Beginning the Inventory of the Y-12 PastPerfect Artifact Collection
Oak Ridge Reservation, Tennessee
The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12), located near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, was constructed as part of the Manhattan Project to enrich uranium for the first atomic bombs.Today, it maintains a presence as an active research facility and center for public education.The proposed demolition of historic buildings determined to be excess to mission requirements and the establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park presented theY-12 Complex with an immediate need for a concentrated effort to update, inventory, organize, accession, and catalogue artifacts associated with the Manhattan Project. Due to a lack of funding, hiring additional
Displays within the Y-12 History Center (DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration)
which also gave those students valuable work experience in various fields of study. Between 2017 and 2020,Y-12 utilized an ongoing partnership with the University of Tennessee to create an internship program.
The program was designed to foster relationships with college students to assist in cataloguing historic artifacts and archives in the PastPerfect Artifact Collections database. Its goal was to work with students majoring in history and/or library science to use their knowledge and experience to initiate the process of inventorying Y-12 historic artifacts and archives. Initially the college students were paid summer interns, but the process evolved into hiring students during the school year as nonpaid employees for college credits. Early participants in the internship program created desktop aides, numbering systems, procedural handbooks, and helped to streamline the process of cataloguing artifacts to benefit future interns.
Homescreen of the PastPerfect Artifact Collections database (DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration)
Although only a fraction of the thousands of Y-12 artifacts have been inventoried, a process was developed to assist ongoing artifact management. The university partnership is currently halted due to competing mission priorities and the pandemic. Hopefully, in the future, this partnership will continue to allow for more artifacts to be inventoried.
personnel or hiring a subcontractor to support conducting an updated artifact inventory was not an option. Committed to thinking outside the box to investigate ways to complete an updated inventory within current constraints, theY-12 Complex administration sought a partnership with an institution of higher learning to employ student interns to help complete the task,
IN A SPIRIT OF STEWARDSHIP: A REPORT ON FEDERAL HISTORIC PROPERTY MANAGEMENT 2021 | 57
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