More Nuclear Interviews from the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project

By: Sadie Roosa

Interested in even more interviews about nuclear weapons and policy? Our War and Peace in the Nuclear Age collection contains 328 original footage interviews with world leaders, policy makers, scientists, and activists who played a critical role during the Cold War era. The interviews were for the 13-part miniseries that aired on PBS in 1989, which means that they were conducted between 1986 and 1989. While many of them give an in-depth look at the history of nuclear weapons, some of the interviews discuss the contemporary nuclear issues the world was facing at the time. This timing gives immediacy to some of the arguments, like in this interview with Barney Frank but it also leaves no room for looking back at the Cold War era from a removed standpoint.

We’ve recently come across a fantastic resource in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project. “The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is a comprehensive program dedicated to documenting, preserving and disseminating the remembered past of persons affiliated with and affected by the Nevada Test Site during the era of Cold War nuclear testing.” This project consists of interviews with more than 150 people, totaling 335 hours, conducted between September 2003 and January 2008. Searchable transcripts of these interviews are available, along with selected audio and video clips. The oral history format of the interviews allows for longer answers and more explanation from the participants, which often leads to very interesting stories. Since these interviews were conducted around 20 years after the ones on Open Vault, they allow for more perspective and comments on later developments in nuclear policy.

The UNLV project overlaps with our Open Vault collection. Both contain interviews with Sidney Drell, Richard Garwin, Cecil Garland, and Herb York. If you were intrigued with anti-MX Missile activist Cecil Garland’s gruff personality in the Open Vault interview, check out the UNLV interview with Garland for more on his background and philosophy. He even tells some of the same stories in both interviews. This UNLV interview is also great if you want to hear more from Richard Garwin, one of the most important scientists in developing the hydrogen bomb, discuss his earlier involvement in nuclear research working alongside Enrico Fermi, Hans Bethe, and Edward Teller. Garwin goes into great detail about the development of many technologies he discusses in War and Peace, like the U-2 surveillance plane and diagnostics nuclear tests.

If you have a moment, do check out the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project.

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