Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is a mammoth, 586-square-mile chunk of desert earth in southeast Washington state. It became a secret site for refining the plutonium needed for nuclear weapons during WWII and the Cold War. Now, Hanford is a boneyard of some of the earth’s nastiest chemicals and radioactive waste. Women have shaped Hanford’s history and they are actively involved with today’s cleanup. But their stories haven’t been told as often, or broadcast as loudly.In Daughters of Hanford, public radio correspondent Anna King, photographer Kai-Huei Yau and artist Doug Gast highlight the underrepresented women’s perspectives of the nuclear site in twelve radio pieces and complementary portraits. The Daughters interactive art exhibition in installed at The REACH in Richland, Washington through August 2016.

Daughters Of Hanford Wins History Award

Phyllis Fletcher
Northwest News Network
Top-secret World War II secretary Sue Olson chats with nuclear cleanup advisor Susan Leckband under the portrait gaze of geologist Zelma Maine Jackson. All three women were interviewed and photographed for the history project Daughters of Hanford.

A woman meets a mysterious stranger as she studies declassified documents about one the most polluted sites on earth.

Three generations of women are part of a family whose lives, health and even high school mascot bear markers of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington state.

The Washington State Historical Society recognizes these stories, and the entire project Daughters of Hanford, with the 2016 David Douglas Award.

Daughters of Hanford is oral histories, portraits and personal archives of women who changed the World War II plutonium site, and women who were changed by it. It's a series, a museum installation and a radio documentary. The David Douglas Award honors projects, exhibits and digital presentations that inform and expand appreciation of Washington state history.

Daughters gets its name from nuclear science. "Daughter products" are isotopes formed by radioactive decay of some other isotope.

The Daughters are World War II secretaries with secret clearance; they are physicists, geologists, anthropologists and biologists. They are watchdogs and regulators, and they are history come to life. Together they tell untold stories of our nuclear legacy in Washington state.

The multi-platform work was installed last year at The REACH interpretive center in Richland, which has had more than 38,000 visitors since the installation. A team led by our correspondent Anna King hung large metal-plate portraits of each Daughter and loaded tablets with an app that lets visitors hear each woman’s story as they view the exhibit. Daughters is installed at The REACH through August.

The Daughters documentary was recognized in June with an award for radio specials in the Society of Professional Journalists Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest.

The Washington State Historical Society will present the David Douglas Award at a ceremony in Tacoma in September. Anna shares this honor with photographer Kai-Huei Yau, digital artist Doug Gast and a team of interns. Congratulations to Anna, her colleagues and the Daughters of Hanford.