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DOE Releases Manhattan District History and Oppenheimer Personnel Hearing Transcript via OSTI-Hosted OpenNet

by Rita Hohenbrink on Thu, October 09, 2014

U.S. Department of Energy OpenNet J.R. Oppenheimer


The Department of Energy (DOE) recently completed two significant declassification efforts and has made the newly released documents publicly available on the OpenNet database, which DOE launched 20 years ago to improve public access to declassified documents.  The website is supported by the DOE Office of Classification and hosted by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) on a cost-reimbursable basis.

Over a 12-month period concluding in July 2014, DOE released to the public the Manhattan District History, a multi-volume classified history of the Manhattan Project.  Commissioned in late 1944 by General Leslie Groves, the history was “intended to describe, in simple terms, easily understood by the average reader, just what the Manhattan District did, and how, when, and where.”  The history records the Manhattan Project’s activities and achievements in research, design, construction, operation, and administration, assembling a vast amount of information in a systematic, readily available form.

Through the combined efforts of the Office of Classification and the Office of History and Heritage Resources, in collaboration with OSTI, the full text of the entire 36-volume Manhattan District History, organized in 79 files and containing more than 13,500 pages, is now available to the public on OpenNet.  Unclassified and declassified volumes have been scanned and posted.  Classified volumes were declassified in full or with redactions; still classified terms, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs were removed and the remaining parts made available to the public.

In October 2014, DOE released the full transcript of hearings held by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in the spring of 1954 on Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, who built and directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Manhattan Project effort to develop the atomic bomb during World War II.  The hearings were held as a result of concerns that Oppenheimer had connections to communists and might have been an agent of the Soviet Union.

In December 1953, the AEC suspended Oppenheimer’s security clearance and, after a four-week, closed door hearing in April and May 1954, formally revoked the clearance.  The personnel security board found that Oppenheimer was loyal and discreet but nevertheless a security risk.  In June 1954, the AEC released a redacted version of the hearing transcript, with security classified information deleted, published by the Government Printing Office under the title, In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer: Transcript of Hearing before Personnel Security Board.  Sixty years later, DOE has reviewed the original transcript and made available to the public, for the first time, the full text of the transcript in its original form.  The 19-volume transcript is arranged in such a way that pages from which information was deleted in the published version are easy to locate with the deleted information readily identifiable. 

The Oppenheimer personnel hearings transcript was made available by the Office of Classification and the Office of History and Heritage Resources on the OpenNet site hosted by OSTI.  DOE Historian Terry Fehner has published a related blog, “Unlocking the Mysteries of the J. Robert Oppenheimer Transcript.”


Related OSTI Products: OpenNet
Page last updated on 2017-09-08 05:26

About the Author

Rita Hohenbrink's picture
Rita Hohenbrink
Information Management Specialist

Rita has been working at OSTI since 1990, as a federal employee till 2003, as an employee of Information International Associates, Inc. since then. She currently supports OpenNet and SDPS Portal web sites; including web site design/redesign, modifications, webmaster, and database acquisitions.