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E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Hanford Engineer Works photographs and films

389

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Hagley Museum and Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Repository:
Hagley Museum and Library: Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department
Creator:
Hanford Engineer Works.
Title:
E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Hanford Engineer Works photographs and films
Date:
1943-1948
Call Number:
389
Extent:
3 linear feet
General Physical Description:
1 album : black ; 11.5 x 9.25 in. containing 78 photographic prints : b&w ; 3 x 5 in. or smaller. 1 album : brown ; 11.5 x 9.25 in. containing 39 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 1 photographic print : b&w ; 6.75 x 10.5 in. 9 reels : si., col. ; 16mm. 1 reel : si., b&w ; 16mm. 2 videocassettes (Beta-SP). 2 videocassettes (HDCAM). 3 videocassettes (VHS).
Language:
English
Abstract:
The Hanford Engineer Works in Hanford, Washington, was constructed between 1943 and 1945 to create the plutonium 239 and uranium 235 used in the atomic weapons needed for World War II. Sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company acted as the prime contractor. This collection contains two captioned albums, one of the Medical Division between 1943 and 1945, and the other of Hanford Yuletide Carnival in 1943. The films are various format copies of "War construction in the desert", created to document the building and running of the Hanford Engineer Works. Also included is a film of African American workers dancing in one of the mess halls and a farewell party of DuPont executives in 1948.
PDF Version:

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Biography/History

The Hanford Engineer Works in Hanford, Washington, was constructed between 1943 and 1945 to create the plutonium 239 and uranium 235 used in the atomic weapons needed for World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945) authorized the Army to become involved in the atomic bomb project in 1941. In 1942, the Manhattan Engineer District (MED) was established within the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to oversee the project which would later be known as the Manhattan Project. General Leslie Richard Groves, Jr. (1896-1970) was placed in command and selected E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company as the prime contractor. Originally the plant was to be built at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where DuPont already had a plant. However, due to its proximity to Knoxville and the need for more land to construct the plant and an entire town, it was decided the plutonium plant should be created in a more isolated and larger area. After representatives from the USACE and DuPont searched Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, Hanford Washington was agreed upon as the construction site.

In 1943, Colonel Franklin T. Matthias (1908-1993) was made site manager of Hanford. The Hanford Engineer Works was constructed from March 1943 to February 1945. In less than two years, the site included over 51,000 workers and 1,200 buildings had been created. Roads, railroads, water, electricity and sewer systems also had to be built to run the plant and for all the employees to utilize. The Hanford camp was built to house the workers who worked on the initial site and the Richland Village was constructed for the workers and their families who would operate the plant once it was built. Due to the physical isolation of the plant and the confidential nature of the government's mission there, the plant was responsible for the medical and social affairs of the workers. The work force was mostly laborers brought in from outside the eastern Washington area. Recruiters focused on male workers that were not likely to be drafted, either over age thirty eight or having a family. Wives and children were allowed to live at the site, and amenities such as churches, stores, recreational facilities, gymnasium, bowling alley, library and softball diamond were constructed. Most living quarters were segregated by sex and race as were mess halls and taverns.

In 1945, the plutonium created at the Hanford Engineer Works was used in the Trinity Test in New Mexico as well as the atomic bomb dropped in Nagasaki, Japan. The Hanford site continued to produce plutonium throughout the Cold War era and eventually stopped production in 1988. Environmental cleanup began to reduce contamination after forty years of plutonium production and was estimated to take over thirty years.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of two captioned albums: one from the Hanford yuletide carnival, a two week event which was held to encourage workers not to leave the site for Christmas visits back home and one documenting the Medical Division showing the on-site hospital and clinics for workers and their dependents.

The "Hanford yuletide carnival 1943" album includes images from musical, theatrical, and sporting events held during the Christmas season and views of the Hanford site decorated for the holidays. Some of these photographs show the racially mixed workforce employed at Hanford Engineering Works. The album also includes two copies of the program from the fourteen day event.

The "Photographic history medical division 1943-1945" album is organized by: Buildings (exteriors) includes floor plans; Hospital Facilities (interiors) includes operating rooms and different wards; Industrial Medical Section Hospital Unit No. 1 includes the first aid section and mobile unit; Health Center Hospital Unit No. 2 images relate to public health issues include prenatal class, venereal disease testing, and bacteriology lab; Business Unit includes clerical offices, kitchen, laundry.

A group portrait is included of the first aid nursing staff at Hanford Engineering Works. It is a larger version of a photograph that appears in the "Photographic history medical division" album. The photograph includes a group of nurses in uniform and a few men, with the first aid facilities behind them.

The film in this collection includes three reels of 16mm silent, captioned film entitled "War construction in the desert", created to document the building and running of the Hanford Engineer Works. Reel 1 includes new employees, safety, statistics about power-steam, roads, and railroads. Reel 2 includes a "typical girl's and a typical man's day," recreational activities, the commissary, the hospital facilities. Reel 3 includes excavation statistics, process building construction, and personnel. Another version of "War construction in the desert", where smaller segments have been edited together to create the film is missing two segments. These two segments are included in two smaller reels, "Camp construction/construction shop" and "Patrol/fire/transportation. The collection contains three video format copies of this film in VHS, Betacam SP and HDCAM. The HDCAM format cannot be viewed at this time.

The collection also contains a black and white film of African American workers dancing in one of the mess halls in 1945. The original housing for this film was labeled "The Black Bottom" which was a popular African American dance in the 1920s. Also included is a film of a farewell party of DuPont executives in 1948. Lastly, included is a very short clip of water churning over a rock and a trim of this shot. It is unclear as to the origin of this film.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Lisa Kruczek, 2017.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Film material is housed in cold storage and must reacclimate prior to viewing (Film Cans 1-10). Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department at least 48 hours in advance of research visit.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)
  • Manhattan Project (U.S.).
Subject(s)
  • Defense industries--Social aspects.
  • Hanford Engineer Works--History.
  • Hospitals--Washington--Hanford.
  • Industrial hygiene.
  • Nuclear facilities.
  • Nuclear weapons industry--Employees--Health and hygiene.
  • Nuclear weapons industry--Employees--Medical care.
  • Nurses.
  • Occupational physicians.

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Collection Inventory

I..  Photographs, 1943-1945.

Box Folder
First aid nursing staff, 1943-1945.
General Physical Description note
1 photographic print : b&w ; 6.75 x 13.5 in.
Scope and Content

Group portrait of medical staff includes nurses in uniform and five men. Photograph included in album "Photographic history-medical division-Hanford Engineer Works"

1 1
Hanford yuletide carnival, 1943 December 18-1944 January 1.
General Physical Description note
1 album : brown ; 11.5 x 9.25 in. (closed). Containing 39 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in.
Scope and Content

Includes letter to J.W. Hammett in the Purchasing Department and two programs from fourteen day event.

1

Photographic history medical division, 1943-1945.

General Physical Description note
1 album : black ; 11.5 x 9.25 in. (closed). Containing 78 photographic prints : b&w ; 3 x 5 in. or smaller.
1

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II..  Film, 1945-1948.

Film
Camp construction, construction shops, circa 1945.
General Physical Description note
1 reel (400 ft.) : si., col. ; 16mm. TRT 00:12:13. This film has been digitized [ID: FILM_1974389_FC01].
Scope and Content

Segment from film "War Construction in the Desert". Includes shots of construction of the camp and various workshops.

Can 1
Churning water shot/trim, undated.
General Physical Description note
1 reel (25 ft.) : si., col. ; 16mm. TRT 00:00:06. This film has been digitized [ID: FILM_1974389_FC02].
Scope and Content

Footage of water churning over a rock.

Can 2
Farewell party, DuPont country club, February 1948.
General Physical Description note
1 reel (200 ft.) : si., col. ; 16mm. TRT 00:04:15. This film has been digitized [ID: FILM_1974389_FC03].
Scope and Content

Includes male executives enjoying a farewell party at the DuPont Country Club for the Hanford Delegation.

Can 3
Mess hall dance, 1945.
General Physical Description note
1 reel (150 ft.) : si., b&w ; 16mm. TRT 00:02:49. This film has been digitized [ID: FILM_1974389_FC04].
Scope and Content

African American employees dancing in the mess hall. Original housing included phrase "The Black Bottom" which suggests some of the dancing shown is actually the popular african american dance craze originating in the 1920's called "The Black Bottom".

Can 4
Patrol /Fire/Transportation, circa 1945.
General Physical Description note
1 reel (400 ft.) : si., col. ; 16mm. TRT 00:11:31. This film has been digitized [ID: FILM_1974389_FC05].
Scope and Content

Segment from film "War Construction in the Desert". Contains footage of the sign shop, transportation, the project patrol, fire department, construction equipment, trains, dispatchers, demonstrations during fire prevention week and barracks of prisoners who picked fruit in the orchards.

Can 5
War construction in the desert, edited version, circa 1945.
General Physical Description note
2 reels (2000 ft.) : si., col. ; 16mm. TRT 01:17:37. These films have been digitized [ID: FILM_1974389_FC09] and [ID: FILM_1974389_FC10].
Scope and Content

This version was compiled from seperate segments but is an incomplete version of the original film. Two segments were not included and are seperate films in the collection (Camp Construction/Construstion Shops and Patrol/Fire/Transportation). Reel 01 begins with history of in Washington state, where the project was to be constructed. Explains need for workers and and the extensive training involved. Shows construction of camp and various buildings. Includes typical Hanford girl's day and typical Hanford man's day. Both segments begin when subjects wake and goes through their entire day at the camp. Also includes amenities offered workers such as entertainment and food services. The 300 area is depicted with medical facilities, training and services offered to workers. Reel 2 contains construction footage of areas 100 and 200. Shots of administrative and supervisory personnel include Major General L.R. Groves (Commanding General, Manhattan District, United States Corp. of Engineers), Colonel F.T. Matthias (Area Engineer), Lt. Col. B.T. Rogers (Deputy Area Engineer), Major W.F. Sapper (Executive Officer), H.D. Riley (Major, Corp. of Engineers), E.G. Ackart (Chief Engineer, E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co.), G.M. Read (Assistant Chief Engineer), M.F.Wood (Manager, Constructin division), F.H. Mackie (Manager, War Construction division), G.P. Church (Field Project Manager), T.L. Pierce (Assistant Field Project Manager), G.E. Bubb (AFPM, Field Construction), L.S. Grogan (Field Superintendent), W.E. Redman (Assistant, Field Superintendent), H.F. Nunn (Safety Superintendent), W.V. Krewatch (AFPM, Office Engineering), A.D. Day (Engineering Office Superintendent), E.L. Plenninger (Service Superintendent), T.W. Brown (Chief Accountant), G.E. Hillman (AFPM, Control), B.M. Taylor (Housing Superintendent), J.M. Wetherhold (Medical Supervisor), R.E. Burton (AFPM, Service and Housing) and H. Villa (Control Superintendent).

Can 9-10
War construction in the desert, circa 1945.
General Physical Description note
3 reels (2400 ft.) : si., col. ; 16mm. TRT 01:05:00.
Scope and Content

Reel 01-Segments from the film "War Construction in the Desert"-Area; New Employees, Safety, Site Preparation, Location and Statitistics. Reel 02-Segments from the film "War Construction in the Desert"-Typical Girl's Day, Typical Man's Day, Recreation, Commissary, Activities, 300 Area (Hospitals, First Aid, Operations, Medical Facilities, Richland). Reel 03-Segments from the film "War Construction in the Desert"-Excavation Statistics, Concrete, Area Shots, Process Building Construction, Presonnel and Statistics. FIlm is severly warped was marked as having 1.1% edgeweave, should not be projected.

Can 6-8
Box
War construction in the desert, circa 1945.
General Physical Description note
1 videocassette (VHS) : 1/2 inch ; si., col. TRT 01:41:00 (3 copies). This video has been digitized [ID: VID_1974389_B02_ID01].
Scope and Content

Begins with history of the area in Hanford area, Washington, where the project was to be constructed. Explains need for workers and and the extensive training involved. Includes shots of construction of the camp and various workshops. Contains footage of the sign shop, transportation, the project patrol, fire department, construction equipment, trains, dispatchers, demonstrations during fire prevention week and barracks of prisoners who picked fruit in the orchards. Typical Hanford girl's day and typical Hanford man's day is depicted. Both segments begin when subjects wake and goes through their entire day at the camp. Also includes amenities offered workers such as entertainment and food services. The 300 area is depicted with medical facilities, training and services offered to workers. Contains construction footage of areas 100 and 200. Shots of administrative and supervisory personnel include Major General L.R. Groves (Commanding General, Manhattan District, United States Corp. of Engineers), Colonel F.T. Matthias (Area Engineer), Lt. Col. B.T. Rogers (Deputy Area Engineer), Major W.F. Sapper (Executive Officer), H.D. Riley (Major, Corp. of Engineers), E.G. Ackart (Chief Engineer, E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co.), G.M. Read (Assistant Chief Engineer), M.F.Wood (Manager, Construction division), F.H. Mackie (Manager, War Construction division), G.P. Church (Field Project Manager), T.L. Pierce (Assistant Field Project Manager), G.E. Bubb (AFPM, Field Construction), L.S. Grogan (Field Superintendent), W.E. Redman (Assistant, Field Superintendent), H.F. Nunn (Safety Superintendent), W.V. Krewatch (AFPM, Office Engineering), A.D. Day (Engineering Office Superintendent), E.L. Plenninger (Service Superintendent), T.W. Brown (Chief Accountant), G.E. Hillman (AFPM, Control), B.M. Taylor (Housing Superintendent), J.M. Wetherhold (Medical Supervisor), R.E. Burton (AFPM, Service and Housing) and H. Villa (Control Superintendent).

2
War construction in the desert, circa 1945.
General Physical Description note
2 videocassettes (HDCAM) : si., col. TRT 01:52:00.
Scope and Content

These tapes cannot be viewed.

2
War construction in the desert, circa 1945.
General Physical Description note
2 videocassettes (Betacam SP) : si., col. TRT 01:41:00.
Scope and Content

Begins with history of the area in Hanford area, Washington, where the project was to be constructed. Explains need for workers and and the extensive training involved. Includes shots of construction of the camp and various workshops. Contains footage of the sign shop, transportation, the project patrol, fire department, construction equipment, trains, dispatchers, demonstrations during fire prevention week and barracks of prisoners who picked fruit in the orchards. Typical Hanford girl's day and typical Hanford man's day is depicted. Both segments begin when subjects wake and goes through their entire day at the camp. Also includes amenities offered workers such as entertainment and food services. The 300 area is depicted with medical facilities, training and services offered to workers. Contains construction footage of areas 100 and 200. Shots of administrative and supervisory personnel include Major General L.R. Groves (Commanding General, Manhattan District, United States Corp. of Engineers), Colonel F.T. Matthias (Area Engineer), Lt. Col. B.T. Rogers (Deputy Area Engineer), Major W.F. Sapper (Executive Officer), H.D. Riley (Major, Corp. of Engineers), E.G. Ackart (Chief Engineer, E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co.), G.M. Read (Assistant Chief Engineer), M.F.Wood (Manager, Construction division), F.H. Mackie (Manager, War Construction division), G.P. Church (Field Project Manager), T.L. Pierce (Assistant Field Project Manager), G.E. Bubb (AFPM, Field Construction), L.S. Grogan (Field Superintendent), W.E. Redman (Assistant, Field Superintendent), H.F. Nunn (Safety Superintendent), W.V. Krewatch (AFPM, Office Engineering), A.D. Day (Engineering Office Superintendent), E.L. Plenninger (Service Superintendent), T.W. Brown (Chief Accountant), G.E. Hillman (AFPM, Control), B.M. Taylor (Housing Superintendent), J.M. Wetherhold (Medical Supervisor), R.E. Burton (AFPM, Service and Housing) and H. Villa (Control Superintendent).

2

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