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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Anthony French’s Interview (2008)

In this interview, Anthony French discusses how impressive the Manhattan Project was and what made it decidedly different from the British wartime atomic efforts. French talks about his relationships with other members of the British mission, namely Klaus Fuchs and Egon Bretscher. Finally, he shares his opinions on dropping the atomic bombs on Japan and nuclear proliferation during the Cold War.

Bert Tolbert’s Interview

Bert Tolbert joined the Manhattan Project in 1944 while completing his PhD in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. In April, Tolbert began working for the Radiation Laboratory under E.O. Lawrence and was tasked with separating and enriching small samples of uranium-235 that were used by physicists for various experiments. Tolbert and his team of chemists eventually developed a machine for separating uranium that was so efficient it was shipped down to Oak Ridge to be tested at the Y-12 Plant. Tolbert recalls staying in E.O. Lawrence’s apartment at Oak Ridge and discusses how his degree in chemistry helped guide his career after the war.

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.