Archive for September, 2009

Why I Love My Job: The Very Interesting Dayton Canady Collection

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

11746.jpgby Beverly Mosman, Assistant Photo Archivist

The first image to catch my eye in the Dayton Canady Collection was #11746 (left). I stared at the image intently, looking for clues as to who these people were. Why were they doing gymnastics in what appeared to be a dormitory?

I looked farther back into the collection and learned that these men were probably Oklahoma City Firemen. The Dayton Canady Collection starts with image #11707 which shows off the Fire Department’s Horse Drawn Equipment in front of the Santa Fe Depot during a parade in the early 1900’s. Even though these are interesting images, the story of the “acrobats” starts with image #11741. Men are sleeping peacefully. The uniforms do not look familiar, but the boots remind me of the “jump-in” boots I’ve seen while touring fire stations with my children. I continue searching for more clues through the next few images until I come to image #11744 which shows the men jumping into their boots and one man who is already dressed is sliding down….a fireman’s pole! So yes, these men appear to be firemen.

The acrobats start with image #11745 and by #11747 I’m wondering, “Is this training? Exercise? Practice for a charity event? My curiosity is tingling. Image #11755 shows men hanging from a wire like laundry from a clothesline. How do I label these images? After asking others in our area about the images, I describe them as best I can and hope that someone may have answers to share with us.

A few months after I had processed these images, Jan Davis from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries asked some of us if we’d ran into any interesting photos in the collections. A co-worker and I immediately thought about the acrobats and mentioned them. When Jan saw the photos, she thought they would be great for ODL ARCHIVES WEEK. So we started to search for more information.

The first information I found showed that Dayton W. Canady of Missouri had donated the collection in June of 1968. The images are identified as “Oklahoma City Fire Department”. I remembered that I have seen a Firefighters Museum in OKC. Phone calls and emails began to fly as we began to work together to track down the story. Finally, Jan received this reply:

“In 1908 Oklahoma City Fire Department (OCFD) hired a young 24 year old named John J. Lynn… John was hired because he was with a circus and in show business as a horse trainer… Since the OCFD had started using horse to pull their fire equipment they needed firefighters that had skills working with horses… John Lynn had friends in the circus that he talked into joining the OCFD… These Circus performers would practice their acrobatic techniques on top of the fire station while they were on duty…

Later, the OCFD hired the Oklahoma City University baseball team… The fire department sought out athletic people like this because firefighters have to be in great shape to fight fires for hours and hours…

Mike Billingsley, Manager
Oklahoma State Firefighters
Museum & Gift Shop
2716 N.E. 50th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73111

So, that’s “The Rest of the Story” about the IMAGES OF OKLAHOMA Archives Week poster. You may check their website www.odl.state.ok.us/archives-week to find out more or see all of the Dayton Canady images in the archives section of the OHS online catalog. Enter “Canady” as a keyword.

Laundry Blues

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

In this era of high efficiency washers and dryers with their steam features and easy care fabrics, many people no longer feel the need to iron their clothes. While I am not old enough to remember the days of washtubs, washboards, wringers, and sad irons, I do remember when my mother did the weekly ironing. After bringing the clean clothes in from the clothesline, she would sprinkle them down with water using a bottle with a tin sprinkler stopper. She then rolled the damp clothes in a towel in preparation to be ironed the next day. It would take several hours to press the shirts, dresses, sheets and pillowcases. With the introduction of permanent press fabrics in the 1960s, she put away her iron and warned the family that she would no longer press any garments. And she didn’t! After she passed away, I found a cotton dress shirt of my father’s in the bottom of the laundry hamper, still waiting to be ironed after 30 years!


In our collections, we have a clothespin bag, sprinkler bottle, electric iron, and laundry hamper. All are reminders of a time when laundry was a much more demanding task.

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Historic Maps

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

by Chad Williams, Research Division Deputy Director

Hello fellow history fanatics. My name is Chad Williams. I am the Deputy Director of the Research Division. One of our new and exciting projects is to scan the map collection held by the Oklahoma Historical Society. The collection is composed of thousands of maps from Indian Territory and Railroad maps to Town Plats and Oilfield maps. Because of the talent and dedication of our scanning guru Ashley Hendricks, we have scanned and placed online over 800 map images. The coolest part of this project is that we decided to scan the maps at a high resolution. After you allow a minute or so for your computer to open the PDF file, you are free to zoom in and out and see the incredible detail preserved in these historic maps. I guarantee you will love it.

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One of the maps (my personal favorite) we discovered while undertaking the project is the map we call “The Raymer Map.” This hand drawn map was crafted by Oklahoman Lester Raymer of Alva. In 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution, who commissioned the work, donated the map to the Oklahoma Historical Society. On the map Raymer estimated the location of many historic sites, battles, roadways, and exploration routes. Another cool thing about the map is that it was donated along with a painting by Mrs. Louise Fluke. That painting would be used to design the state flag of Oklahoma (below is the description of the two donations).

At a meeting of representatives of the Oklahoma Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the Historical Building on May 10, Mrs. Frank Gordon Munson, Alva, state historian of the D. A. R., told members about the celebration being planned to commemorate Coronado’s passing through Oklahoma. On behalf of the state society she presented to the Oklahoma Historical Society the following: A frame containing the Oklahoma state flag painted and described by Mrs. Louise F. Fluke of Ponca City; a historical map of Oklahoma drawn by Lester W. Raymer of Alva, and a frame enclosing the object, creed, pledge, and belief of the National Society of the D. A. R., prepared by Mrs. Fluke.

- The Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 17, No. 3 September, 1939

It has been a challenge and a great honor to preserve, catalog and scan these wonderful maps. But that is what we do here at the History Center (the Mother Ship of Oklahoma History).

Click here for order info. You can also come to the History Center and purchase the map and save the shipping charge. Just walk into the History Center off 23rd and Lincoln Blvd. and ask to see the Research Center.