Sue Olson, 94, came to Richland in 1944 and worked throughout Hanford as an executive secretary. She also worked in the labs at Hanford, calculating the numbers from radioactive samples. Eventually, she landed a job working for the assistant general manager of Hanford, Wilfred “Bill” Johnson. She says back then, “It was all business to win World War II. And afterward, during the Cold War it was that way too.” She had top-secret clearance and locked her filing cabinet each night before going home.
Olson’s story is part of the “Daughters of Hanford” multimedia project, in which radio correspondent Anna King ’00, photographer Kai-Huei Yau, and Washington State University artist Doug Gast tell the stories of women involved with the Hanford nuclear site. In twelve radio pieces, complementary portraits, website, and interactive exhibit, the project shows the perspectives of women in Hanford’s past and into the future cleanup—including politicians such as U.S. Sen. Patty Murray ’72, Hanford scientists, and environmental cleanup advocates.
King reports for Northwest Public Radio at WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. Assistance was also provided by WSU Tri-Cities Digital Technology and Culture student interns Joe Jensen, Monique Van Sant, and Pearl Kleppin.