During World War II, the small New Mexican town of Los Alamos hosted a top-secret laboratory for the Manhattan Project, a program dedicated to one goal: the successful creation of the atomic bomb. Although a wealth of research has explored the technical history of the bomb’s development, the social structure of Los Alamos, and the scientific importance of each, relatively little has been devoted to how both the bomb and its birthplace were conceptualized as exemplars in a greater framework of scientific advancement. Through the examination of historical periodical sources and contemporary curation, aided by existing scholarship, this I.S. examines the ways in which Los Alamos’s scientific reputation was crafted and expressed. Los Alamos and its national counterparts created a science-focused narrative that justified the development of the atom bomb and its use on Japan while also emphasizing the city’s historical importance as the progenitor of the Atomic Age. My research provides insight into how and why we construct narratives around ideas of science, morality, and responsibility, and encourages readers to examine and challenge dominant political or social narratives in our own time.


Welsch, Christina




History | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | United States History


los alamos, manhattan project, atomic bomb

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2019 Erika M. Purdy