The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Overview of Collection

Repository:  McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi

Creator: James O. Word

Collection Number:  M456

Title: Word (James O.) Collection

Dates: March – May 1963

Abstract: The collection contains the correspondence of James O. Word, Business Agent of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Hattiesburg (Local Union No. 1575) in regards to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Biographical/Historical Note

The United States Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1947 to foster (and control) the peace time development of atomic technologies after World War II but was later abolished by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974. 

In 1963, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union signed a Partial Test Ban Treaty, agreeing not to test nuclear devices in the atmosphere or underwater.  The treaty did not prohibit the testing of nuclear weapons underground, and test sites were chosen in Mississippi to detonate them underground to discover if secret underground testing could be detected by seismographs. 

“Project Dribble” was the Atomic Energy Commission effort to investigate potential test sites, and was later followed by “Project Salmon,” which involved the 1964 detonation of nuclear devices in the Tatum Salt Dome near Baxterville, Mississippi, nearly 30 miles southwest of Hattiesburg.  Workers began clearing land for the site, a 1,400 acre area leased from the Tatum Lumber and Pecan Company, as early as 1961.  Further testing continued in 1966, 1969, and 1970, though the site was decommissioned and dismantled in 1971.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains three items of correspondence to/from James O. Word regarding “Project Dribble” and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ role in constructing the Tatum Salt Dome test site.  A letter addressed to President John F. Kennedy and its response from the Atomic Energy Commission is included.

Topics Covered

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers--History.

Nuclear weapons--Testing.

United States. Atomic Energy Commission

Administrative Information

Provenance: Donated by James O. Word on November 20, 1991.

Restrictions on Use:  This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Preferred Citation Method:  Item, Title of collection, McCain Library & Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.

Processing Information:  Processed by Lauren White. 

Prepared and maintained by
The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections
118 College Drive #5148   Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148