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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Esther Floth’s Interview

Esther Floth worked as a secretary for General Leslie Groves during the Manhattan Project in Washington, DC. Her job afforded her the opportunity to meet leading Manhattan Project officials and scientists, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Niels Bohr, Ernest Lawrence, and others. She went on to work for the Atomic Energy Commission after the war. In this interview, Esther recalls the secrecy of the project, including getting her top-secret clearance, and what everyday life during the war was like. She recounts General Groves’s leadership qualities and how he interacted with her and other Manhattan Project staff. Floth also describes her response to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Oppenheimer’s security trial.

General Richard H. Groves’s Interview

General Richard Groves was a cadet at West Point during World War II, getting ready to ship out for the invasion of Japan. His father, General Leslie R. Groves, directed the Manhattan Project. In this interview, Gen. Richard Groves discusses his father’s competitive drive, the pride he felt in Manhattan Project workers, and how he felt about what the project accomplished. He also recalls receiving letters from his father at West Point and what he learned working with him on his biography.

Gwen Groves Robinson’s Interview

Gwen Groves Robinson is the daughter of General Leslie Groves, who served as the head of the Manhattan Project. A teenager during the project, she recalls visiting Gen. Groves in his office in Washington, DC, playing tennis with him, and his interactions with his trusted secretary, Jean O’Leary. Gwen explains why her family nicknamed her father “DNO,” and talks about the many games she would play with her father – including games where he was the “baby.” She discusses how her father was raised and the high standards to which he held both himself and his family. She learned about her father’s important role in the development of the atomic bomb from the radio after the bombing of Hiroshima.

Robert Furman’s Interview

Robert Furman served as General Leslie Groves’ assistant on the building of the Pentagon and the Manhattan Project. As Chief of Foreign Intelligence in the Manhattan Project, he coordinated and was a part of the Alsos Mission, conducting epsionage missions across Europe to interrogate Italian and German scientists, locate uranium, and determine how far the Nazis had proceeded with their atomic bomb project. Furman also accompanied half of Little Boy’s uranium ore across the Pacific to Tinian aboard the doomed USS Indianapolis. After the war, Furman was sent on a special mission to Japan to investigate whether any efforts had been made by the Japanese to develop a nuclear weapon. Furman recalls General Leslie Groves’ determination and the scientists’ frustration over his emphasis on secrecy.