As part of Women’s History Month and the 75th Anniversary of Oak Ridge, there will be a special Manhattan Project event on Thursday, March 22. The program will start at 5:30 pm at the New Hope Visitor Center at the Y-12 National Security Complex on Scarboro Road in Oak Ridge.
During the event, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will be presented with a biscuit pan secretly used by Kattie Strickland during the Manhattan Project. The biscuit pan is an important cultural artifact for the park that can help provide context of the story of a woman who worked on the Manhattan Project, a press release said.
Each person had a unique story of why they found themselves working in the Secret City, the press release said. For Kattie Strickland, an African-American woman from Alabama, going to the Secret City meant a better future for her family, the release said. She and her husband left their four children with her mother and sent money home every week. During the war, Oak Ridge was segregated, and African-American husbands and wives were not allowed to live together. Kattie asked construction workers to make her a biscuit pan from metal scraps. Cooking over a pot-bellied stove in her tent, she leveraged her homemade biscuits to feed the guards who then allowed her spend more time with her husband. Although she faced unfair treatment, Kattie Strickland persevered, providing opportunities for her family while contributing to one of the largest scientific undertakings in history, the press release said.
The event will also include the opening of “’HerStory:’ A Photography Exhibition of Women in the Secret City.” From janitor to homemaker to chemist, the women of the Manhattan Project worked hard and talked little.
During World War II, Oak Ridge was a government town of 70,000 workers, primarily women who lived in a camp-like environment of barbed wire, security checkpoints, and code words. Workers were fingerprinted, interviewed, assigned a job, and given a clearance badge. Housing was limited and cramped and often unheated. Food at the cafeterias was in short supply and lines were long.
The “HerStory” photography exhibition and Mrs. Strickland’s biscuit pan will be on display at the New Hope Visitor Center throughout the month of April and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Park Service, and Explore Oak Ridge.
The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal project to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park includes three sites that were involved in the project: Hanford, Washington; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. For more information, call the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at (865) 482-1942.
The New Hope Visitor Center is located at 602 Scarboro Road in Oak Ridge.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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