Oklahoma State University
Spotlighting Oklahoma Oral History Project

Oral History Projects under Spotlighting Oklahoma


Remembering Angie Debo

Acclaimed historian and scholar Angie Debo was a pioneer in her field. Having persevered through much difficulty throughout her long career, her research on Native American and Oklahoma history as well as her enduring spirit and strong will led her to become known as Oklahoma’s greatest historian. Debo published thirteen books, her last when she was eighty-five, as well as hundreds of articles. This project contains oral history interviews with people who knew her professionally, personally, and often both. They recount not only her strong academic ambitions but also her quest for equality for all. View Interviews

Remembering Henry Bellmon

This project seeks to complete the story of beloved Oklahoman Henry Bellmon through the voices of people who worked with him and for him during his political career. In the fall of 1962 Bellmon was elected Oklahoma’s first republican governor. After serving one term, which was the state law at the time, he ran for and won a seat in the US Senate.  Bellmon would go on to serve twelve years as a U.S. Senator and then returned to Oklahoma for a second term as governor. Along the way, Bellmon staff members and supporters experienced life with him and share their memories through this oral history project. View Interviews

Oklahoma Native Artists

The Oklahoma Native Artists project documents the stories of Oklahoma Indian artists, working in the field since 1970s. Interviewees include painters, sculptors, multi-media artists, photographers, and potters.  All of the artists covered by the project either live in Oklahoma, were born in Oklahoma, or have Oklahoma tribal ties.  Interviews topics vary with each artist, but most include the artists’ early exposure to art; their training at Indian art schools or institutions of higher education; their experiences with various Oklahoma galleries, museums and competitive shows; the impact of the 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act; their creative practices, and examples of their work. A small group of interviews with gallery owners and collectors are also included in the collection, demonstrating how Oklahoma Indian art has been shaped by a complex interplay of among institutions, the market, the artists and the public.  View Interviews

Cooperative Extension Educators

Oklahoma State University is one of two land-grant universities established in Oklahoma to educate citizens in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts, and other practical professions. Cooperative Extension Service was formalized in 1914, with the Smith-Lever Act that established the “cooperative” partnership between the agricultural colleges, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and county commissions to provide for cooperative agricultural extension work. This act lead to the establishment of Extension offices in each county with the aim of ‘extending’ across the state information developed on campus and research stations. Cooperative Extension has often been referred to as “the people’s university.” Agriculture has been and continues to be of great importance to Oklahoma. Extension employees have played vital roles in the communities they served across Oklahoma and gathering the stories of their experiences contributes to Oklahoma’s agriculture historical record. This oral history project includes interviews with various retired agents/educators as well as a few community members with strong connections to the program. View Interviews

Life in the 1930s

While not all of Oklahoma experienced the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, tough economic times were apparent during this period. A goal of the Life in the 1930s project is to gather memories of Oklahomans who lived through the 1930s to document a broader view of the times. The narrators describe life on the farm and in town, tell of WPA or CCC projects in the area, and talk of dust, war, and minimal resources. Many note that even though they were poor, everyone else was poor, too. View Interviews

Muskogee African American Heritage

At one time Muskogee was the third largest city in Oklahoma and was the home of a thriving African American
community. Back ‘in the day’ the community had many business owners, dance halls and a theatre,
neighborhood elementary schools and Manual Training High School. Changes began to occur in the late
1960s and when the schools were integrated in the early 1970s. This oral history project seeks to document
what current members of the African American community recall of Muskogee prior to integration along with
their perceptions of Muskogee today. View Interviews

Anthrax in Oklahoma

Beginning in mid-July 1957, an anthrax epidemic struck livestock herds and other farm animals in northeastern Oklahoma. It started around Welch but ultimately spread to seven counties in Oklahoma and even into Kansas, leaving over 1,000 animals dead. Luckily, there was only one human case, which presented as a skin infection. At the time, it was the largest anthrax outbreak in the United States in over twenty-five years, with more than 830 square miles quarantined. The scientists and veterinarians who were at the forefront of identifying, diagnosing, and then stopping the disease were largely from Oklahoma State University, with many of them recent graduates from the school's veterinary medicine program. They were the ones out on the front lines as the quarantine areas were drawn, taking samples and vaccinating more than 200,000 animals (including one monkey) in a successful effort to defeat the epidemic. View Interviews

Germans from Russia

A large contingent of German farmers that migrated to Russia in the 1700s due to open immigration and incentives from Catherine the Great moved to the United States in the late 1800s when Alexander II repealed this policy. Many then migrated to Oklahoma where they established communities and continued farming. Descendents of this population tell about growing up speaking German, helping their families farm, and carrying on various traditions. View Interviews

Germans in Oklahoma

Whether they first came to the United States as a Prisoner of War during World War II and returned due to their positive experience, married an American serviceman, or were just attracted to the wide open spaces Oklahoma has to offer, these Germans now call Oklahoma home. They tell of their experiences growing up in Germany, their decision to move, and how they came to be Oklahomans. View Interviews

Southwest Oklahoma

Home of the Great Western Cattle Trail, Doan’s Crossing, the Red River, and expansive fields of cotton, tales from days gone by in Southwestern Oklahoma have a flavor all their own. Narrators tell of thriving communities that have fizzled out, country schools, and chopping cotton. They tell of disaster and destruction, pride and glory, but most of all speak to the pioneer spirit that still endures in this part of the state. View Interviews

Oklahoma - Misc. Topics

Interviews in this category fall under the Spotlighting Oklahoma oral history project, but under no specific focus area. View Interviews