Perspectives from Oak Ridge

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Photos of the Month - January 2018

Audrey Lengel, Photo Archivist

It’s finally my favorite time of the year when I have some free time to curl up on a cold winter day with a good book… or 5! Like many of us, I have an ever-expanding to-read pile of books and I am still catching up with bestsellers that were popular a few years ago.

I recently read Denise Kiernan’s The Girls of Atomic City and wanted to share some images from our collections that illustrate the female perspective of life in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where workers spent years unknowingly enriching uranium, and of the physicist women whose discoveries led the way to the development of the atomic bomb. This month, you will see some familiar female physicists whose theories and discoveries about fission were at first discounted and then whose remarkable findings were not appropriately credited. We’ll also share some images of WWII nuclear facilities from the perspectives of the women and men who worked there.

Please also feel free to explore our Women and the Manhattan Project Lesson Plan (geared towards students in grades 9-12 and college students, but appropriate for adults!) for more background on nuclear fission, discussion points to ponder, and more resources to dive further into this topic.

Portrait of Ida Noddack, circa 1930.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Gift of Jost Lemmerich

Lise Meitner speaking with Otto Hahn. Paneth stands in the background.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Bainbridge Collection

Women in a plant operating calutron control panels in Oak Ridge, circa 1945.

Credit line: Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Digital Photo Archive, Department of Energy (DOE), courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Workers in Oak Ridge standing outside, circa 1944.

Credit line: Digital Photo Archive, Department of Energy (DOE), courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Housing at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, circa 1945.

Credit line: Digital Photo Archive, Department of Energy (DOE), courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Workers at the Hanford Construction Camp, Washington state, circa 1944.

Credit line: Digital Photo Archive, Department of Energy (DOE), courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives