Digital Review: Nevada Test Site Oral History Project

Nevada Test Site: Oral History Project. Unlv. Southern Nevada: The Boomtown Years Mining. Accessed February 25, 2019.

This website is a collection of stories about the nuclear testing that was done in the Nevada desert north of Las Vegas. Over 1000 nuclear detonations were initiated at the test site between its opening in 1951 and 1992 when the United States finally ended nuclear weapons testing. The website has collected 335 hours of recordings from many different people connected to the site both directly and indirectly. There are stories told by people who were in the military that were in charge of operations at the site.  Contributions from physicists, other scientists, and engineers who worked on developing and building the nuclear devices that were being tested and the experiments that recorded data about their effectiveness. There are even stories from people who tried promoting peace by protesting the activities taking place at the test site. Native Americans lend their voices also to tell the story of how the desert is a sacred place to their tribes. 

The home page is well organized and easy to navigate.  There are links below the header that will take researchers to a timeline, the collection of stories, or maps of the relevant areas.  The timeline covers the entire Manhattan Project and it designates what events took place at the Nevada Test Site.  Clicking on an event on the timeline will take the researcher to interviews that talk about that time.  This is a very convenient search feature.  Going to the link Community of Voices gives the researcher access to all the interviews that the site has collected.  There is a search feature but no explanation on the metadata.  The search can be done by person or key word or phrase. 

The interviews are all recorded video.  The people telling their stories can be seen talking and giving their recount of events.  There are a wide range of perspectives to choose from.  The military people and scientists who were working inside the test site give researchers a feel for their work and conditions, while protesters and peace activists tell the tales of how they tried to stop the experiments that were designed to build bigger and better weapons.  The Natives American recount how the land is sacred to them and how this military base has affected their people by cutting them off from the land of their ancestors.  The stories go beyond the Manhattan project and the Cold War.  They talk about how lives were changed by the work done at the test site. 

This is a great website to use for research on the Cold War.  The ability to search by event, date, or key word is extremely useful.  This would be a great start to uncover primary accounts of the development of the American nuclear program.  It is also very helpful if doing Native American studies or research on the peace movement that went on during the Cold War.  The stories are easy to access and they are well documented.  This would be a useful site to even the casual user who just wanted to learn more about the era. 

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