The Tornado Recovery Project at Tennessee Tech: A Case Study in Community Disaster Assistance by an Academic Archives


  • Megan Atkinson Tennessee Technological University


This article is a case study about what Tennessee Technological University Archives and Special Collections (Tech Archives) implemented as a disaster recovery effort for its local community following a devastating tornado. It is typical for library and archives disaster preparedness and disaster recovery efforts to include professionals in assisting their place of employment or a neighboring cultural institution or, sometimes, aiding the public directly after a natural disaster. In the case of the tornado that hit Putnam County, Tennessee in May of 2020, no cultural institutions sustained damage, so this placed Tech Archives in a position to provide direct, professional assistance to the public and local community. This initiative included creating a single, online location to serve as a virtual lost and found to assist survivors and victims in their search for lost family archival materials — mostly photographs, but also personal documents and ephemera.