|Birth Day:||March 13, 1908|
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After graduating from Middlebury College and Boston University, she served in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. It was during her time with the WAC that she became involved in the top-secret Manhattan Project.
Myrtle C. Bachelder was born on March 13, 1908, in Orange, Massachusetts. She earned a bachelor of science degree from Middlebury College in 1930, and became a high school science teacher and athletics coach in South Hadley Falls, Massachusetts. She received her master of education degree from Boston University.
During World War II, Bachelder enlisted in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in November 1942, at the Springfield, Massachusetts headquarters. After spending time in training at military bases in several U.S. states, she received orders assigning her to the Company 'D' WAC Detachment of the Manhattan District, United States Army Corps of Engineers. Her secret assignment was to lead a group of 15 to 20 women from the WAC, stationed in Des Moines, Iowa, to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and from there to Santa Fe, New Mexico. She and the women under her command arrived at Los Alamos, New Mexico on October 21, 1943.
After leaving the Army, Bachelder became a research chemist at the University of Chicago, where the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction had been achieved in 1942. Nobel Laureate James Franck had been Director of the Chemistry Division of the Metallurgical Laboratory during the earlier phases of the Manhattan Project. Bachelder joined the University's Institute for the Study of Metals (renamed as the James Franck Institute in 1967), and she conducted further research in metallochemistry.
These methods were used during the preparation of plutonium-239, the fissile material used in the construction of the atomic bomb for the Trinity nuclear test, on July 16, 1945. Analogous methods were used for the uranium weapon, code-named "Little Boy", which destroyed Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, and for the plutonium bomb which destroyed Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945, leading to the Japanese surrender. The secret program was under the general direction of J. Robert Oppenheimer, whom Bachelder described as:
The conclusion of the Second World War was also the dawning of a new "Atomic Age", in which the peacetime potential of nuclear energy began to be explored. Bachelder was among the scientists who opposed the May-Johnson Bill of October 1945, a Congressional bill proposed by the Interim Committee, which would have maintained military control over nuclear research. The bill was defeated in Congress and superseded by the McMahon Atomic Energy Act. In January 1947, the newly formed Atomic Energy Commission approved the declassification of 270 previously secret documents. These included discoveries related to X-radiation and purification of uranium ores, which had been made by Bachelder during the course of the war effort. At this time, the rarity and importance of Bachelder's achievements as a woman in science were also acknowledged.
Bachelder retired from the Franck Institute in 1973, and was subsequently active as an official of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). She died in Chicago on May 22, 1997.
A native of Orange, Massachusetts, she later settled in Illinois, where she worked in the chemistry department at the University of Chicago.
Currently, Myrtle Bachelder is 114 years, 6 months and 18 days old. Myrtle Bachelder will celebrate 115th birthday on a Monday 13th of March 2023. Below we countdown to Myrtle Bachelder upcoming birthday.