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Tennesseans Against Chemical Hazards



In March 1980, citizens from communities concerned about chemical hazards founded Tennesseans Against Chemical Hazards (TEACH) at the culmination of a workshop held at the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee. In October of that year the group was incorporated in the state of Tennessee as a non-profit organization, with its principal office in Medon, Tennessee. A coalition of citizen groups from across the state, TEACH's members had fought against illegal dumping of toxic materials and toxic contamination. It directed many of its activities toward educating communities about the hazards of toxic chemicals and nuclear waste. TEACH also lobbied at the state and federal levels for passage of legislation designed to protect communities from chemical hazards.

TEACH worked with community groups throughout the state of Tennessee. For example, TEACH helped citizens in the Hollywood and Frayser areas of North Memphis and rural Hardeman County concerned with contamination from dumping of toxic materials by Velsicol Chemical Company. Other citizen groups affiliated with TEACH included the Bumpass Cove Citizens Group of Erwin, Tennessee (illegal dumping of toxics in the Bumpass Cove landfill) and the Sullivan County Concerned Citizens of Blountville, Tennessee (air and other types of pollution in the county).

TEACH relied on grant money from foundations and funds obtained locally to support its educational and direct-action efforts. Support came from the Izaak Walton League and the JC Penney Foundation. Vanderbilt's Center for Health Services provided support through chemical analysis of water and soil samples; the Highlander Center provided expertise in research; and the Tennessee Committee on Occupational Safety and Health shared knowledge on federal and state environmental legislation.

Among the individuals active in TEACH were Nell Grantham of Hardeman County, the first chairperson of TEACH; staff persons Maura Doherty and Shirley Harkins; and members Rob and Carol Searcy of Smyrna, Tennessee. As of 1992, TEACH was known as Partnership for Democracy.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Tennesseans Against Chemical Hazards (TEACH) Records

Identifier: AppMs-0407
Scope and Contents

The collection consists of materials which document the operation of the TEACH office, as well as the activities of the organization. Included are minutes of board meetings, grant proposals, TEACH's charter and bylaws, clippings and published reports on environmental hazards in Tennessee and other states, and articles and reports on activities of environmental groups in Tennessee and other geographical regions. The records date from 1973 through 1983.

Dates: 1974-1983