Library Collection Recognizes Women in Government
OOHRP records histories of female legislators
March 15, 2012
Story by Emily Nielsen, OSU Library Communications Intern
For Immediate Release
STILLWATER -March is Women’s History Month, and one way to celebrate the history of women in Oklahoma is to recognize those who have served in the state legislature. The OSU Library’s Oklahoma Oral History Research Program partnered with the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women in 2006 to begin creating an oral history collection about the women in Oklahoma who have held these positions.
Today, only 81 women have served in the Oklahoma legislature. Little information about these women can be found in the documented historical record, and the Women of the Oklahoma Legislature Oral History Project is a step toward filling that gap.
Tanya Finchum, an oral history librarian who worked on the project, said, “Separately, each oral history provides an in-depth view into the professional and personal life of a woman legislator. Together, these histories preserve the story of women stepping up, winning elections and serving the citizens of Oklahoma. I considered it a privilege that they gave their valuable time for the project, and a privilege to be able to do the project.”
The collection includes more than 40 interviews with women who have served in the legislature, including individuals such as Hannah Atkins, the first African American woman to be elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and current Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin, the first woman to be elected into the state’s highest office.
Angela Monson, a participant in the project who served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1990–1993 and the Oklahoma State Senate from 1993–2005, said, “I really look forward to the day when women are proportionately represented in legislative bodies. I just think the whole outcome of the legislative process will be so different, and better. Let me quickly say, ‘Not just different, but better.’”
The Women of the Oklahoma Legislature Oral History Project can be found online at http://www.library.okstate.edu/oralhistory/wotol/. More collections about women’s history are available in the Oklahoma Women’s Archives, which can be accessed at http://www.library.okstate.edu/scua/aboutwomen.htm.
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