Anderson County’s historian will discuss the land and people before Oak Ridge during a Thursday evening meeting.
Mary S. Harris is Anderson County historian and records custodian, a press release said.
She will be the featured speaker at the monthly public meeting of the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association. It is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at the Midtown Community Center’s Wildcat Den.
The city that is now Oak Ridge was picked for the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal project to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II, more than 75 years ago, on September 19, 1942. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized the Manhattan Project on December 28, 1942, and by then, work on the site where the first production facilities would be built here was already under way.
Oak Ridge became the home of two uranium enrichment plants (K-25 and Y-12), a liquid thermal diffusion plant (S-50), and a pilot plutonium production reactor (X-10 Graphite Reactor). (The K-25 site is now known as Heritage Center or East Tennessee Technology Park, X-10 is now known as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Y-12 is now the Y-12 National Security Complex.)
The city, which eventually grew to a population of about 75,000 people, displaced some existing communities and farmland. The wartime location was known as “Site X” and later changed to the Clinton Engineer Works, named after the nearest town. After the war, the name was again changed officially to Oak Ridge.
The press release said Harris, the featured speaker on Thursday, worked in the Clerk and Master’s Office of the Anderson County Chancery Court in 1961. She was appointed and sworn in as deputy clerk and master by J. E. Lawson on April 6, 1967. She continued at that job until 1974, when she left to work full-time in her husband’s business, until she retired in 1988, the release said.
Not satisfied with retirement, she returned to volunteer her time working three days a week cleaning and sorting old records in the courthouse vault.
Harris was appointed county historian by the Anderson County Board of Commissioners on December 18, 1989, the press release said.
Finally, on April 6, 1993, at the insistence of County Executive Dave Bowling, she agreed to a full-time position as records custodian.
For the next few years, she attended the annual Archive Summit Conferences held in Nashville and other parts of the state, conducted by the Tennessee Department of State and the University of Tennessee. For her efforts, she received certificates for processing county records, archives management and design, and reference and public service of the Tennessee Archives Institute, the press release said.
These certificates, which were issued jointly by the Tennessee Department of State and the University of Tennessee, qualified her for a final certificate issued by the Department of State, which recognizes her as a certified archives manager.
As of today, she is still at work as Anderson County historian and records custodian, the press release said.
The Midtown Community Center is at 102 Robertsville Road in central Oak Ridge.
The Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association is a nonprofit historical society founded in 1999 to preserve and educate the public about Oak Ridge’s unique and rich technical and cultural history, and to work to preserve selected historical buildings of the World War II city and nuclear installations.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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