5. Tennessee Valley Authority

The Great Depression of the 1930s spread extreme economic hardship across America. The Tennessee Valley was especially hard hit. Much of the land had been farmed too hard for too long. The soil was depleted and unsuitable for farming. Timber resources had been exhausted. Devastating floods were frequent.

To address these regional hardships, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, a major piece of his New Deal program. TVA was unique among federal agencies. Its employees constructed dams and hydroelectric plants, dug channels to enhance the navigability of the rivers in the Tennessee Valley, brought electric power to homes, helped replant forests and fought malaria. Eventually TVA's wide ranging authority to manage local economic resources touched the lives of most people in the area. The agency's work resulted in a vastly improved standard of living in the region.

The records and photographs of the Tennessee Valley Authority chronicle the work of this ground-breaking agency in extensive detail. From these documents and photographs we see not only the work of the agency, but we also have a window into the lives of the people of the area.


Photographs from the Records of the Tennesse Valley Authority

Click images for larger view.