African Americans & the Manhattan Project

A Black and white photo of three men by a train and near a pile of what looks like coal. Two of the men are carrying a bucket.
Men in the coal yard at Oak Ridge. 



Thousands of African American women and men contributed to the Manhattan Project, but many of their stories remain untold. They were an important part of the workforce, especially at Hanford and Oak Ridge. More than 15,000 African Americans arrived in the Tri-Cities during the Manhattan Project. Approximately 7,000 African Americans worked in Oak Ridge for the Manhattan Project. Most, but not all, were lower-level laborers. They came to Hanford and Oak Ridge to help with the war effort and to earn higher wages but faced Jim Crow racism and segregation that was common throughout the US at that time. Although African Americans were generally construction workers, laborers, janitors or domestic workers, a limited number of African American men and women worked as scientists and technicians at smaller Manhattan Project sites in New York and Chicago.  

Many of the articles below explore African Americans' contributions to the Manhattan Project and the challenges they faced both at work and within their communities. Other articles explore African American connections to the Manhattan Project beyond just working for the top-secret project.

Click on the articles below to explore African Americans and the Manhattan Project 

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    Last updated: March 29, 2023

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    Mailing Address:

    Manhattan Project National Historical Park
    c/o NPS Intermountain Regional Office
    P.O. Box 25287

    Denver, CO 80225-0287


    Hanford: 509.376.1647
    Los Alamos: 505.661.6277
    Oak Ridge: 865.482.1942

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