On Thursday, Mar. 12, the Bradbury Science Museum Association (BSMA), will kick off the 2020 Night with a Nerd season with Georgia Strickfaden’s presentation of Workforce: The Girls from Las Vegas (NM) at the Manhattan Project.
In 1940’s Los Alamos, the burgeoning effort to create the world’s first atomic weapon and put a swift and decisive end to WII ultimately required a workforce of over 7,000 scientists, engineers, military personnel, and local support staff. While the majority of scientific and military personnel were brought in from around the globe, Project Y recruiters focused on finding local talent for many of the support roles. However, finding a large, local workforce amidst the sparsely populated New Mexico towns meant those recruiters had to explore ever further afield. Eventually, that search led recruiters to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where they found and quickly 14 fourteen young women interested in working at Los Alamos. After the war, several of those women stayed on and contributed to the growth and vitality we see in Los Alamos today.
March’s Night with a Nerd presenter, Georgia Strickfaden, had the privilege of interviewing these women and Workforce: The Girls from Las Vegas (NM) at the Manhattan Project is their story.
Georgia Ann Wilder Strickfaden was born into nuclear-age Los Alamos. Her parents moved to Los Alamos from Santa Fe in 1946 when her father, George Wilder, came for a job with the newly forming Zia Company. After graduating from Los Alamos High School in 1966, Georgia Ann headed off to Eastern New Mexico University, where she earned a B.S. in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, with a minor in her first love, history. After brief teaching careers in Colorado and Arizona, she returned to Los Alamos and married Gerry Strickfaden, who had just begun his career at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Georgia worked briefly as a public liaison for LANL interviewees, whose families convinced her to share her wonderful, historical knowledge of the Lab and Los Alamos with the public. Buffalo Tours (now Atomic City Tours) was born in 1985 and the rest is, as they say, history. Today, Georgia remains passionate about local history and tourism and serves on several boards and committees dedicated to the preservation and sharing of Los Alamos’ unique history and its incredible opens spaces and trails.
This event is free for Bradbury Science Museum Association members. For nonmembers, the cost is $10, but you can join the BSMA online or at the event, if you’d like. However, everyone who wants to attend the event needs to register as space is limited.