Interview with J. Bennett Graham, August 14, 2018

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:05 - Being hired at TVA

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--the following is an oral history interview conducted as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Association Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Graham explains how he was hired at the TVA as an archaeologist.

Keywords: Dissertations; Environmental laws; Funding; Influence; Interviews; Job offers; PhD; Phone calls; Projects; Recommended; Requirements; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); University; Water Planning Control

Subjects: Archaeologists; Archaeology; Education; Fathers; Knoxville (Tenn.); Teaching; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; University of Missouri

00:03:09 - Background in archaeology

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Partial Transcript: You said that--uh--you grew up with Tennessee Valley archaeology, could you explain?

Segment Synopsis: Graham discusses his background in archaeology, which originates in his childhood and experiences at archaeological sites as a teenager and young adult.

Keywords: Amateur archaeology; Courses; Laboratories; Master's degrees; Museums; Phone calls; Rock shelters; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Adolescence; Alabama; Alabama Power Company; Anthropology; Archaeological sites; Archaeological surveys; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Assistant professor; Chattanooga (Tenn.); Childhood; Costa Rica; Early life; Fathers; Fort Loudoun State Historic Area (Tenn.); Illinois; National geographic; Ohio; Professors; Russell Cave National Monument (Ala.); Summers; Teaching; Tennessee; Tennessee Archaeological Society; Tennessee Valley Authority; Time; Undergraduates; University of Alabama; University of Missouri; University of Tennessee; Wright State University

00:06:05 - Career overview

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Partial Transcript: Could you--uh--just give me a thumbnail sketch to begin with of your entire career at TVA?

Segment Synopsis: Graham provides an overview of his career at TVA, which was primarily in archaeological work.

Keywords: Archaeological Resources Protection Act; Archaeological aides; Archaeology and Utility Relocation Division; Contracted work; Cost-effective; Federal agencies; Federal permits; Funding; Hired; Manager of Cultural Resources; Maps and Surveys Branch; Moving; Projects; Senior Archaeologist; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Universities; Water Control Planning

Subjects: Archaeological surveys; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Careers; Chattanooga (Tenn.); Contracts; Engineers; History; Management; Money; Norris (Tenn.); Professor; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; University of Tennessee

00:10:43 - First assignment at TVA / TVA and archaeology

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's go back to--uh--1974--

Segment Synopsis: Graham details his first archaeological assignment at TVA. Graham explains why the TVA was involved with archaeology.

Keywords: Agreed; Altered terrain; Archaeological Resources Protection Act; Benefits; Comptroller; Deal; Fair; Federally audited overhead rate; Field work; Lab work; Projects; Refused; Substations; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Transmission lines; Universities

Subjects: Archaeological sites; Archaeological surveys; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Contracts; Employees; Money; Overhead costs; Students; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Travel; University of Alabama; University of Mississippi; University of Tennessee; University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Vanderbilt University

00:14:40 - Tellico archaeological sites

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Partial Transcript: Okay, I interrupted you but you were about to talk about Tellico.

Segment Synopsis: Graham articulates his role in excavating artifacts from the Tellico Dam site. The challenges of this archaeological dig are examined. The reaction of the Cherokee Nation to this development (as many of the recovered artifacts pertained to the Cherokee Nation) is considered.

Keywords: After; Amateur archaeologists; Archaic; Arguments; Artifacts; Attorneys; Available; Before; Bright; Burial grounds; Burials; Calm; Cherokee sites; Colleagues; Dam construction; Frustrated; Important; Inundated land; Land surveys; Land-surveyed; Mixed feelings; Occupied; Overhill; Plethora; Problems; Re-interred; Representative samples; Research potential; Researchers; Returned; Sequoyah Birthplace Museum; Situation; Survey boundary; Techniques; Tellico project; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tension; Universities

Subjects: Archaeological sites; Archaeological surveys; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Bones; Charleston (S.C.); Cherokee; Cherokee Nation; Data; Fort Loudoun State Historic Area (Tenn.); Knoxville (Tenn.); Little Tennessee River (Ga.-Tenn.); Meeting; Native Americans; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee Archaeological Society; Tennessee Valley Authority; Testing; Tribes

00:21:02 - Cherokee Nation and Tellico

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Partial Transcript: When the field work for Tellico was being conducted were the Cherokee--was the Cherokee Nation involved, somehow?

Segment Synopsis: Graham illustrates the relationship between the TVA and the Cherokee Nation. An effort of the Cherokee Nation to recover Cherokee remains from the Tellico Dam site a few years after the excavation is recalled.

Keywords: Arguing; Artifacts; Box; Burial grounds; Different; Frustrated; Individuals; No ceremony; Reasonable; Remains; Returned; Sequoyah Birthplace Museum; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tribal councils; Unaware; Uninvolved

Subjects: Archaeologists; Archaeology; Bones; Cherokee (N.C.); Cherokee Nation; Meeting; Native Americans; Skeletons; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Tribes; University of Tennessee

00:23:53 - TVA work in archaeology overview

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Partial Transcript: You--uh--were, say--did field work and you had these finds, and you were making arrangements...

Segment Synopsis: Graham discusses how his team contracted out work and acquisition of artifacts to universities (with the option for Native American tribes to request for the rights to artifacts). Graham also provides an overview of TVA activity in archaeology during the 1930s and the significance of this early work for the field of archaeology.

Keywords: Burials; Cared; Complete; Environment; Great Depression; Impact; Inundation; Mitigation; Paid; Proposals; Remains; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Universities

Subjects: Analysis; Archaeological surveys; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Cherokee Nation; Chronology; Contracts; Depressions--1929; Excavations (Archaeology); Good; History; Native Americans; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Work

00:26:30 - Archaeological finds / Story of the Maps and Surveys Branch

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Partial Transcript: Would you always find some archaeological artifacts at just about any site that you worked on, or would--

Segment Synopsis: Graham considers how often he would encounter a significant archaeological find on a TVA dig. Graham recalls a story one of his colleagues told on land buying during the Great Depression.

Keywords: Archaeology and Utility Relocation Division; Buying land; Colleague; Eager; Great Depression; Hot; Important; Instruments; Larger; Mapping; Maps and Surveys Branch; Nice; Property; Raincoat; Riverside; Substations; TVA; Thrilled; Variety; Waiting

Subjects: Archaeological sites; Archaeological surveys; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Boots; Compliance; Depressions--1929; Farmers; Guntersville Reservoir (Ala. and Tenn.); Landowners; Mosquitoes; Mules; People; Plowing; Summer; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Walking

00:31:02 - Bevan Brown

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Partial Transcript: And Bevan Brown, who was his assistant.

Segment Synopsis: Graham briefly talks of the influence and help of Bevan Brown in his career development.

Keywords: Abrupt; Appreciative; Bevan Brown; Considerate; Different; Efforts; Move; Offices; Phone calls; Published; Questions; Reports; Supportive; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Thankful; Universities; Wonderful

Subjects: Archaeologists; Archaeology; Chattanooga (Tenn.); Contracts; Energy; Germain; Knoxville (Tenn.); Management; Norris (Tenn.); Office politics; Reading; Tennessee Valley Authority; Time

00:33:39 - Work in Norris, Tennessee

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Partial Transcript: You accepted--uh--an offer or challenge to go to Norris.

Segment Synopsis: Graham characterizes his archaeological work in Norris, Tennessee. Graham compares his work environment in Chattanooga to that in Norris. An issue with looting of artifacts on TVA land is discussed.

Keywords: Adequate; Amateur archaeologists; Approved; Artifacts; Boats; Bowls; Cheap; Continue; Contracted work; Different environment; Environmental movement; Expansion; Federal property; Field work; Idea; Illegal; Kate Jackson; Looting; Mines; National problems; Not asked; Offices; Patrol; Phone calls; Point of origin; Projects; Proposals; Public Safety Officer; Purpose; Rejected; Reluctant; Repeated; Resource management programs; Ronald Reagan; Same work; Shorelines; Surface collecting; Systematic; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Transmission lines; Unabated; Unofficial activity; Widespread; Works of art; Wrong

Subjects: Archaeological sites; Archaeological surveys; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Casper (Wy.); Change; Chattanooga (Tenn.); Contracts; Federal government; Friend; Hotspots; Management; Materials; Norris (Tenn.); Prosecution; Public lands; Responsibility; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Travel; Uranium; Work

00:41:11 - Importance of TVA archaeological work

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Partial Transcript: The--um--I wanted to--uh--I--I remembered while you were talking that I think--uh--the first time I ever talked with you...

Segment Synopsis: Graham explains the significance of TVA's early work in archaeology and the legacy and reputation it holds for the archaeological community.

Keywords: Archaeological research; Archaeological significance; Artifacts; Biased; Catlinite artifacts; Conch shells; Excavation; Extensive; Great Depression; Gulf Coast; Highly significant; Historical significance; Northeastern United States; Obsidian artifacts; Pipes; Pre-European occupation; Reports; Resources; River transportation; TVA property; Tellico project; Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Trade; Well-known; Worldwide

Subjects: Analysis; Anthropology; Archaeological sites; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Catlinite; Data; Depressions--1929; Effigy pottery; Florida; History; Materials; Native Americans; Pioneers; Proud; Research; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:46:40 - Memories of TVA/Favorite part of work

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Partial Transcript: What were your--some of your favorite memories of--uh--working for TVA...

Segment Synopsis: Graham shares his most vivid memories of working at the TVA. Graham reveals his favorite aspects of working for the TVA.

Keywords: Appreciative; Budget cuts; Confident; Continued; Different; Digs; Enjoyed; Extensive; Gratifying; Hands-on experience; Mitigation; Neat; Plethora; Projects; Stayed away; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Unsure

Subjects: Archaeological sites; Archaeological surveys; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Cooperation; Good; Little Tennessee River (Ga.-Tenn.); Memories; Opportunity; Participation; Retirement; Students; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Travel

00:51:18 - Office politics/Final thoughts

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--you became--uh--I think--uh--what, after 2002, you had a new position.

Segment Synopsis: Graham considers the dynamics of office politics in the TVA throughout his career. Graham briefly gives his final thoughts on being a TVA employee.

Keywords: Adjustment; Angry; Apology; Appreciated; Approach; Arguments; Branch Chief; Desks; Enjoyed; First jobs; Fortunate; Helped; Independent; Intimidating; Job offers; Manager of Cultural Resources program; New managers; Replacements; Resentment; Similar; Support; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Vocal

Subjects: Archaeologists; Archaeology; Change; Chattanooga (Tenn.); History; Karate; Knoxville (Tenn.); Management; Managers; Norris (Tenn.); Office politics; People; Personality; Respect; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Threats