Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Michael Knight

Committee Members

Allen Wier, Charles Maland


The purpose of this thesis is to tell the mostly untold story of the 900 or so families that left the Oak Ridge valley in 1942-42 in order for the federal government to build the Manhattan Project, the secret project that built the atomic bomb.

The story is fiction but based loosely on the experience of the Sam and Mary Kesterson family. While the story covers the experiences of most of the family, it is told primarily through Lydia Mae Johnson’s point of view, a young teen who must confront adult issues early: a strange man comes into the community, the boy she has a crush on joins the military, a man is murdered in their community, and the family is forced to move from their home.

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