Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, June 23, 2023

Chattanooga’s labor history added to UTC Library digital collections

Wheland Foundry and United States Pipe and Foundry employees, circa 1950. - Photo courtesy of the Chattanooga Public Library and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library’s Special Collections department has published two digital collections of photographs and documents detailing the labor and manufacturing history of Chattanooga.

Made possible by a $3,630 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission distributed by the Tennessee Historical Records Advisory Board, the two digitized collections – which are available to researchers and the public – are housed on the Special Collections website (www.utc.edu/library/special-collections).

The Wheland Foundry and United States Pipe and Foundry digital photographs collection contains 189 items.

The Dixie Mercerizing Company digital photographs collection contains 26 items.

Wheland Foundry closed in 2002, followed four years later by U.S. Pipe and Foundry’s Chattanooga property. Dixie Mercerizing Company is now known as The Dixie Group.

Dates for the images in both collections range from 1875 to 1976, with the bulk falling around the 1950s. Images are primarily photographs, along with three booklets, the draft of a booklet, a 1930 newsletter for employees living in the Dixie Mercerizing Company’s mill village (Lupton City) and a 1928 reference letter for a former Dixie Mercerizing employee.

The items came to the Special Collections repository from the Chattanooga History Center, which folded in 2017. The CHC collections are now co-owned by UTC Special Collections and the Chattanooga Public Library.

UTC Director of Special Collections Carolyn Runyon, Processing Archivist Erin Ryan and student assistant Jane Dodge collaborated on the project.

Dodge, a rising senior majoring in English and a Brock Scholar in the UTC Honors College, spent 242 hours on the endeavor.

“Jane scanned the physical photographs and other materials and composed metadata for them, noting the titles, descriptions, dates, creators and other elements of each item according to a standardized schema called Dublin Core and based on other uniform standards and vocabularies,” Ryan says.

While there are 215 items in the two collections, 551 images were digitized.

“Many of the items are compound objects, such as booklets with multiple pages – each page of which was scanned separately – or a photograph with writing on the back,” Ryan explained.

“We’re delighted to be able to make these resources available to researchers.”