Blount County Judge Writes Book Celebrating Alcoa Centennial
Updated: May 23, 2019
By Ashley Perham
MTSU/Seigenthaler News Service
Tennessee Circuit Judge David R. Duggan of Alcoa has written a book giving a pictorial and narrative history of the city of Alcoa to celebrate its centennial in July.
Duggan, who has already published historical books on Alcoa and Maryville, said that this book will be different from the book he has already written on Alcoa, mainly in formatting aspects.
While his original book on Alcoa, published for Arcadia Publishing, had to follow a strict format with a certain number of pictures and words per chapter, Duggan takes more artistic liberty with this book.
“With this book, it's still going to be primarily a pictorial history book, but there's going to be a … very substantial written history in addition to the pictures,” Duggan said. “So much more narrative than in the first book.”
Duggan said he has spent around two years researching the book using documents and photographs from many different private and public sources.
“I've been collecting Alcoa pictures for years hoping that someday I would have the opportunity to do something like this,” Duggan said.
“Some of these were old city manager files that went back to 1919. And we don't know when the last time was anybody touched them, but it's probably been a long, long time,” he said.
Arconic, the successor to Alcoa Inc., which Alcoa is named for, also let Duggan explore their files.
Duggan’s research took him as far as Pennsylvania to get materials for the book.
“We went to Pittsburgh because the old Aluminum Company of America, … at least some of their archives are located at the Senator John Heinz Historical Center in Pittsburgh as part of the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society,” Duggan said.
Duggan also scoured 50 years of Alcoa city minutes.
“One of the things I wanted to do was read as many of the city minutes as I could. I wasn't able to get finished, and I knew I wouldn't be able to read 100 years-worth of minutes,” Duggan said. “My goal was to read 50 years-worth of minutes, and I didn't quite make it.”
However, he did read all the minutes from 1919 to 1955.
“There were some things I wanted to look at as we were beginning school integration, and so I stopped after 1955 and jumped ahead and reviewed minutes from 1963-65,” he said.
The book has nine chapters, starting with what led the ALCOA company to come to East Tennessee and finishing with the latest 25 years of the city.
Duggan said the book will include “Did You Know” sections in each chapter, color pictures for the last four chapters of the book, and personal reminiscences from Alcoa citizens.
“We also thought it would be nice to include some personal reminiscences that had been written by other people through the years, some of them going back several years,” Duggan said.
Along with the book, Duggan has written a script for a documentary about Alcoa’s history that uses historical pictures and interviews.
Duggan said that while he wrote the script, the documentary was really the idea of Darryl Reed, who is on the Centennial Planning Committee.
Reed made a 100-page timeline of Alcoa historical events that Duggan used as the basis for his script.
“It's really his creation, his idea, and it's all based on the research that he did,” Duggan said.
Duggan said the book was something that he wanted to do, but the city of Alcoa approved it and are responsible for publishing it.
Patricia Tipton, public information officer for the city of Alcoa, said the city felt like there was not a real written history.
“We're just really happy to be able to do that and to present it, because it's not really anything that's been done other than that Arcadia book,” she said.
The book is supposed to be shipped from the publisher around June 10. Books will be available at the Alcoa Municipal Building as well as at special events for the centennial celebration.
Duggan said the documentary will premiere on June 20.
The city will also be offering other souvenirs for the celebration including prints of Alcoa landmarks.
“I think the community will be proud of it. I think they will enjoy it, and I think they will learn from the book and the DVD because I know I learned a lot of things I didn't know about Alcoa by doing this research,” Duggan said.
Ashley Perhamis a journalism student at Middle Tennessee State University. She is in Blount County as part of a feature writing class call the Road Trip Class.