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Archaeologist to give talk at NMSU about Manhattan Project National Historical Park

The Manhattan Project conjures the pictures of nuclear bombs, mushroom clouds and the end of World War II. Now it is the focus of one of the nation’s newest national parks.


Woman head and shoulders
Ellen McGee, Archaeologist and Historian at Los Alamos National Laboratory will give her talk “A New Park for the New Century: The Making of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park" on Thursday, Oct. 13 as part of the "NMSU Celebrates the National Parks" lecture series. (Courtesy Photo)

Los Alamos is one of three locations where work was completed on the nation’s first nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project. Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington are also part of that national park, which was created last November when the U.S. Departments of Interior and Energy signed an agreement.

Ellen McGehee, archaeologist and historian at Los Alamos National Laboratory, will be at New Mexico State University to explore what it took to put it all together in her talk “A New Park for the New Century: The Making of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park” from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13 at O’Donnell Hall, Room 111 on the NMSU campus.

McGehee, who received her doctorate in history from the University of New Mexico last year, worked on the award-winning restoration of the V-Site, among the the last significant structures still standing at Los Alamos associated with the development and assembly of the world's first nuclear devices. Her work and documentation led to the establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

“My presentation will focus on the genesis of the park, its legislative path to authorization, and its unique, multi-state and multi-partner park structure, said McGehee. “Park properties—what’s included and what could be included—will be highlighted along with their specific historical contributions to the park’s World War II narrative.”

McGehee’s lecture is the fourth in a series for “NMSU Celebrates the National Parks,” a program sponsored by NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences to bring awareness of the national parks during the organization’s centennial.

In addition to the lecture series, as part of the celebration of the 100 years of the National Park Service, NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences is hosting classes and sponsoring a blog series to honor and raise awareness about America’s national parks. NMSU history professor Jon Hunner is traveling the country blogging and writing short histories of the parks he visits while on sabbatical this fall. He plans to compile the posts into a book when he returns. Read about his travels at drivenbyhistory.blogspot.com.

Find more information about upcoming speakers for “NMSU Celebrates the National Parks,” at
https://history.nmsu.edu/events/nps/. For questions, contact NMSU’s Director of the Public History Program Peter Kopp at pkopp@nmsu.edu.