Some of our adventures in the Tennessee Valley

Posted by | January 10, 2008

“The first of a series of articles this, through which the chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority will keep Survey Graphic readers abreast of the most arresting single project in America today. As a base, take the long stalemate at Muscle Shoals; take times flat with business breakdown and unemployment; take a region deep-seated with neglect. Turn it all right-side up as a terrain of opportunity and start long run planning in the midst of our emergency moves.

“Reservoirs built now to impound rivers will have piled with silt in the course of years—unless dam-building is paralleled with a height against soil erosion in the highlands. Power plants, rimmed with mills and factories, will suck people into congested centers that ten years from now may duplicate the idle machines and unemployment of other industrial districts—unless a new way of life can be framed in this watershed. These are only two of the exciting alternatives staked out by the TVA.
Arthur E. Morgan, TVA chairman
“AS a small boy, it was my duty each evening to carry in the firewood and to fill the wood-box by the kitchen stove. In order to avoid monotony, I varied the task by different ways of piling the wood. Sometimes it would be in neat horizontal layers; sometimes on end; sometimes the sticks would be matched as to size and length.

“Let me do something of the sort in this series of articles through which I hope to share some of our adventures in the Tennessee Valley. They will be in the nature of an informal log of the work in process; less of a log, however, in another sense, than armfuls of situations, encounters, possibilities, plans and developments. The instalments will be written as we go along, but are less likely to stick to the calendar than to follow the bench-marks of our planning—to employ a term we use in civil engineering when we mark and record the elevation of points for future reference. I shall draw on letters, memoranda, notes of staff meetings, reports and addresses.

“In Antioch Notes, I was able to share periodically with faculty, students, graduates and friends of the college the stream of impulse and discovery that have gone into our educational experiment there, so that we had the reinforcement of their understanding and criticism. It is in much the same spirit that I shall try to put before one group of Americans outside the Valley the running story of what is going forward, and invite the interest of your readers.

“WHEN the President proposed the organization of the Tennessee Valley Authority his action was not in response to a happy thought without relation to his program as a whole. Rather, he saw it as a normal and integral part of that program. Some of the policies he proposed must of necessity be worked out on a national scale, such as the banking system and the NRA. There are others which can best be dealt with on a smaller scale before giving them national application, or which have regional variations and can best have regional solutions …”

Excerpt from
Strength in the Hills
by Arthur E. Morgan
Chairman, Tennessee Valley Authority
Survey Graphics, January 1934

Established in 1921 as a companion to the social work journal The Survey, Survey Graphic targeted a mainstream audience interested in social and cultural issues. In the 1930s, Survey Graphic provided a public forum for discussions about unemployment, labor unrest, race relations, healthcare, and technological change. According to the magazine’s editor, Paul Kellogg, Survey Graphic relied on “social team play,” bringing together writers from different fields and with different viewpoints to discuss issues that Americans were concerned about, but mainstream media publications seldom discussed.

Full article at:

Tennessee+Valley+Authority Arthur+E+Morgan appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

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