Archives On The Air 220: The Evacuation Of The Bikini Atoll — The Reva Joy Hurwitz Cullen Papers

Oct 19, 2020

From 1946 to 1958 the U.S. Government conducted nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. 

During the tests, one of the few women allowed on the Atoll was a Red Cross worker named Reva Hurwitz. She assisted in evacuating natives from Bikini Island for the nuclear testing program.

Before conducting the tests, the government relocated Micronesian families who lived on the Bikini Atoll. They were moved to Rongerik Atoll, which was uninhabited because of its limited food and water, and because the Micronesians believed it was haunted by evil spirits.

Some of the original residents of the Bikini Atoll tried to move back to their home in 1974. Four years later they were shown to have dangerous levels of radiation in their bodies from eating food on the island and were again evacuated. There are currently no residents on the Bikini Atoll.

The Reva Hurwitz papers at the UW American Heritage Center contains letters and accounts of her time on the Bikini Atoll.