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The 1940s

During World War II, the United States needed power for essential war industries—to build bombs and airplanes for example—and the government turned to TVA to help supply this electricity.

Taking up the cause, TVA engaged in one of the largest hydropower construction programs ever undertaken in the United States. Early in 1942, when the effort reached its peak, 12 hydroelectric projects and a steam plant were under construction and design, and engineering and construction employment reached a peak of 28,000.

Besides supplying power to wartime industries, TVA contributed to the national defense in other ways. For example, the agency supplied more than 60 percent of the elemental phosphorus required by our armed forces for use in munitions. TVA's maps and surveys branch mapped nearly a half-million square miles of foreign territory for the Army. And TVA developed mobile housing for war workers.

Many wood products critically needed for war and postwar programs were produced at the 3,500 wood-processing plants in the Tennessee Valley. And the Tennessee River system was used to transport crucial grain, coal, petroleum products, pig iron and military vehicles for wartime use.

During World War II, Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska, known as the Father of TVA, said, “I have been everlastingly proud of the great contributions TVA has made, which cannot be fully revealed until peace returns to a tortured world.”

Bibliography of TVA History

A comprehensive bibliography for those who want to dig more deeply into the rich and fascinating history of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Be a Citizen Archivist!

Want a glimpse of life in bygone Appalachia while helping genealogists and other researchers? The National Archives and Records Administration needs volunteers to help transcribe its vast historical records, including those on families impacted by the construction of TVA dams. Learn how to join the effort.