Robert H. Martin: Manhattan Project Photographer

Robert H. Martin was the official Manhattan Project photographer.

Today is the anniversary of the death of my dear friend Robert H. Martin. Bob died of cancer on January 16, 2005. We became very close that last two years of his life. Bob was incredibly helpful as I worked on publishing the biography of his sister in-law, Concha Ortiz y Pino de Kleven. While Concha was still very alert at 94, Bob was able to fill in the blanks in certain instances. He was the only person alive who had intimately known Concha for more than half a century.

Capturing History on Film

When WWII began Robert H. Martin joined the army and became the photographer for the Zenith Radio Corporation, one of the major defense contractors for the government. In 1946 he was hired by the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He became the official photographer of this nation’s top-secret nuclear projects. The Chicago native married Manuelita Ortiz y Pino, a member of one of New Mexico’s most prominent Hispanic families. In addition to his work at the Lab, he spent decades documenting Santa Fe culture and history.

Witness to Warfare

Robert H. Martin at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

Robert H. Martin retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1970s. Bob had been exposed to radiation at LANL. He was one of the longest survivors of radiation-exposed cancer from the lab. He died in Santa Fe in 2005 at the age of 83. A photographer to the end, Bob took his self-portrait at the top of this blog shortly before his death.

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