Uranium Ore Samples - American Museum of Atomic Energy (1950s, 1960s)
These samples of uranium ore were sold at the American Museum of Atomic Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, sometime during the 1950s or 1960s. Each plastic case is 1 1/8" x 1 1/8" x 5/8" in size.
During tours of the Museum, visitors would stop at the gift shop (don't all tours end at a gift shop?) where the ore samples and other items would be sold. On one occasion, a visitor asked a Museum staff member if the ore was really radioactive. In an attempt to reassure her that her souvenir was harmless, he told her that she needn't worry and that the ore was not radioactive. Well, that was not what she wanted to hear. Thinking she had been cheated, she lodged a complaint with her congressional representative who then raised the issue with the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in Washington. The AEC then went to the Museum and said that from then on, they had better have a GM detector on hand at the gift shop to confirm that the souvenirs were radioactive as advertised!
Roger Cloutier, personal communication.