TVA Heritage

These in-depth history columns tell about the vision, the personal and political struggles that made the Tennessee Valley Authority great—and that transformed the lives of the 10 million residents of the Tennessee Valley from ones of poverty to prosperity.

Germ Fighter

Early in her career, TVA’s Miss Elma Rood fought the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. Then she brought what she learned to the Tennessee Valley to instill good hygiene practices that resonate today.

Norris: An American Ideal

New urban theorists are hard at work designing the town of the future. But Norris, Tennessee—built by TVA over 80 years ago to house workers building the nearby dam—beat them all to the punch.

Bringing the Land to Life

In the 1920s and ’30s, much of the soil in the Tennessee Valley was worn out to the point of worthlessness. Potent fertilizers developed by TVA helped bring the land back to life.

Street of Dreams

Memphis’ Nov. 6 St. stands in honor of the 1934 day the city’s residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of receiving public power — all the benefits that came with it — from TVA.

The Cooperative Model

The roots of public power run deep in the Tennessee Valley, where the electric cooperative was invented, took hold and brought power to rural towns and farms throughout the region.


Classroom for the World

TVA's model of integrated resource development has historically been one shared with developing countries around the globe. And it still is today.

The Great Porcelain Experiment

The Great Porcelain Experiment

In the 1930s TVA was prepared to try anything to get the region back on its feet — even turning Tennessee Valley region's clay into fine porcelain. PLUS: Learn more about TVA’s historic kiln discovery.

TVA and the Appalachian Trail

The storied Appalachian National Scenic Trail touches TVA property in two spots: Fontana Dam and Wautaga Dam. Learn more about the great A.T., and how its history is intertwined with that of TVA.

The Enduring Legacy

Politically, TVA was one of the strangest hybrids in the “alphabet soup” of New Deal agencies. But FDR’s experiment in public power has stood the test of time.

Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright

We take holiday lights for granted, but they have a fascinating history that ranges from the first candles pinned to tree boughs to the two million bulb display at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Powering World War II

The thought probably never crossed the minds of Axis war planners, but America’s World War II arsenal included a potent secret weapon: TVA.

The Great Experiment

“In this enormous machine the balance wheel is human.” In a poetic 1933 article for Fortune magazine, author James Agee introduced the newly formed Tennessee Valley Authority to the world at large.

Books for the People

In honor of National Library Week, we look back at a time in which TVA provided books to enrich the lives of dam builders and people in remote communities throughout the Tennessee Valley.

The Great Compromise

In August of 1959, a deal hammered out between free-enterprise Republicans and public-power Democrats established “the fence” and gave birth to TVA as we know it today.

Greening the Valley

In the 1930s, TVA turned selected farmers into experts on erosion control and asked them to pass the idea along to their neighbors. Before long, agriculture in the TVA region was on the road to recovery.

How TVA Changed Lives

WATCH! On the occasion of TVA’s 85th anniversary, early employee Halie Forstner, 107, recalls how TVA changed lives and spread prosperity to one of the poorest places in the nation.

The Great Electric Tent Show Revival and Jubilee

When Bob Rice and his boys came to town, crowds turned out to hear the stump orators, the country singers and the good news of TVA electricity that would change their lives.

Home-Front Defenders

When World War II came and the men of the Tennessee Valley answered their country’s call to service in the armed forces, a select corps of women stepped up to serve TVA.

The Topography of War

The Topography of War

The cartographers of TVA’s Maps and Surveys division were among the most admired mapmakers in the country. And that was before they played an important part in winning World War II.

A Shot in the Arm

When TVA set up shop in the 1930s, smallpox and typhoid were still claiming victims in the TVA region. Twenty years and half a million TVA vaccinations later, they had become rarities.

The Artist With a Camera

When TVA set out to transform life in the Tennessee Valley, Charles Krutch made it his personal mission to capture the process on film. The resulting photographs were acclaimed as high art.

TVA History

From the poverty of the 1930s to the industry and modernization of the 60s right up to the prosperous, thriving present, read about the history of the Tennessee Valley and get a decade-by-decade view of the ways in which TVA has helped to shape it.

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.