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, creening, and organization of past East Tennessee Section records for microfilching 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 inversted 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 authroized the transfer of $650 of Region 3 "needy section funds" to the East Tennesse 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 Tennesee section.

The procedure follweod 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 wirth 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 Comittee 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 hisotry 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 individula 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 occured 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 recrods of the East Tennessee Section remained with the Chattanooga Section, and not in Knoxville.

Further Reading

Link to Section Homepage

IEEE Geographic Unit Organizing Document - East Tennessee