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Discussions with Deb: Nuclear Testing Certificates

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

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When Nuclear Testing Was Whimsical

In 1946 the United States began nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean with further tests being done in the US, mainly at the Nevada Test Site. These tests continued until 1992. There were around 1,054 tests done during this time.

One of the oddities of the atomic testing years is that the AEC/ERDA/DOE gave whimsical participation certificates to people who participated in the atomic tests. These certificates were given to personnel who worked on the tests.

Some of these certificates played it straight:

Operation Crossroads Certificate

Others not so much:

Operation Gnome

Operation Gnome had one of my favorite certificates:

Operation Gnome Certificate

Tiny Tot’s certificate from 1965 is interesting as it depicts a toddler playing in a sand pile of nuclear weapons plants.

Operation Tiny Tot

The Project 58 certificate is actually useful because it has the signatures of the people working on the test.

roject 58 certificate

Another useful feature of some of these is that the facilities and contractors involved are listed on some:

A few of my favorites are from Plowshares and show quite a bit of commentary:



Plowshare cert2


Project Rulison

There also was at least one participation certificate done for things other than the tests:

The Mound Diploma


I suspect there was more than just the Mound one done but I’ve never seen any others.
If you want to see more of these check out EECAP’s new Nuclear Testing webpage or Kelly Michaels Flickr page.