Respondent
Melamed, Nathan T.
Interview Date
February 18, 1998
Abstract
Respondent Chemist, born 5/1/23.
[T1S1] Respondent born in Warsaw, Poland; father from Russia, mother from Poland; gives detailed description of early life until immigration to U.S. at age 6. Respondent elaborates on poor conditions in Europe, restrictions to Jews, provides names of grandparents and parents; describes street where he lived, still there. Respondent discusses father's arrival in U.S.; preceded mother and Respondent, 1927; comments on conditions in New York when father arrived; Respondent and mother followed, 1930. Respondent explains depression still existed; parents long work hours; starting 1<sup>st</sup> grade and description of living arrangements in the Bronx, NY; reminisces on childhood, friends, activities and notes father came to U.S. without Respondent's knowledge.
[T1S2] Respondent reflects on feelings towards mother in regards to father's leaving Europe without his knowledge. Respondent explains lack of Jewish education, father atheist, recalls his religious observance in Europe; practiced no religion in U.S. Respondent notes attendance at Townsend Harris School; accepted bright children; graduated city college at age 20, majored in chemistry. Respondent begins discussion of involvement with Manhattan Project; advised by friend to apply for job at Columbia University, 1943; went to physics building and observed people filling cans with graphite; because of Respondent's knowledge of nuclear physics, associated it with A bomb and notes beginning. Respondent names Fermi and Dunning, electronic expert, reproduced experiment that showed nuclear fission done in Europe by Hahn and Mitner. Respondent interviewed for job and accepted; details Manhattan Project started at Columbia University, explains physical set up; notes concern experiments could cause damage, needed site with intellectual base, but less dense population, moved to Staggs Field, University of Chicago; Respondent explains force would be biggest ever conceived. Respondent notes he remained at Columbia and details his work: separating the uranium isotope necessary to build the bomb; people in Chicago concerned with process of creating a chain reaction. Respondent explains necessity to locate area where bomb could be built and tested, moved to Los Alamos; notes his work remained with separating uranium isotopes; mentions secret patent he holds; had secret exemptions from being drafted. Respondent discusses mother's mental illness, institutionalized when Respondent was eleven.
[T2S3] Respondent expands on Manhattan Project; began to function: 1943; mentions establishment of Oak Ridge, TN; expansion of project to Nashville Bldg., New York, Respondent's work, project disbanded after Hiroshima; most personnel dismissed, take over of project by Union Carbide; gives reasons for losing position and difficulty in finding another position. Respondent mentions marriage; provides additional information on uranium and atomic power. Respondent reflects on next position: work on technical publication for Kroll-Collier publishers; describes his work while studying at night for Ph D.; reflects on move to Cleveland and employment with New Horizons, Goodrich subsidiary; focused on solid state physics and semi-conductors; worked with titanium leading to development of Horizon Titanium.
[T2S4] Respondent comments on 2<sup>nd</sup> marriage and move to Pittsburgh; names 1 son, adopted in first marriage; life in Churchill: 1950, description of work with Westinghouse, Forest Hills; provides names and careers of 2 other sons, one from wife's previous marriage and one from present marriage. Respondent provides information on present wife; met in folk dancing class; mentions involvement with American Civil Liberties Union, Chamber Music Society, and others
[T3S5] Respondent notes interest in politics leftist centered, from socialist background, father left wing. Respondent mentions time spent in Spain: 6 weeks a year; begins discussion of Brazil; notes one of highlights in his life and provides genuine sense of accomplishment.
[T3S6] Respondent describes educational system in Brazil, need for new faculty for university and need for new area for physics department. Respondent recounts friends request to come to Brazil to set up activity that would benefit the country; ordered equipment to set up lab, discusses his accomplishments in Brazil; given leave of absence from Westinghouse. Respondent explains severance package from Westinghouse and reasons concerning it; after three years, hired back as consultant; describes retirement as gradual process.
Subjects
Atomic bomb; Brazil; Chemistry; Science; Mahattan Project (U.S.); Physics; Warsaw (Poland); Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company
Birth Date
1923
City
Warsaw
Country
Poland
Profession
Chemist
Work
Westinghouse
Residence
Churchill, PA;
Occupation (father)
Aid (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), Teacher
Length (hours)
3
Interviewer1
Schwartz, Betty
Interviewer2
Weiss, Selma
Indexer
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 104 FF 25
Identifier
ais196440.301
Rights
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh