Department of Energy

Five Fast Facts About Blanche J. Lawrence

March 15, 2018

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Illustration of Blanche Lawrence, a technician at the Met Lab during the Manhattan Project
Cort Kreer, Energy Department.

It’s Women’s History Month on Energy.gov. During the month of March, we’re highlighting the great contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields made by women who worked on the Manhattan Project, the top-secret program during World War II that ushered in the nuclear age. See the rest of our coverage at energy.gov/manhattanproject. 

Blanche J. Lawrence worked in the Health Division of the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory or "Met Lab" during the Manhattan Project. She was one of the few African-American women scientists of her day.  

Here are some more interesting facts about Blanche Lawrence: 

  1. She began working as a technician and, just five years later, became a junior biochemist at the lab. At a time when many African-Americans were only given the opportunity to work as janitors and laborers, this was a big accomplishment.  

  2. She graduated from Tuskegee University, where she belonged to the Physical Education Club and the Creative Dance Group 

  3. After World War II, she continued working at the Met Lab's successor, Argonne National Lab 

  4. In September 1949, she was featured in aEbony Magazine issue focusing on "Atom Scientists."  

  5. She was the widow of a Tuskegee Airman, Captain Erwin Lawrence. Her husband died on a mission over an enemy airfield near Athens, Greece.