Oak Ridge's Center for Oak Ridge Oral History Receives History- Related Materials from Oak Ridge National Laboratory

History was recently made when the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History (COROH) received a donation of oral histories and other history-related materials from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to add to its growing collection.

COROH was established in 2009 as a partnership between the City of Oak Ridge and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and is headquartered at the Oak Ridge Public Library. A committee comprised of community volunteers, local organizations, and state and federal agencies provide advice and guidance to the City on its oral history initiative. Their goal is to seek oral histories of those who played a role in Oak Ridge and the surrounding area before, during, and following the Manhattan Project. COROH plans to make oral histories available to the public at the Oak Ridge Public Library and online.

ORNL History Room Coordinator Debbie Dickerson and volunteer members of the ORNL History Room turned over DVDs and transcripts they had gathered and prepared to Oak Ridge Public Library Director Kathy McNeilly and COROH Coordinator Anne Marie Hamilton-Brehm. “Over the years, about 300 oral histories have been recorded, and our plan is to consolidate copies of all of that material in one location,” said McNeilly. “We have about 100 interview candidates and we will soon begin new interviews with those important to our city’s history.”

The COROH initiative complements existing work by the DOE through its Networking Oak Ridge Oral History (NOROH), which enables former federal employees involved in key programs on the Oak Ridge Reservation to be interviewed and their corporate knowledge assembled to create a resource for the next generation that may otherwise be lost. Collectively, COROH and NOROH support part of agreements DOE has entered consistent with requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act and other agreements as approved by the Tennessee Historic Preservation Office and National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson acknowledged the importance of the donation. “The Manhattan Project is widely regarded as the most significant event of the 20th Century. With the possibility of Oak Ridge receiving a designation as a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, these histories will be invaluable to the National Park Service and DOE as they develop public educational and interpretive materials about Oak Ridge. We are grateful to ORNL for the donation.”

Anne Marie Hamilton-Brehm, Ph.D. joined the city staff as COROH’s coordinator in 2009 and has been working closely with stakeholders to build the COROH collection and make it available to the public.
Over the next few years, additional oral histories will be turned over to COROH for public access.

For more information about COROH or to participate in an oral history interview, contact Hamilton-Brehm at (865) 425-3455.

Picture Caption: Volunteer members of the ORNL History Room (Standing from left) Dick Raridon, David McVicker, Marilyn Reafsnyder, Debbie Dickerson, William Yee, Dr. Charles Congdon, and Steve Stow gather at the Oak Ridge Public Library to turn over history-related materials to (seated, from left) Oak Ridge Public Library Director Kathy McNeilly and COROH Coordinator Anne Marie Hamilton-Brehm.