Born in Waterbury, CT in 1921, Harry K. Daghlian, Jr, was the first child of Harry (Haroutune) Krikor Daghlian and Margaret Rose Daghlian (née Currie). Soon thereafter, the Daghlian family moved to the small coastal community of New London, where young Harry received all of his primary and secondary school education, while his father worked as an X-ray technician and later became supervisor of the X-ray laboratory at the Lawrence and Memorial Hospital.
As a student at Harbor Elementary School, the young Harry Daghlian played the violin in the school orchestra and seemed to be interested in everything at an early age, winning a silver cup as the most outstanding student at Harbor. Undoubtedly, his penchant for mathematics and science was engendered and fostered by his parents and his uncle, Dr. Garabed K. Daghlian, who was a professor of physics and astronomy at Connecticut College (CC) located on the outskirts of New London. Dr. Daghlian became known as the "father" of the Physics and Astronomy Department at CC and he was a frequent speaker for local civic groups on a variety of subjects ranging from the economic depression of that time to celestial comets.
In 1938, Daghlian graduated first in his class in mathematics from Bulkeley High School and started his undergraduate studies at MIT at the age of 17. After two years, however, his fascination with physics, particularly in the emerging field of particle physics, led him to transfer to the Lafayette, Indiana campus of Purdue University. There, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in the spring of 1942 and started his graduate fellowship studies, which included a stint as a physics instructor. [ Inset : Daghlian (extreme right) with two friends at Purdue. To earn extra money, Daghlian waited tables, as suggested by his attire.]
Nineteen forty three would prove to be a pivotal year for five Purdue physicists and their families. In the spring of that year, Oppenheimer was busily recruiting scientific personnel for Los Alamos and the majority of early recruits consisted of scientists with whom he had previous or ongoing collaborations. It was in this context that Marshall Holloway was invited to give a lecture at Los Alamos in the spring of 1943, and Oppenheimer used that occasion to recruit Holloway's group from Purdue. On returning, Holloway announced his intentions to transfer to Los Alamos after completion of cross-section studies of tritium and deuterium (T-D cross-sections). In addition to Holloway, his group consisted of three senior-level investigators - Charles "Charlie" P. Baker, Lionel Daniel Percival "Perc" King and Raemer E. Schreiber. A young graduate student, Harry K. Daghlian Jr., would help in finalizing the Purdue studies, and would join them in Los Alamos at a later date. [ Inset : Group photo of attendees at the Conference on Problems of Modern Physics (19 and 20 June, 1942) held at Purdue on the occasion of dedicating a new physics building.]