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Goldberg, Mildred (b. 1923) Personal recollections of Mildred Goldberg, secretary to the theoretical group, SAM Laboratories, The Manhattan Project; 1943-1946

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03152.01 Author/Creator: Goldberg, Mildred (b. 1923) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Typed manuscript Date: circa October 1945 Pagination: 6 p. ; 28.1 x 21.8 cm.

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Summary of Content: Goldberg, a secretary working in the Substitute or Special Alloy Metals (S.A.M.) Laboratory at Columbia University, recalls the people and events that were part of her work experience. Mentions various scientists and other colleagues at the laboratory, including Drs. Richard Present, Francis Bonner, Andre J. De Bethune, Howard Levi and William Nierenberg. Worked under Drs. John Ray Dunning and Irving Kaplan at what Goldberg calls "the Nash building" (a previous automobile showroom on 137th St. and Broadway in New York City). Notes that the entire enterprise was supervised by Dr. Harold Urey, Director of War Research, Atomic Bomb Project, Columbia University. Recalls her duties as a typist for the scientists, noting that by 1946, she was able to "handle the most complex formulae and scientific data." Describes her supervisors' personalities and her experience with great warmth and gratitude: "There was never any formal training or orientation. I was expected to learn my duties as I went along and those gentlemen respected my ability to do so. I fully appreciated their confidence and was motivated to do my best with zeal, loyalty, and an affection which has remained with me all these years." Recalls conferences that were attended by her supervisors and other scientists, such as physicists Robert Oppenheimer and Lise Meitner, as well as General Leslie Groves. Of development of the atomic bomb, writes "In all honesty, and although I am aware of the ramifications of nuclear weapons, I must admit that my feelings about those three years are all positive; I feel that I was privileged to sit in on the threshold of an historical time, that I was honored to have met and worked for these remarkable, unique, exciting people. I believe that the notes I saved bear out the humanity and true feelings of these scientists and that these notes vindicate these men's efforts, proving that they did indeed work to save and not to destroy our civilization."

Background Information: Goldberg, in a telephone interview 23 August 2007, related that this manuscript was created circa October 1945.

People: Goldberg, Mildred, b. 1923
Urey, Harold Clayton, 1893-
Kaplan, Irving, 1912-1997
Dunning, John Ray, 1907-
Bonner, Francis T., fl. 1942-1946
Levi, Howard, 1916-
De Bethune, Andre J
Nierenberg, William Aaron, 1919-2000
Jacobson, Homer
Kaplan, Ruth Stern
Present, Richard David, 1913-
Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967
Meitner, Lise, 1878-1968
Groves, Leslie R., 1896-1970

Historical Era: Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945

Subjects: World War IIManhattan ProjectNuclear EnergyScience and TechnologyWeaponryWoman AuthorWomen's HistoryMilitary HistoryAtomic Energy

Sub Era: World War II

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