Radioactive Manhattan Project Records and Archival Serendipity

Early this year, staff from the University’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), in preparing for the move to the new chemistry building, found a filing cabinet in the Frick Laboratory (currently home of the Chemistry Department) containing material related to Princeton’s involvement with the Manhattan Project. (While the common perception of the Manhattan Project is that it was physicists doing the work, a great part of the effort involved chemists too.) Many of the documents were labeled as classified, though some were stamped with Declassified stamps from the 1950s. EHS Director Garth Walters sought advice from the General Counsel’s office and Val Fitch (emeritus professor who worked in Los Alamos during the war). Fitch did not believe any of the documents were still classified, but until that was definitively determined, the General Counsel’s office suggested that a more secure place be found for the cabinet, and hence a call to the Mudd Library in March.

Continue reading