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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

David P. Rudolph’s Interview

David R. Rudolph was an administrator in charge of inventory at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory. In his interview, he discusses how he was one of the few individuals to be present at both the startup of Chicago Pile-1 and the Trinity test. Rudolph recalls the process of reactor construction, along with the disassembly of CP-1 for the construction of CP-2. He explains the importance of inventory control when it came to the uranium and graphite blocks used in CP-1, and how he helped discover that a section had not be stacked with enough blocks.

Robert Nobles and William Sturm’s Interview – Part 1

William Sturm and Robert Nobles were physicists working under Enrico Fermi’s supervision at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory. Both physicists worked with graphite and uranium ratios and arrangements in the Chicago Pile-1. In this interview, they recall the construction of Chicago Pile-1 and witnessing the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Sturm and Nobles discuss Fermi’s personality, noting his confidence and competence. They describe him as being one of the most brilliant physicists of his time, having knowledge of all fields of physics. The two also discuss the interactions between the different scientists on the project at Chicago and how their different personalities and specialties meshed together.

Norman Hilberry’s Interview (1965) – Part 2

Dr. Norman Hilberry was a physicist and the right-hand man to Arthur H. Compton at the Metallurgical Project (Met Lab) in Chicago. In the interview, Hilberry discusses the role he played as the Associate Project Director in Chicago. He elaborates on the process of obtaining large amounts of graphite, which was desperately needed, and extracting uranium metal. Hilberry also stresses the various and important roles played by corporations in the project.

Russell Stanton’s Interview

Russell Stanton, a civil engineer, arrived at Hanford in October 1943 after working at various DuPont plants across the country. At Hanford, Stanton was tasked with constructing the 105 buildings that housed the nuclear reactors, including the B Reactor. Later, Stanton worked on making side shields for the piles and even helped construct a fish hatchery for the study of the effects of radiation on wildlife. Stanton discusses the incredible logistics required to coordinate work at the site and describes the hard-working attitude of many workers. Stanton also explains how project managers were able to meet rigorous wartime demands in such a short time.