Department of Energy

Department of Energy Features Women in the Manhattan Project During Women’s History Month

March 13, 2018

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is featuring the essential contributions women have made to the success of the agency’s mission, dating back to the 1940s and the Manhattan Project – the top-secret mission to develop the world’s first nuclear weapon that helped win World War II.

“This is an occasion to remember the impact women have had at the DOE, the sciences as a whole, and across our great nation,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Unfortunately their achievements have often been overshadowed or overlooked, but their contributions have been essential. For instance, the girls of Atomic City worked in secrecy and obscurity on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge National Lab. Their names and contributions might still be unknown today had it not been for the bestseller novel by the same name.”

This Women’s History Month, the DOE recognizes the women who shaped the work of the Manhattan Project, from explosives chemistry to nuclear fission theories to testing reactors to designing and building the atomic bomb. This work now dates 75 years ago, when General Leslie Groves selected Hanford, Washington as the site for plutonium production and 75 years ago this month staff began arriving at the site in Los Alamos, New Mexico. 75 years ago this November, the X-10 graphite reactor in Oak Ridge went critical.

Over the month, the DOE is releasing a photo album, a timeline of women in the Manhattan Project, blogs and illustrations to highlight the accomplishments of five women who helped on the project, a coloring book featuring women in the Manhattan Project. Additionally, several events are occurring across the DOE complex to celebrate women in the Manhattan Project.


Last week, the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge individual Girl Scouts and/or troops celebrated 75 years of Girl Scouts in Oak Ridge. Admission to the museum was free to any Girl Scout in uniform and their immediate family. Girl Scouts of all levels had the opportunity to earn multiple patches. POC:

On Thursday, March 22, 5:30pm ET, HerStory: A Special Women’s History Reception and Celebration, will be hosted at the New Hope Visitor Center in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The event will include the opening of a photography exhibition of women in the Secret City and a presentation to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park of a biscuit pan, used secretly by Mrs. Kattie Strickland, an African-American from Alabama who moved with her husband so he could work at Oak Ridge. The pan was made from metal scraps, and Mrs. Strickland made biscuits for the guards to request more time with her husband, as the site was segregated and African-American men and women were not allowed to live together. POC: (865) 482-1942.


On Thursday, March 15, historian Laurena Davis will present on Women of the Manhattan Project, 12-1pm at the Whitman Building of the Museums of Western Colorado. POC:


On Monday, March 26, Hanford and Leona Libby Middle School are hosting a STEAM Night featuring women in science from the Manhattan Project era forward. A keynote speaker will be followed by an open house with student presentations from 7th and 8th graders and booths from community partners including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the REACH Museum, and LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). POC:


Now through June, the Los Alamos Historical Society is sharing the story of some of the remarkable women who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. The exhibit “Women, Science, and Project Y” is on display at the Los Alamos County Municipal building and open to the public.

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