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Oklahoma Getting Historical With It

February 25, 2004

Almanac Transcript

Oklahoma getting historical with it this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

For most people conducting research on any aspect of Oklahoma history, at least one visit to the Oklahoma Historical Society will be in order. Historians of the state both professional and amateur alike know that the Historical Society is treasure filled warehouse of interesting artifacts, newspapers, documents and photographs. The history of the Historical Society began with the 1893 land openings. The Kingfisher Courthouse housed the first incarnation of the society and later as various different historical societies merged, the still infantile collection moved to Norman and then to the third floor of the Carnegie Library in Oklahoma City. This building was the first fireproof facility for the society and where it remained for sixteen years. Struggling under the size of the growing collections the society left the library for temporary space in the newly completed Capital Building.

It was in this week of 1929 that approval was granted and a committee formed to begin the process of building a permanent, adequate home for the Oklahoma Historical Society. Consisting of seven well-respected society members, this committee met for the first time this week to begin planning the new structure. Field trips to other historical societies provided some inspiration, as did research into various architectural styles and materials. The laying of the cornerstone occurred just 11 months after the committee first met, and less than two years after beginning the new building was open for business. It was stated at the time that if the original members of the 1893 historical society could be here they wouldn't believe their eyes, so far advanced was the new structure. The same, however, could be said today, as the once new historical society building, so perfect and replete with every modern convenience now sits frail and elderly, stuffed to overflowing with materials.

As we celebrate this week, the 1929 beginning of the first official Oklahoma Historical Society building, it's also time to look forward to the 2005 opening of the new facilities for the society. Once again, this new building is modern in every way with all of the necessary conveniences. If only the committee members of 1929 could see us now.

The Oklahoma Historical Society itself making history this week on the Almanac.

I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of Oklahoma's Public Radio and the Oklahoma State University library.

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