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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) maintains and makes accessible to the general public a wide variety of historical resources. These include published and online histories of DOE and its predecessor agencies and records, exhibits, museums, and tours available online and at various locations both within and outside the Department. 

DOE History:

DOE is the lineal descendent of several predecessor agencies, including the Manhattan Project and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The three-volume A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission documents the history of the Manhattan Project effort to develop the atomic bomb during World War II and the early years (1947 to 1961) of AEC.

  • Volume I, The New World, 1939-1946, the first major published history of the Manhattan Project based on classified sources, details the origins, policies, and processes of the project.
  • Volume II, Atomic Shield, 1947-1952, details startup, development, and policies of AEC, as well as major issues like the expansion of the nuclear weapons complex, development of thermonuclear weapons, and beginnings of programs for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  • Volume III, Atoms for Peace and War, 1953-1961, covers atomic energy activities during the Eisenhower administration, including the expansion of the nuclear arsenal, nuclear weapons testing, and negotiations to end testing.

Other historical publications about DOE predecessor agencies and specific aspects of the Department's history include:

For more information on DOE history, see the Publications page.

Manhattan Project History: In July 2013, the Department launched The Manhattan Project: Resources, a web-based, joint collaboration between the DOE History program and the Office of Classification. The site is designed to disseminate information and documentation on the Manhattan Project to a broad audience, including scholars, students, and the general public.

The Manhattan Project: Resources consists of two parts: 1) The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History, a web-based history designed to provide an informative, easy-to-read, comprehensive overview of the Manhattan Project, and 2) the Manhattan District History, a multi-volume, classified history — commissioned by General Leslie Groves at the end of the war — that assembled a vast amount of information in a systematic, readily available format, including extensive annotations, statistical tables, charts, engineering drawings, maps, and photographs. All 36 volumes of the Manhattan District History, declassified and declassified with redactions, are being made available full-text online.

Other online resources include an assortment of websites and histories made available by DOE laboratories and field sites. In conjunction with the opening of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park on November 10, 2015, DOE launched the K-25 Virtual Museum website.

Historical Photographs: DOE maintains an extensive collection of photographs that document the history of the Department and its predecessor agencies. Many of these images are available on the DOE Flickr page.

Information for Researchers: Records documenting DOE history are as diverse as the Department itself. Researching these records, therefore, requires careful planning. Records are not maintained in a single location but are found at numerous DOE and non-DOE sites across the country. Most recent records — and significant numbers of older collections — remain in the custody of DOE's program offices and field sites and are not readily accessible. The vast majority of older records, which were routine and of only temporary value, have been destroyed under National Archives and Records Administration-approved disposition schedules, as part of the normal records management process. Many permanent records from DOE and its predecessor agencies, such as the Manhattan Engineer District and AEC, are at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Information on Exhibits, Museums, and Historic Facilities: DOE supports exhibits, museums, and historic facilities across the country dedicated to displaying and interpreting the history of the Department and its scientific and technological missions and accomplishments. Public tours are also available at some DOE sites. Tours will be expanded as the new Manhattan Project park is implemented. Owning some of the twentieth century's most historically significant physical properties, DOE oversees a rigorous history program dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and making accessible to the public this material heritage.