National Archives at Atlanta

National Archives at Atlanta

Smith Family Moving

Hugh Smith Family Moving

February 4, 1939

The Tennessee Valley Authority's efforts to bring electrification to the rural Tennessee Valley region resulted in the displacement of many people, both living and dead. As dam construction flooded inhabited areas, burial plots had to be exhumed and relocated to new cemeteries. Through proceedings in U.S. District Courts TVA declared eminent domain and condemned populated land, forcing families to move from their homes, sometimes the only place they had ever known. This prompted a range of emotions from the land owners, from happiness to anger to confusion. Put into numbers, the impact of displacement is evident: over 69,000 individual burial plots were either removed or left in place and roughly 20,000 families relocated to new homes.