Interviewees in this series contributed in various roles to the refinement of plutonium 239 isotope at the Hanford Engineer Works in the state of Washington. In
January of 1943, General Groves chose the site for construction of three full-scale plutonium piles for the mass production of plutonium 239--an isotope for the chain reaction
in an atomic bomb--as well as water-treatment plants for cooling the reactors. The E.I. Du Pont de Nemours Company also built four remote-controlled "canyons" for the chemical
separation of plutonium from uranium 238. Sessions were shot at the Columbia Cable Television studio and on-site at the Hanford Reservation.
Participants for Session One assisted in operations at the "B" site nuclear reactor as operators or support personnel. Lawrence Denton began work at the Hanford construction
camp in September 1942 as a receiving and shipping clerk. Wilson A. Cease came to Hanford as a Du Pont employee in March 1944, and worked as a security patrolman in the area
where uranium slugs were canned and sealed. Jess R. Brinkerhoff and Ralph K. Wahlen were both employed by the Remington Arms plant in Salt Lake City, Utah, and transferred
to Hanford. Brinkerhoff arrived in November 1943, and worked in the fire department before becoming a power operator in a water treatment plant. Wahlen was employed in the
fuel piece canning area. R.M. Buslach arrived in Hanford after the war and worked in plant maintenance for the General Electric Company.
Session Two participants worked for the Du Pont Company as chemical engineers at Hanford. Wakefield A. Wright and Vivian Russell Chapman were first transferred from Alabama
Ordnance Works by Du Pont to the Manhattan Project facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for training before arriving in Hanford in 1944. William P. McCue was employed at the
Oklahoma Ordnance Works before training at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois, and relocating to Hanford. The responsibilities of these three men at Hanford
included training the crews and supervising the operators in the nuclear reactors and chemical separation plants.
Session Three brought together a group of Hanford administrators. Oswald H. Greager had been a chemist for Du Pont after receiving his Ph.D. in that field from the University
of Michigan in 1929. He came to Hanford in October 1944, from the Separations Development Division at the Clinton Engineer Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Greager, on military
duty at Hanford, served as Technical Officer and supervised the work of the contractor in the chemical separation area. Richard F. Foster joined the project in September 1943,
on a contract with the Office of Scientific Research and Development at the University of Washington College of Fisheries. He studied the effects of radiation on the Columbia
River and eventually became concerned with evaluating radiological doses received by people from all environs at Hanford. Leonard F. Perkins, Sr., came to Hanford in the spring
of 1944 as an employee of the United States General Accounting Office to audit the contract of the Du Pont Company. In 1946, he transferred to the Atomic Energy Commission
and returned to Hanford in 1951 to direct government-contracted construction there until 1973. During World War II Frederic W. Albaugh worked in the Metallurgical Laboratory
at the University of Chicago as a group leader in the plutonium chemistry section. He arrived in Hanford to head its plutonium chemistry section in 1947 and continued to work
there in various administrative capacities until 1971. Colonel Franklin T. Matthias, who had worked under General Groves in construction contracting for the Pentagon, was
largely responsible for the site selection of Hanford. Groves appointed Matthias in February of 1943 to be commanding officer of the Hanford facilities.
The discussions detailed the nature of the workload at Hanford, the living conditions, and the administration of the Project. The sessions were shot on three-quarter-inch
U-matic tape and provided visual documentation of the "B" site nuclear reactor, tools used for the charge/discharge process, and period photographs of the interiors of the
chemical separation "canyons."
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9531, The Manhattan Project Videohistory Collection