This website chronicles the model town of Norris in Tennessee. Norris came at a moment when urban form in the U.S. was undergoing a massive change. It was a new take on Company towns but in its location (i.e. just outside of Knoxville) it was also a rural community. Historically, it stood at the cusp of suburbia. It was also wholly built and maintained by the TVA until they decided to sell the property. Houses were constructed in Norris according to typologies that had been created by the planners. The hierarchical typologies were decided based on the area of the house, the socio-economic demographic it aimed to cater to. Norris stood as a town in the deep emphasis on the use of electricity in the houses instead of wood fired utilities. It marked a massive shift in the ways in which towns were laid out and operated. It was seen as a harbinger of modernity.   All in all, Norris was an interesting moment in time and space.

Using archival information in the form of site plans, drawings of houses – plans, elevations and sections, press releases and other material generated by the TVA, in addition to other pieces, this site offers a space for readers/viewers to understand Norris better. It uses materials from the Earle Draper papers, housed at Cornell University, in addition to material from the National Archives at Atlanta.  The website is laid out in a (hopefully) accessible manner; materials meant for readers are housed as single-PDFs on the website (sometimes they are multiple page PDFs), with each page also housing a short reflective essay on the kind of material on the page. There are also photographs published by the Farm Security Administration, which are available through the Library of Congress website. In addition, there is a (growing) list of other sources that the website points readers to.

Ramya Swayamprakash

2016-2017 CHI Grad Fellow Cohort

PhD Student, Department of History