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NHD District Fair

Senior Division
December 11, 2014

A Tale of Two Bombs:


The Legacy of a Manhattan
Project

Alex Demers
Joe Bertagna
Liam Prior
Thomas Dowd
Tommy Riccio

For National History Day 2014 our group chose the Manhattan Project, focusing
on the leadership of Harry Truman and the long-term legacy of the bombings of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We debated a range of potential topics, but it soon became clear
that the Manhattan Project was the strongest topic that also related directly the 2014 NHD
theme of Leadership and Legacy. Our group had been fascinated by the concept and
immense efforts of the Manhattan Project from our past knowledge of it, but was eager to
dig into deeper detail. The Manhattan Project was the ideal topic because our group had
great interest in investigating it, and it meshed perfectly with the 2014 theme.
Our research began by gathering biographies on the major figures in the
Manhattan Project in order to get a background on the dynamic of the top-secret project.
These included David McCulloughs Truman and multiple analyses of Robert
Oppenheimer. Then, we began to dissect the details of the project by accumulating
valuable primary sources. These sources included the famous Einstein-Szilrd Letter,
chilling stories from bomb survivors, first-hand accounts from the bombers themselves,
and President Trumans address to the American people following the bombings. Later,
we analyzed the great legacy of the Manhattan Project, specifically the arms race, nuclear
proliferation, and nuclear weapons in todays world. Beyond book and journal research,
we sought out interviews in order to get analysis straight from the experts. We able to
conduct two interviews with a Boston College Professor of 20th century American history,
and a historian specializing in nuclear weapons and nuclear secrecy. These interviews
gave us valuable insights as well as a new perspective on the Manhattan Project. During
the construction of our project we continued researching our topic in order to leave no
loose ends and bolster areas of need. Our comprehensive research of the Manhattan

Project was a blend of analytical secondary sources, essential primary sources, and expert
analysis.
We elected to make a website because we felt it was the template that we could
best present out topic with. The website offers a more interactive experience than the
alternatives and we have the ability to go beyond just words by including such features.
Also, we had previous experience with Weebly from last NHD, so we knew the important
tools needed to create an effective website. The creation of the project was not as simple
as throwing our research onto the website, we embedded interactive features for the
viewer such as a Prezi, timeline, and brief video clips. We mixed in these features along
with iconic photographs, powerful quotes, and strong analysis. Using our Weebly
experience, interactive features, and extensive research we were able to create an
effective website.
Our topic fits extremely well with 2014-15 NHD Theme of Leadership and
Legacy. The theme of leadership is represented in our project by President Trumans
decision to drop the Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our group believed the first
bomb was and example of decisive and confident leadership while the second bomb was
hard to justify. The second part of the theme, legacy, is also extremely prevalent in our
project. The Manhattan Project triggered the atomic age and the arms race. These events
led to the Cold War and the atomic world today. The Manhattan Project is the perfect fit
for the 2014 NHD theme of Leadership and Legacy.