Naval Reactors Facility Oral History Project
About the Project
The Naval Reactors Facility Oral History Project is a collaborative story-telling effort being coordinated by Colorado State University’s Public Lands History Center (PLHC) and the Center for the Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML), under contract with Fluor Marine Propulsion (FMP). FMP operates the Naval Reactors Facility under contract with and oversight by the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, also known as Naval Reactors.
CEMML is responsible for the content of this project as obtained from a variety of independent sources. The information collected will not represent the position of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program on the topics discussed.
The Naval Reactors Facility (NRF) is the site of significant moments in the history of nuclear research, and naval propulsion. As a site containing historically significant prototypes and facilities that shaped the future of naval nuclear propulsion, planned demolition of facilities at the NRF have made it necessary to conduct oral history interviews as part of a National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) mitigation strategy that will help preserve the site’s memory for posterity.
The Naval Reactors Facility Oral History Project will support efforts to preserve the history of the three prototype facilities: S1W, A1W, and S5G in public memory. The project will center on recording memories of the site’s history, but may also capture valuable memories of other closely related subjects. This project aims to share and preserve the site’s history in the words of the individuals who worked and trained at the site. It will also seek to document how the site changed over time. Interviews will be conducted by oral historians from Colorado State University (CSU). Final recordings and interviews are expected to be archived at the U.S. Library of Congress.
About Oral History
Oral history is a recorded conversation about your memories of the past. It differs from ordinary conversation because it is planned, structured (questions are shared and discussed in advance of the interview), and relates to specific parts of an interviewee’s lived experience. An oral history interviewer is trained in oral history methods. Your interviewer will help to keep the conversation on track. Despite this, your interview should still feel conversational and organic, and does not require extensive preparation on the interviewee’s part.
Oral history is:
- A focused and structured conversation about a specific part of the past
- A method of sharing information about the past
- A part of the public record
- The creation of a new historic resource for scholars and the public
- An oral history is documented, recorded and transcribed to preserve it for the future
Oral history is not:
- Anonymous. The value of the oral history is that it is a record of an identifiable individual’s experience.
- Private. It is part of the public record. No classified information should be shared in an oral history interview.
- Focused on present-day events. Oral history interviews are primarily interested in your memories of the past.
The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program maintains sensitive information. Personnel involved in this project need to remember the principles of information security and Need to Know to ensure that Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program information is protected.
The Oral History Process
The Oral History Association (OHA) provides guidance and best practices for oral history interviewers. These best practices help ensure that oral histories are collected and preserved ethically. This project is conducted in accordance with those best practices, which ensure that narrators are informed about their rights, the process of producing an oral history, as well as their expected time commitment.
How to Prepare for Your Oral History Interview
Historic preservation personnel will reach out to invite you to participate in this project. If you agree, they will share information about the project and what the oral history interview will entail. If you have additional questions regarding your oral history interview, please use the contact information provided on this web page.
1. Complete Required Documentation
Preparing for your interview will involve completing paperwork that establishes some basic biographic information about you, your military service, and your work or training at the NRF. This paperwork is part of the requirements of the Library of Congress's Veteran’s History Project.
Please bring the completed documents to your interview in hard copy:
- Biographic Data Form
- Veterans Release
- CSU Release
You can complete the paperwork on your own or with assistance from your interviewer. You must request assistance in advance. This may take up to 1-2 hours to complete, depending on the length and complexity of your service record. Copies of the paperwork are located under "Documents for Download."
2. Review Oral History Questions
Oral history interview questions are also posted on this page under "Documents for Download." Because this project will interview both trainees and other NRF personnel, not all questions will be relevant to you. You are welcome and encouraged to bring notes with you to the interview. As the narrator, you may elect not to answer certain questions and make decisions about what to share with your interviewers.
3. Schedule Your Interview
Click "Schedule Your Interview" to access the scheduling form. Select your preferred interview time from the available slots. Be sure to select the correct form for your interview location, either Idaho Falls, or Pittsburgh.
Information for Civilian Interviewees
We welcome and encourage civilian operators and other NRF personnel to participate in the project. You do not need a service record to be included in this project. Civilians are requested to complete the Colorado State University Release and the Civilian Biographic Information Form located under Civilian Documents for Download.
Sharing the Project with Others
Oral history is a collaborative and open process. Because interviewees know their own community the best, oral history interviewers rely on interviewees to identify other people with memories and experience related to the project scope.
If you aware of someone who should be invited to share their memories with the Naval Reactors Facility Oral History Project, please reach out to CSU project personnel using the contact information located at the bottom of the page.
How to Share the Project
- Reach out to the individual you would like to invite to the project. Ask if you can share their contact information with project personnel.
- Share the project web page with the prospective interviewee so they can learn about more the project (https://col.st/jpHu2).
- Contact CSU project personnel by phone or email with the name, email, and telephone number of the person you would like to invite.
- Participation in this project is restricted to US citizens.
- Any personnel who worked or trained at the Naval Reactors Facility is eligible to participate, especially personnel who worked or trained at the NRF during or prior to the end of its training mission in 1994.
- The project welcomes participation from civilian operators. You do not need a service record in order to give an interview.
A team of interviewers from Colorado State University will be conducting in-person oral history events that will collect interviews. At these events, interviewers will remind you about the oral history process, share information about the project timeline and answer any questions that you may have.
Interviews will consist of 45-minute sessions and will be recorded on audio and video. You can expect to spend roughly an hour conducting the interview. You are always free to decline to answer questions, take a break, or even end the interview. You may request to use a pseudonym, but bear in mind that one of the values of oral history is that the interview relates to the experience of an identifiable individual.
Your interviewer may ask you to repeat information that may already have been shared in provided paperwork or past discussions. This is so you can share this information and have it preserved as part of the public record.
After you conduct the interview, you will sign a release form that allows the project to share your final transcript and recordings with the NRF, the Library of Congress, and other NR-approved organizations. After signature, you may still withdraw from the project at any point prior to the project’s end, 12/31/22.
1. Listen to and Correct Your Transcript
After your interview concludes, the interviewers will produce a transcript of your conversation. This transcript and your recording will be sent to you electronically for your review. When you receive your materials, listen to the audio and read the transcript together. Make notes on anything that you would like to correct or change.
Final transcripts may not be word perfect. They are lightly edited for clarity—for example, repeated words are removed to make the transcripts easier to read and use. Information is generally not removed from the interview audio, except under very specific circumstances. Once your oral history is placed in an archive, it can be difficult to make changes to the transcript, so conduct your review carefully.
2. Return Your Transcript
After you make corrections, return your reviewed transcript by email to interviewers so they can incorporate your edits and produce your final transcript. You will receive copies of your final transcript and audio for your records. You may follow up with interviewers regarding project deadlines and to resolve any problems with the transcript. You may continue to make changes to your transcript until the project’s end, 12/31/22.
Your transcript, recordings, and paperwork will be shared with NR-approved public repositories, including the U.S. Library of Congress, where they will be preserved under the Veterans History Project. Your materials will be shared with the public and made a part of the public record.
You will also receive a copy of your final transcript and recordings for your records.
Interviews will be conducted in 2022. Current FMP personnel are advised to use FMP iPhones or a home internet connection to access the scheduling tool.
If you will be interviewing in Idaho Falls, click here to schedule your interview. Interviews will be held during the week of July 18th.
Bettis Labs (West Mifflin, PA) and Bechtel Labs, Liberty Street Location (Schenectady, NY)
If you will be interviewing at the Bettis or Bechtel Labs, click here to schedule your interview. Interviews will be held during the week of October 24th.
Idaho Falls Location Information
Interviews in Idaho Falls will be held at the Idaho Falls Residence Inn by Marriott.
Residence Inn Idaho Falls
635 West Broadway, Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA, 83402
Bettis Lab Location Information
Interviews will be held at the Bettis Laboratory in West Mifflin, PA
Bechtel Lab Location Information
Interviews will be held at the Bechtel Lab, Liberty Street location, in Schenectady, NY
600 Liberty St, Schenectady, NY 12305
Naval Project Partners
About the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program
The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program provides militarily effective nuclear propulsion plants and ensures their safe, reliable and long-lived operation. Naval Reactors is responsible for all aspects of the Navy’s nuclear propulsion, including research, design, construction, testing, operation, maintenance, and ultimate disposition of naval nuclear propulsion plants.
The Naval Reactors Facility (NRF) was established in Idaho in 1950, coinciding with initial construction of the Submarine, First Design, by Westinghouse (S1W) prototype facility, achieving criticality in 1953. Over the years, the NRF expanded to include testing and training for the Aircraft Carrier, First Design, by Westinghouse (A1W) prototype plant, which reached criticality in 1958/59, and the Submarine, Fifth Design, by General Electric (S5G) prototype, which achieved criticality in 1965.
Colorado State University Partners
About the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands
The Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML) has supported military readiness and resource conservation for nearly four decades. CEMML’s mission is to contribute, through research, teaching, and outreach, to the conservation and sustainable management of natural and cultural resources entrusted to public land management agencies.
CEMML supports the stewardship and management of cultural resources administered by Federal land management agencies. Cultural resources are tangible remains of human history that enliven, enrich, and inform current and future generations. CEMML’s integrated, mission-oriented approach to cultural resource management involves technical support and management planning to meet mission goals and objectives for the responsible and effective management of cultural resources in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
About the Public Lands History Center
Established in 2007, the award-winning Public Lands History Center (PLHC) integrates research, education, and outreach in the best tradition of a land-grant university. Projects with National Parks and other public land management agencies enlist faculty, graduate students, and other researchers to conduct historical research that directly informs current resource management challenges.
For additional information regarding interviews, scheduling, and questions regarding completing project paperwork, please contact:
The Public Lands History Center
Mail: 1301 S. College Ave. Fort Collins, CO 80523-1776
Phone: (970) 491-6130
For additional information regarding Naval Reactors and their generous support of the NRF Oral History project, please contact:
Naval Reactors Facility, Idaho
Jeremy Robison, FMP Engineer
Phone: (208) 533-8630