Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Elspeth Bobbs’s Interview

Elspeth Bobbs grew up in England. During World War II, she relocated to Santa Fe. There she became friends with Joseph Rotblat, a Polish-born physicist who was part of the British Mission at Los Alamos. Bobbs recalls her friendship with Rotblat, his personality, and how pleased she was to learn that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonproliferation work in 1995. She also describes her love of Santa Fe and gardening.

Margaret and John Wickersham’s Interview

John and Margaret Wickersham worked at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. In this interview, John describes his time as a military policeman and guard at Los Alamos. He shares stories about patrolling for spies and meeting his wife. Margaret “Marge” (Hibner) Wickersham, a native of Española, discusses traveling to Los Alamos and working as a maid in the barracks and a cashier in the commissary. She also talks about growing up in Española and how Los Alamos has affected the area. The couple concludes by discussing their life in New Mexico after the Manhattan Project, including John’s construction work in the area.

Robert Lamphere’s Interview – Part 3

FBI agent Robert Lamphere supervised investigations of Soviet atomic spies during the early years of the Cold War. He interrogated Klaus Fuchs in London in 1950. In this interview, Lamphere traces the activities of various members of the Soviet spy network in the West, including Fuchs, Harry Gold, David Greenglass, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and the defector Igor Gouzenko. He also gives his opinion on McCarthyism and discusses why the Rosenbergs’ defenders have continued to assert their innocence.

Robert Lamphere’s Interview – Part 2

FBI agent Robert Lamphere supervised investigations of Soviet atomic spies during the early years of the Cold War, including David Greenglass, Harry Gold, and the Rosenbergs. He also interrogated Klaus Fuchs in London in 1950. In this interview, Lamphere explores the Soviet espionage network in the U.S. and the roles of the various spies. He also shares his thoughts on J. Robert Oppenheimer’s security hearing, and recalls his collaboration with cryptanalyst Meredith Gardner to break the Soviet code.

Robert Lamphere’s Interview – Part 1

FBI agent Robert Lamphere supervised many investigations of Soviet spies during the Cold War. His early espionage cases focused on those who attempted to infiltrate the Manhattan Project, including David Greenglass, Harry Gold, and the Rosenbergs. In this interview, he recalls his interrogation of Klaus Fuchs in London, as well as his impressions of Fuchs and Gold. Lamphere also discusses the network of spies living in the US, their motivations, and the nature of the commands that they received from Moscow.

Robert Serber’s Interview (1994)

Robert Serber was an American physicist. In 1941, Serber was recruited by J. Robert Oppenheimer to work on the Manhattan Project. Serber was tasked with explaining the basic principles and goals of the project to all incoming scientific staff. Moving to Los Alamos in 1943, he gave lecturers to members of the Manhattan Project about the design and construction of atomic bombs. His lectures were known as the “Los Alamos Primer.” In this interview with Richard Rhodes, he discusses the decision to develop a hydrogen bomb. Serber also recalls Oppenheimer’s security hearing, the Chevalier conversation, and how the hearing changed Oppenheimer. Serber also explains why his loyalty was questioned by the government, and why the government was suspicious of his wife.

General Leslie Groves’s Interview – Part 6

In this interview, General Groves discusses his relationship with some of the famous scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Harold Urey, Vannevar Bush, James B. Conant, and Ernest O. Lawrence. Groves also discusses the Chevalier incident and how Oppenheimer’s affiliation with the Communist party raised suspicions among fellow scientists of his motivations. He explains why he respected Oppenheimer and selected him to direct Project Y.