H I C A G O
R I B U T E
Physicist and peace activist
As a faculty member
at the University of Rome, Fermi won the 1938 Nobel Prize in physics for
producing artificial radioactive substances. Fearing for his Jewish wife,
Laura, because of Fascist Italys anti-Semitic legislation, he brought
his family to the United States directly from the awards ceremony in Stockholm.
that the United States could develop atomic weapons led to his work at the
University of Chicago from 1942-1954. There he constructed the nuclear reactor
as part of an enormous secret wartime effort called the Manhattan Project.
He and his team then were sent to New Mexico to develop the atomic bomb.
After the war, Fermi
returned to the University of Chicago and taught there until his death.
Fermilab, the U.S. Department of Energys national laboratory in the
western suburbs, is named in his honor.
Laura Fermi became a
writer and political activist. Her books reflected the spectrum of her experience.
Illustrious Immigrants: the Intellectual Migration from Europe 1939-41 and
Atoms in the Family: My Life with Enrico Fermi are among her best-known
works. The Fermis lived here at 5537 South Woodlawn Avenue.