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Local History

Oak Ridge Room

The Oak Ridge Room at Oak Ridge Public Library was dedicated in September 1986 as part of the Library’s celebration of Tennessee’s Homecoming ’86. This unique collection was established to gather, catalog, and preserve the records and history of the “Secret City,” and to provide assistance to the public in researching Oak Ridge history. Special collections, documents, reports, and artifacts reveal what life was like in the 1940’s when Oak Ridge was a brand new town built to government wartime specifications.

In addition to historic photograph collections, the Oak Ridge Room also contains a large collection of books on the development and history of the Manhattan Project, including many biographies of some of the key scientists and military personnel. The collection also includes telephone directories from the 1940’s-2020’s, maps, floor plans, and blueprints. This digital collection highlights many of the popular, informative, and unique items at the Library. Current information about our city government and issues important to citizens today are also included.

Our Services

Local Author Spotlight

We celebrate authors and artists local to Oak Ridge and it’s surrounding areas.
Titles by these authors are highlighted in our library with their own label and are shelved across from the Main Desk. 

Local Authors

We celebrate authors and artists local to Oak Ridge and it’s surrounding areas.
Titles by these authors are highlighted in our library with their own shelf and labels. Search for other titles by local authors through our catalog.

Oak Ridge Firsts

  • August 13, 1942
  • September 19, 1942
  • November 15, 1942
  • February 2, 1943
  • February 18, 1943
  • June 2, 1943
  • May 29, 1944
  • September 6, 1955
  • Manhattan District

    Established contract with Union Carbide and Carbon for K-25.

  • Site of Oak Ridge

    General Leslie Groves selects the Oak Ridge site to build uranium processing plants. This uranium would be used in the “Little Boy Bomb” during World War II. This bomb was dropped on Japan on August 6, 1945, and was the first nuclear weapon used in warfare.

  • First Landowners Vacate

    Using the right of eminent domain, the United States government decided to force the sale of private land for wartime use and began purchasing the nearly 60,00 acres that would become Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

  • X-10 site

    Grading began on the X-10 site, later known as Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This was the world’s first operating nuclear reactor.

  • Y-12 Construction Started

    Ground was broken for the construction of the Y-12 Plant.

  • Oak Ridge Public Library Opens

    Oak Ridge Library opens fully to the public and issues its first library card.

  • Oak Ridge High School Desegregates

    Oak Ridge High School became one of the first schools in the South to desegregate.