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IEEE East Tennessee Section History

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For several years before 1936, J. Elmer Housley, Dr. J. G. Tarboux, Chase Hutchison, E. E. George, and other active members of A.I.E.E. in East Tennessee felt the need for a Section in the eastern part of the state. Several persons associated with the electrical industry expressed their desire to join the Institute if a local Section was formed but there were not enough members and applicants for the formation of a new section. The beginning of TVA and the expansion of local electrical industries increased the number of Institute members in the area. This created the need for a local Section.

On May 25, 1936, the Board of Directors of the A.I.E.E. authorized the establishing of the East Tennessee Section. The Board assigned to it all the State of Tennessee east of the boundaries of Williamson, Robertson, Davidson, Marshall, and Giles counties. The first meeting was on September 2, 1936, and the Section organized, with Chase Hutchison as the first chairman and 52 charter members.

Centennial Archiving Project 1884-1984

As part of its observance of the IEEE Centennial in 1984, the East Tennessee Section has completed its centennial archiving project, an effort which involved gathering in, screening, and organization of past East Tennessee Section records for micro-fiching and eventual preservation in archival libraries. The project was initiated at the suggestion of 1984-85 Section Chairman J. Reece Roth, and was enthusiastically adopted by the Executive Committee of the East Tennessee Section at its July, 1984 meetings. At that meeting, the Section officers were authorized to spend up to $500 of the Section reserve, currently invested in an IEEE headquarters account. In August, 1984, the Section was able to obtain support from Mr. Robert S. Duggan, Jr. Director of the IEEE Region 3, who authorized the transfer of $650 of Region 3 "needy section funds" to the East Tennessee Section to support its centennial archiving project.

The Centennial Archiving Committee consisted of the following members: J. Reece Roth, Chairman; Richard F. Keck; John W. Crabtree; Paul Micale; William H. Dainwood; Lawrence Peterfruend; Clarence H. Mock. The local section was particularly fortunate to have the assistance of John Crabtree, a charter member of the East Tennessee Section when it was founded in 1936. The other members of this committee were past chairmen of officers of the East Tennessee section.

The procedure followed by the committee was as follows: In the September, October, and November newsletters, an appeal was made to members of the East Tennessee Section to turn in any past records of the Section which they had in their files or of which they had knowledge. This appeal produced a two-drawer filing cabinet in the basement of Ferris Hall, the Electrical Engineering Department at UTK, which contained about 15 years’ worth of records: and numerous individual file folders which had been passed on from one officer to the next. By the time the committee was ready to start work in early December, 1984, approximately 4 file drawers of material had been accumulated. The Centennial Archiving Committee met on three Saturdays, December 15, 1984, January 26, 1985, and February 23, 1985. The Committee found it necessary to spend approximately 100 man hours to screen the records covering 25 years.
The East Tennessee Section is fortunate in having a yearbook which contains at least one or two paragraphs of information about the activities of each year since its founding in 1936. We also have a complete record of the charter members of the East Tennessee section, and a complete record of the elected officers from its founding to the present. The early history of the East Tennessee section, prior to 1960, is recorded in the East Tennessee Section's yearbook, the most recent edition of which covers the period from 1981-1984. The other archival records available to us contain only spotty records of committee chairmanships and events prior to 1960.

During the first 25 years of its history, the East Tennessee Section met alternately in Chattanooga and Knoxville, with the chairmanship of the East Tennessee Section alternating between individual from those two cities. By 1961, however, a consensus had grown that it was time to split the East Tennessee Section (then the AIEE) into two distinct sections. When this division occurred in 1961, the Knoxville Section retained the East Tennessee Section name and the members in Chattanooga became an independent section. The almost complete absence of archival records, including minutes of meetings, financial records, newsletters, and records of meetings prior to 1960, is probably occasioned by the fact that when the Section split in 1961, the early records of the East Tennessee Section remained with the Chattanooga Section, and not in Knoxville.

When the Centennial Archiving Committee started its work, it found a continuous and complete archival record of the East Tennessee Section's affairs from 1960 through 1984, but these records were intermixed with a large number of duplicate copies, rough drafts, routine mailings, memos from IEEE Headquarters and Region 3, and other material not worthy of archival preservation. Ultimately, the committee reduced the bulk of this material to about 20% of the original bulk by careful screening.

The material in the archives is filed under seven major headings for each year. The year used in the archives is the activity year, which is set by the bylaws of the East Tennessee Section from July 1 through June 30. Within each activity year the archival records are classified into the following seven categories:

  1. Reports - which include the results of the election for the activity year in question, a roster of elected and appointed officers, and, where available, the chairman's report summarizing the activities of the year.
  2. Financial Reports - these include local section budgets, correspondence with IEEE headquarters about financial matters, and the yearly reports required by IEEE headquarters, usually on a calendar year basis.
  3. Newsletters and Meeting Announcements - The newsletters and meeting announcements which are circulated to the membership, usually on a monthly basis, are included, along with the report of the meetings sent to the IEEE headquarters. The reports sent to headquarters usually record the number of members and guests in attendance.
  4. Minutes - The minutes of the executive or cabinet meetings of the East Tennessee Section are included, as well as minutes of any chapter active during that year. The minutes also usually include the yearly reports from the individual functional committee chairmen at the end of the year, and other records of decisions taken by the section officers.
  5. The Section Yearbook - The East Tennessee Section yearbook is included when it was published. In recent years, because of the financial burden, the East Tennessee Section has been printing its own yearbook only every third year. In earlier years, the yearbook was usually published on a yearly basis.
  6. Correspondence - The correspondence generated by the elected officers, committee chairmen, and other members working on behalf of the local section has been included. All correspondence with IEEE Headquarters and Region 3 has been preserved where it was written by a section officer, or was addressed specifically to a section officer and involved local section business. Routine memos from Region 3 or IEEE headquarters which are routinely distributed to local section officers on their mailing list were not included.
  7. Student Activities - The local section activities which relate to the cultivation of students is filed in this section. This includes not only the interactions between the IEEE East Tennessee Section and the UTK Student Branch, but also the efforts of the IEEE East Tennessee Section to encourage high school students through the Southern Appalachian Regional Science Fair and other activities.
  8. Other Activities - Other major activities like the Southeastcon, which was sponsored by the East Tennessee in 1972, are filed as separate categories in the year in which they occurred.

The Centennial Archiving Committee screened the records in two rounds. The first round of screening activity was done according to the following guidelines: discard duplicate copies, routine memos from IEEE headquarters and Region 3, receipts, checks, bills, and other non-summary financial records prior to 1978 (those after 1978 must be saved for tax purposes), directories and manuals, and guides other that those produced by the Section. The committee was also asked to save the following material: 1. Section directories, 2. financial records after 1978, 3. annual reports, 4. minutes of meetings of section officers, 5. Section newsletters and meeting announcements, 6. budget for the local section, 7. correspondence, not routine memos, 8. photographs, 9. awards information. This first round of screening reduced the bulk of the records by a factor of three.
The records were then subjected to a final round of screening and organization, for which the guidelines were as follows:

  1. Put all the papers in chronological order, with the earliest first.
  2. Check for satisfaction of the classification guidelines given above
  3. Remove staples, binding, paper clips, and other fasteners which might interfere with the micro-fiching of the records.
  4. Remove duplicates, including handwritten originals of final drafts.
  5. Make sure the index tabs are marked.
  6. Put the material in the appropriate year if it is out of chronological order, or if it belongs in some other activity.

This final round of screening reduced the bulk of the records to about 20% of the initial bulk. When the records were in file folders with index tabs for the seven categories listed above, it was then ready to be micro-fiched. The records were taken to the microfiche company, where a master microfilm was made of the records, from which the individual micro-fiched were made. The East Tennessee Section bought 13 copies of the micro-fiched records, which it is intended will be distributed to the following archival repositories:

  1. The Center for the History of Electrical Engineering at IEEE Headquarters.
  2. The Local Section Office at IEEE Headquarters.
  3. The Chairman of IEEE Region 3, for inclusion in Region 3 archival records.
  4. The University of Tennessee Library.
  5. The Library of TVA.
  6. The Library of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  7. The Chairman of the Tri-Cities section of the IEEE, which split off from the East Tennessee Section in the early 1980's and the early records of which are interspersed with the East Tennessee Section Records.
  8. The Chattanooga Section, which was part of the East Tennessee Section until 1961.
  9. The Oak Ridge Section, with which the East Tennessee Section has had many cooperative ventures over the years.
  10. Local Historical Societies.

The original hard copies of the archival records are intended to be deposited with the University of Tennessee's main library for archival record keeping. We would like to apologize in advance for any defects occasioned by this screening process, which was not done by archivists or professional historians. We did not intentionally omit any material which might be embarrassing, and I believe that we preserved all the important records which record the activities of our Section. There may be some variation in the implementation of the guidelines discussed above from one year to the next, depending upon the individual judgment of the committee member who screened that particular year; I hope any such variations will not be too significant.

Further Reading

Link to Section Homepage

IEEE Geographic Unit Organizing Document - East Tennessee