Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Women Scientists of the Secret City

Nearly 640 women contributed to the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, but their stories are rarely told.
October 1, 2017
Elda Anderson, Elizabeth Graves, Naomi Livesay, and Norma Gros

Elda Anderson, Elizabeth Graves, Naomi Livesay, and Norma Gross were among the dozens of scientists who were recruited to Los Alamos in 1940s to help with the famous wartime effort known as the Manhattan Project.

In the 1930s, women earned only about 3 percent of U.S. doctorates awarded in physics.

The history of Los Alamos is a great tale: world-renowned scientists are recruited to a secret location in the remote southwest (known only by its P.O. box address) to build a weapon to put an end to World War II. This story has been told dozens of times but is often focused only on the most famous of the scientists involved. Yet the Manhattan Project was truly the work of many, and although it was a time when relatively few women were educated in science, it has become clear that many women contributed scientifically the success of this historic endeavor.