News and Notes

R.I.P.: Richard H. Groves, son of Leslie Groves

by Alex Wellerstein, published January 27th, 2012

Richard H. Groves died on December 26, 2011, at the age of 88, according an obituary published yesterday in the Washington Post. Richard was the son of General Leslie R. Groves, head of the Manhattan Project.

Leslie Groves didn't tell his family what he was working on over the course of World War II — compartmentalization was, as he put it later, "the very heart of security."

That being said, Leslie Groves didn't ice out his son over the course of the war. The Leslie Groves papers at NARA contain lots of interesting wartime correspondence relating to Richard. My favorite bit: In early 1942, Leslie Groves wrote to Henry DeWolf Smyth, head of the Princeton Physics department and later author of the famous Smyth Report, for advice about whether Richard should select Physics as his college major.1

Click the image for the full PDF.

I love the feeling of paternal concern one gets from the note. General Groves, the man who would move mountains if it further the development of the bomb, suddenly becomes the concerned father, dutifully worried about whether his son's calculus was up to snuff.

  1. Citation: Leslie R. Groves to Henry D. Smyth (3 January 1942), in National Archives, RG 200, Papers of Leslie R. Groves, Correspondence, Box 4, "Richard H. Groves." []

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