at the beer hall. Saucier also opines on the decision to use the atomic bombs against Japan.

Jane Jones Hutchins’s Interview

Jane Jones Hutchins moved from small-town Kansas to Hanford to work as a secretary. She recalls social life at Hanford, a Christmas tree made of sagebrush, and an empty Hanford after the war.