The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library’s Special Collections department has announced the publishing of 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—available to researchers and the public—are housed on the Special Collections website.
The Wheland Foundry and United States Pipe and Foundry photographs digital collection contains 189 items.
The Dixie Mercerizing Company photographs digital 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 and 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 (CHC), 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—who, thanks to the grant, was hired for the spring 2023 semester to scan and write metadata for the materials—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 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 said.
Ryan noted that—while there are 215 items in the two collections—551 total 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 so that we scanned both front and back,” she explained.
“We are delighted to be able to make these resources available to researchers.”
Click here for more information about Special Collections, including types of materials collected, hours and location, staff, past funded projects and digital preservation. A complete list of digital collections can be viewed here.