The McGuire Dolls

March 9th, 2010

2009024006.jpgby Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

All is not as it seems at first glance. We received a collection of dolls in 2009 and I made the assumption that they were just dolls. Much to my surprise, I discovered that we had received a very unique and special doll collection.

Leota McGuire was born and raised in Okmulgee. She attended the University of Oklahoma where she received degrees in Home Economics and Fashion Arts. After graduation, she operated a dance studio as well as being a dress designer and artist.

With the poverty and hardships that were inflicted on the citizens of Okmulgee followed by the shortages and rationing of World War II, Leota McGuire decided to give back to the community.  After looking at dolls for sale at the Montgomery Ward Department Store, she realized that she could make them herself.

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She dyed muslin fabric to be used in creating the doll bodies and she developed a secret recipe to create the head. Using a mold for the doll head, she poured her mix of materials into it. Once the materials were dry, she would sand, carve, and paint the head with each one being unique. Yarn was used to make the hair with some curly, some braided, and some cut short. Friends and family collected scraps of fabric and leather which she sewed into doll clothes.  The dolls were distributed to children of the community whose families were unable to provide them with that luxury.

Another part of the McGuire collection is a set of small handmade dolls that commemorate the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1947. The set includes the bride and groom, bridesmaids, best man, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The generosity and ingenuity of Leota McGuire were greatly appreciated by the citizens of Okmulgee and I am pleased that many of these dolls are now in the collection of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

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The Application of Jack Nelson

February 23rd, 2010

by William D. Welge, CA, Research Division Director

The following document is from the Intruders file found in the Cherokee National records. In commemoration of Black History Month, this document provides a unique experience for the man trying to remain in the Cherokee Nation. The document can be found on microcopy CHN 83 in the first folder of intruder files.

Click to view a PDF of Jack Nelson’s application.

 

Did You Know…

February 9th, 2010

by William D. Welge, Research Division Director

In 2010 the 23rd federal census will take place later this spring. In the past decade Oklahoma gained population thus it becomes important that all persons fill out the forms or take time to work with a census taker when they come to your home. Some feel that the census asks too many intrusive questions. Failure to properly fill out the census form is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine up to $5,000.00. Also, any misinformation provided on the form or to the census taker is a felony!! As most genealogists know, the census is restricted for 72 years. So the 2010 census does not become available until after April 2082. However, you can spare the lengthy wait for future family members by copying the form filled out and leave with your personal papers so that the information is can be gleaned after ones death.

Cigar Ribbon Smoking Jacket

January 20th, 2010

by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

Occasionally, we give behind the scene tours of our museum collection storage areas. The cigar ribbon smoking jacket is one of my favorite artifacts that I like to show visitors on these tours.

During the Victorian era, cigar smoking became a popular pastime for men. Many homes had a private drawing room where men would gather to smoke and visit. Men would don smoking jackets and smoking caps which absorbed the odor of the cigar smoke. During the late 1800s, cigar manufacturers bundled their products in batches of 25 or 50 cigars and tied the bundles with gold silk ribbons on which were printed the manufacturers’ names. Women who did fancy work and quilting found a purpose for these silk ribbons and created quilts, table runners, and smoking jackets from them.

The quilted smoking jacket in our collection is made from gold, yellow, and orange silk ribbons and features a shawl collar. We have several examples of the loose silk cigar ribbons in our collection as well. The vibrant colors of luxurious silk ribbons are transformed into an unusual and outstanding article of clothing, making it one of my personal favorites.

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Did You Know…

January 6th, 2010

by William D. Welge, Research Division Director

That in the manuscript section of the Research Division is a small collection of the Tenth United States Infantry that contains a compilation of orders issued from the Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant General’s Office out of Washington, D.C. dating from 1895 regarding individual soldiers being transferred from one post to another or other assignments. Many will involve troops either at Fort Sill, Indian Territory or Fort Reno, Oklahoma Territory. Each order is dated and the booklet has been indexed.

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Did You Know…

December 15th, 2009

by William D. Welge, Research Division Director

That on November 28th, 1934, the Indian Archives at the OHS opened its doors to the researching public. The first archivist, Rella Watts Looney, had processed, cataloged and indexed over one million pages of records devoted to the Five Civilized Tribes. She began her efforts in 1929. Her career spanned 45 years which during that time, an additional 2 million plus pages of records from tribal agencies with exception of the Osage, were added to the collection.

The Last Flag

December 9th, 2009

by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

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I recently had one of those “I love my job” moments. We have several United States flags in our collection that are purported to be the “last” flag flown on the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma. I was pleased to discover that we do indeed have the last one.

The U.S.S. Oklahoma (BB-37) was moored on battleship row at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. It was struck by Japanese torpedoes and quickly capsized with 429 sailors and Marines losing their lives. The ship was righted and placed in dry dock in 1943. Its superstructure and guns were removed prior to the decommission ceremony that was held on September 1, 1944.

As I unrolled the red, white, and blue wool bunting 48 star flag, I was thrilled when I saw markings on the canvas hoist edge. Stamped on the canvas was “Mare Island, February 1944.” Written in ink was “Last flag to fly on the U.S.S. Oklahoma (BB-37), September 1, 1944, S.S. Isquith U.S. Navy Commander, Commanding.” Lt. Commander Solomon S. Isquith was the engineer officer on board the U.S.S. Utah on December 7, 1941 when it was sunk at Pearl Harbor. After the Japanese attack, he was placed in charge of salvage operations at Pearl Harbor and he presided over the decommission ceremony for the U.S.S. Oklahoma in 1944. He stated, “Today the life of a ship will come to an end – as a combat vessel – after 35 years of honorable service in all areas of the world. We will be sorry to leave her.”

The last flag to fly on the U.S.S. Oklahoma was presented in 1945 to Governor Robert S. Kerr who in turn gave it over to the Oklahoma Historical Society. It remains safely in our care today.

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Researching Your Home’s History In Oklahoma County

December 1st, 2009

by Debra Spindle PhD, Research Coordinator-Librarian

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Want to know more about your house? Here are some guidelines for researching your home in Oklahoma County. Some of the resources will be helpful for you even if your home is not here in central Oklahoma. It will depend on what records are available for your county. Read the rest of this entry »

Cherokee Nation Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1885

November 24th, 2009

by William D. Welge, CA, Director of the Research Division

Dennis W. Bushyhead

Dennis Wolf Bushyhead was born in the Cherokee Nation east in 1826. The eldest son of Rev. Jessie Bushyhead he removed to the Cherokee Nation west in the early 1830s. At the age of 20, he was lured to the gold fields of California where he remained until 1868 upon which he returned to the Cherokee Nation settling at Fort Gibson.

By 1871, he entered the political realm whereby he was elected as Treasurer of the nation. In 1879, Bushyhead was elected Principal Chief and was reelected in 1883.

This proclamation was executed during his second and final term as Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

1885 Thanksgiving Proclamation

A Sad Week in Oklahoma History

November 24th, 2009

by William D. Welge, CA, Director of the Research Division

The end of November marks two tragic events in our pre-statehood era. November 29th, 1864 in southeastern Colorado, Chief Black Kettle’s band of peaceful Cheyenne’s were brutally attacked by the 1st Colorado Volunteers lead by Colonel John Chivington. Though told to fly the American flag as a sign of peace, Black Kettle’s camp was nearly all massacred by the men under Chivington’s command.

Sadly, nearly four years to the day on November 27th, 1868 another massacre took place at Washita in northwestern Oklahoma in what is Roger Mills County near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. A mix of Cheyenne’s under Black Kettle, Arapaho’s and some Kiowa’s were suddenly attacked by General George Custer in what must be considered one of the most cowardly military attacks second only to Sand Creek. This time, Peace Chief Black Kettle was killed with his family.

The members of the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Kiowa’s still mourn their loss to this day. For more information about these historical incidents please see The Sand Creek Massacre and The Battle of the Washita authored by Stan Hoig.