Franklin T. Matthias photographs1940-1968
Franklin “Frank” T. Matthias (1908-1933) served as commanding officer and area engineer of Hanford Engineer Works from 1943 to 1945. He oversaw production of plutonium at Hanford to create the world’s first nuclear weapon, the atomic bomb. The bulk of the collection consists of photographs taken during the construction of the nuclear facilities at Hanford and the village of Richland in Washington state. Researchers interested in World War II, the Manhattan Project, industrial chemistry, nuclear energy, and company towns would find this collection useful.
- Matthias, Franklin T. (Person)
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Franklin T. Matthias (1908-1993) served as commanding officer and area engineer of Hanford Engineer Works from 1943 to 1945. He oversaw plutonium production at Hanford to create the world’s first nuclear weapon, the atomic bomb.
Matthias was born in Glidden, Wisconsin, to Christina Thompson (1879-1975) and Franklin Herman Matthias (1875-1949) in 1908. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in civil engineering in 1931 and an MS in engineering in 1933. He began his career designing dams for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1935.
Matthias joined the regular army in April 1941 to fulfill his Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) obligation and supervised the construction of the Pentagon for General Leslie R. Groves (1896-1970). When Groves was chosen to head the Manhattan Project, he appointed Matthias to find a site for the U-235 and plutonium refining facilities. Matthias chose Hanford, Washington, and was subsequently charged with constructing both the Hanford Engineer Works and the village of Richland. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company was the prime contractor, with the Morrison- Knudsen Company handling regular construction. Work began in April 1943 and was completed in February 1945. Matthias was released from the army at the conclusion of the war and returned to civil engineering work.
Scope and Contents
The Franklin T. Matthias photographs document the construction of Hanford Engineer Works and Richland Village in Washington State between 1943 and 1945. Matthias served as commanding officer and area engineer of the Hanford Engineer Works during this time. Researchers interested in World War II, the Manhattan Project, industrial chemistry, nuclear energy, and company towns would find this collection useful.
The collection is organized into three series: Hanford Engineer Works, Richland Village, and the United States Army. Subseries are ordered topically and then chronologically.
The Hanford Engineer Works series contains photographs documenting the construction of the Hanford site between 1943 and 1945, including images of the construction camp, various construction zones, and the completed campus. The series also includes photographs of prominent visitors to Hanford in 1945; Hanford employees and visitors traveling to test the bomb in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945; and Hanford officials receiving an Army-Navy “E” Award on October 20, 1945.
The Richland Village series includes floor plans as well as exterior and interior shots of the prefabricated houses and family homes available to Hanford Engineer Works employees and their families. The series also contains images of daily life in Richland, including recreational activities like baseball games and facilities like stores, schools, and churches. Several pages of statistical data about the village can also be found in this series.
The United States Army series includes individual photographs of Franklin T. Matthias as well as photographs of Matthias with other engineers, army officials, and civilians. The series also contains two phonograph records from the presentation of an Army-Navy “E” Award to Hanford employees; Signal Corps photographs from WWII battlefields in Italy, Japan, and France; a film reel from the 25th Anniversary celebration of Hanford-Richland, held in Hanford in June 1968; and an editorial cartoon of Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) and German scientists.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
Film material (Film Can 1) is located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at firstname.lastname@example.org
Language of Materials
Franklin T. Matthias papers (Accession 2086), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
- Matthias, Franklin T. (Person)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Franklin T. Matthias photographs
- Peyton Cleary
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