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TVA Photography - Thirty Years of Life in the Tennessee Valley

TVA Photography

Thirty Years of Life in the Tennessee Valley

By Patricia Bernard Ezzell
Paperback : 9781578065837, 192 pages, 147 b&w photographs, September 2003

From official TVA files, documentary images of the New Deal and its legacy


This book highlights the historic photographs of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a New Deal agency created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first hundred days in office. At that time, the region served by the Authority was one of the most economically depressed areas of the nation. It was continually plagued by soil erosion, flooding, disease, and poverty. TVA was created not only to improve the navigability of the Tennessee River and to provide flood control and cheap electricity but also to help in improving the overall quality of life. The photographs in this book document the efforts the agency took to meet this mandate.

As the book highlights the agency's first thirty years, it also focuses on the talented photographers who snapped the images during the period 1933 to 1963. Primarily represented in this volume is the work of Lewis Hine and Charles Krutch. Hine is best known for his publication Men at Work, for his photographic exposé of the injustice of child labor, and for his series of photographs documenting the construction of the Empire State Building. Although he worked for TVA for less than one month, he left a photographic legacy that includes such subjects as farm life, the camps of the newly formed Civilian Conservation Corps, and Norris Dam in the early stages of its construction.

However, it was Krutch, a self-proclaimed amateur photographer, whose work came to define the public image of TVA.

This book provides a glimpse into the past, affording a view of a depressed region of the South as it was transformed into a place where one of the most complex technological advancements of our time—the atomic bomb—was created.