Welcome to the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History
World War II ignited in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, compelling Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States entered the war.
Concerned that the Germans might develop a theoretical super bomb, Albert Einstein penned a letter warning President Roosevelt in August 1939. The Oak Ridge Reservation was born in the race to develop this weapon to end the war.
The era of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge began in the fall and spring of 1942-43. Literally overnight, a multi-mission program with all the necessary buildings and infrastructure was raised and Oak Ridge bustled with nearly 80,000 people from all parts of the country, each bringing their unique skills to bear on the mission to end the war. Because the existence and purpose of the work in this city were kept secret, Oak Ridge became known as the Secret City.
The mission of the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History (COROH) is to ensure that the memories of those involved in the history of the city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, from its inception to the present, and its profound significance to the region, the United States, and the world will not be lost.
A committee of citizens and representatives of local, state, and federal organizations have joined together to collect the oral histories of members of the scientific/technical community and area residents. The COROH Committee works to secure the priceless and irreplaceable memories of the region known as Oak Ridge.
Committee participants include: Oak Ridge Public Library; City of Oak Ridge; American Museum of Science & Energy; Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge; Oak Ridge Heritage & Preservation Association; University of Tennessee, Center for the Study of War and Society; United States Department of Energy, Oak Ridge Office; United States Department of Energy, Office of Scientific and Technical Information; National Nuclear Security Administration; Tennessee State Library & Archives; Tennessee Valley Authority, Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board; and Oak Ridge community members.