How much support did America give to the scientists working on the Manhattan Project, be it financial or otherwise?

Did physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer who headed the project to develop the atomic bomb get whatever he asked for? As for the likes of Leo Szilard and Enrico Fermi who built the first nuclear reactor, I understand they received some financial help before the Manhattan Project started, what about after?.

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    About 98% of the money spent on the Manhattan Project was on things like Oak Ridge and Hanford which produced enriched uranium and plutonium. The money spent on the scientists and their work was peanuts by comparison. You can get an accurate estimate of the relative budgets by comparing the number of scientists (a few hundred; with support staff, maybe a few thousand) and the total workforce (200,000).
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:09
  • The whole point was that 99.9 % of Americans never heard of it until after the war. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 2:00
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    Do you mean support for the project, or personal support? I can't find any information on salaries from a casual search, and from what I read, I don't think living conditions and general treatment were all that great.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


A good reference is The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. Note that America (the government) initiated the Manhattan Project to develop the bomb and, as one aspect, recruited the necessary scientists and engineers from across the country as well as from England and refugees from Germany. In turn, these scientists received all the support they needed to the tune of about $2 billion. They had a high priority as far as getting any materials and other resources they needed. In one instance, for example, described in the book, there was a requirement for a large amount of silver. They actually got the silver from the US Mint (it was eventually returned).

  • Thanks! Do you know of any resources that describe in full or briefly all the project sites and their purpose? Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 1:03
  • Actually, the requirement was for a large amount of copper for electromagnets; silver would work almost as well, and wasn't a critical war material. So the Manhattan Project found itself the recipient of a loan of 430,000,000 troy ounces of silver from the Mint.
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 1:54
  • @Mathematica, Wikipedia's article on the Manhattan Project and sub-articles provide an overview.
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 1:56

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