NPS to Establish Manhattan Project Park

What was once the biggest secret in America is being commemorated in public—building the bomb. The National Park Service and the Department of Energy announced last week the establishment of three national historic parks at Manhattan Project sites. The three sites, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington, will commemorate the places where work on the atomic bomb was completed during World War II. In a White House ceremony last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz expressed a desire to tell a complete story of the atomic bomb and its consequences.

The Gilder Lehrman Collection holds a number of documents created by the Manhattan Project scientists and saved by Mildred Goldberg, a project secretary. Documents of particular importance outline the Association’s opposition to the May-Johnson Bill, which would have turned over their nuclear research to the military. The scientists feared it would initiate a dangerous nuclear arms race, and felt a "very special responsibility to the people of America . . . because of our special awareness of the possibilities of atomic energy for the advance of our civilization or its utter destruction."

Take a look at a selection of Manhattan Project documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection in the slideshow below. You can switch to a "full screen" view by clicking the arrows in the bottom right corner of the slideshow.