Cherokee Certificates

July 7th, 2009

by William D. Welge, Research Division Director

Bill Welge here. One of the disconcerting aspects of looking for Indian ancestors is the lack of census data. The Cherokees began compiling decennial census records beginning in 1880, but prior to that time, census taking was very sporadic.

One way to hopefully locate family members is to search through records other than census materials. As an example, among the court records of the Cherokee Nation there is a list of individuals who were issued certificates for payment for services rendered for the quarter ending December 31st, 1875.* Some 41 men are listed and why they are being paid.

This is just one way to locate family when census records are not available.

* Cherokee National records – Courts document # 532. See microcopy CHN-70.


Cherokee National Orphan Asylum

June 30th, 2009

by William D. Welge, Research Division Director

Bill Welge here with a bit of important genealogical information for those looking for Cherokee ancestors. On microfilm roll CHN – 66 will be several folders regarding the Cherokee National Orphan Asylum. Occasionally the files will include the names of those individuals who are residents at the home. For instance there is a list of 48 females with their names, age, some with date of birth, what district in the Cherokee Nation they were born, their guardian and the guardian’s Post Office address. This is of particular importance because it is in between the Cherokee 1890 census and the United States census of 1900. The youngest resident is 9 years old and the oldest is 19 years old.

More to come……

Ambrotype Images: 1855-1861

June 23rd, 2009

by Beverly Mosman, Assistant Photo Archivist

6510 – Ambrotype: Richard Vaill, son of Reverend William F. Vaill. 1862-1936. Dr. Joseph Thoburn Collection

Research by photographers after 1851 led to the development of the Ambrotype in 1854. The Ambrotype used a colloidal emulsion which after processing held the image on glass. A layer of black paint was applied to the back of the glass plate to allow reflected light to display it as a positive image. Usually a brass cover mat and a protective glass plate were placed over the Ambrotype before being sandwiched together inside a protective case the same type and size as the daguerreotype.

The Ambrotype quickly became popular with photographers since the process was easier to prepare and cheaper than the daguerreotype. Production peaked between 1856 and 1857 due to the post production expense of the protective case and the fragility of the image.


23268.CP.A.2 Cherokee Indian Robert Wallace. c. 1858.

Many Ambrotypes are discarded when the black paint on the back side of the glass plate begins to flake. This problem is easily remedied by placing black mat beneath the Ambrotype, emulsion side up. The oval shaped damage in image #23268.CP.A.2 usually occurs when the brass cover mat slides across the emulsion surface on the glass image.

Few examples of Ambrotypes have been found dated after 1864.

The above information was originally gathered by Chester Cowen, Photographic Archivist, Oklahoma Historical Society, from the following references:

Felduebel, Thomas, THE AMBROTYPE OLD & NEW, Graphic Arts Research Center, Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, 1980, VIII, 51 pages.

Welling, William, PHOTOGRAPHY IN AMERICA: THE FORMATIVE YEARS 1839-1900, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM, 1978, X!, (3), 431 pages.

What We Lack

June 9th, 2009


by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

The purpose of Found in Collections is to share information about interesting items that are in our collections. I am going to stray from that purpose to discuss items that we lack. As we developed our most recent exhibit “Another Hot Oklahoma Night, A Rock and Roll Exhibit,” it became very apparent that we lacked numerous items of clothing in our textile collection. While we have many examples of men’s tuxedos and formal wear, we have relatively few examples of everyday men’s clothing. I had to search diligently to track down blue jeans, cardigan sweaters, sport shirts, penny loafers, and sneakers to add to our collection and be used in the exhibit.

Society has adopted a more casual attitude towards saving and preserving clothing especially men’s clothing. As the curator of the textile collection, I realize the need for us to begin a concerted effort to add to our collection of both men’s and women’s clothing with a focus on clothing from the 1950s to the present. I would like to use this forum to make a plea to the public to consider donating vintage clothing items to the Oklahoma Historical Society. So, clean out your closets and bring us your platform shoes, your tie dye shirts, your go-go boots, your disco shirt, and any other clothes that are in good condition.


Hillerman Map Project

May 26th, 2009

21412m2103baumbuild.jpgby Rachel Mosman, Assistant Photo Archivist

When I first came to the Oklahoma Historical Society to manage the Barney Hillerman photographic collection, I knew very little about historic Oklahoma City. The collection is made up of an estimated 750,000 images, mostly triacetate negatives, but also 35 mm film, nitrate negatives and prints. Many of the images are related to business in the area between the 1920s and 1960s, and include images of buildings in downtown Oklahoma City. As I processed the collection, the images coalesced in my mind to create a popular and thriving city. But the skyline of the 1930s wasn’t the same skyline I was familiar with.

Learning about Urban Renewal was emotional, as it explained what happened to the historic city that I’d grown to love. Because the old city became so alive to me through these images, I felt it was important to create a project to share my experience with others. Using Sanborn fire maps, Polk directories, and other resources, I was able to create a visual orientation for the viewer. The bibliography identifies resources that are highly recommendable for those who want to learn more about Urban Renewal and historic Oklahoma City.

Now when I walk through downtown Oklahoma City, I see the city less for what’s missing, and instead as an (architectural? Structural?) palimpsest. I recognize the old city synthesized into the new, and appreciate the efforts that our people have put into preserving and enhancing downtown.

Thanks to Bob Blackburn, Linda Schwan, and Bill Welge for helping produce this project. I especially thank Jennifer Towry for designing and coordinating the online product. I hope that it will bring the city to life for you, as it’s done for us.

Click to visit the Hillerman Map Project.

The Hillerman Collection includes other subjects, including families, residences, sports, clubs and events, transportation, advertisements, oil, occupations, and many more. Please visit the Hillerman Collection page to learn more.

Chips From the Ole’ Oke

May 12th, 2009


by Paul C. Quillian, Volunteer Archivist and Lorie L. Quillin Davis

The USS Oklahoma Association Collection is now available for public use and research projects in the Research Center of the Oklahoma History Center. The collection consists of papers, records, publications and other ephemera spanning nine decades. Read the rest of this entry »

Record book of the Chickasaw Nation, 1837-1855

April 28th, 2009

By William D. Welge, Director of the Research Division

In the early 1980s the Indian Archives, now the Research Division, was allowed to copy from an original ledger book information relative to the Chickasaw Nation. The book was in the possession of an A.C. West from Texas. The book had been in his family for some years. What makes it so important is that it is the earliest recorded history of the Chickasaw people after their removal to Indian Territory in 1837. The 100 plus page journal was indexed in 1985 to assist researchers.

The volume will include, among other things, information covering aspects of tribal government and national life, court records, elections of national and district officers, acts and resolutions passed by the national legislature, lists of the Chickasaw Lighthorse (national police), divorces, and the murder of Benjamin Love. The copies were microfilmed on roll CKN 30, but copies also can be found in the vertical files under Chickasaw Indians-Courts.


Earliest Image in OHS Research Photo Collection: Daguerreotype

April 21st, 2009


by Beverly Mosman, Assistant Photo Archivist

The earliest photographic image in the Oklahoma Historical Society collection is a daguerreotype of the Dwight Mission School (c. 1840).* Read the rest of this entry »

More Pre-1930 Oklahoma City Death Info from an Unexpected Source

April 7th, 2009

by Brian Basore, Chief Library Technician

Oklahoma is a new enough state that history and family research are still pretty much the same thing, which is why so much of the Research Division’s work has been genealogical for almost 80 years. People who are looking for their family’s past want to find, among other kinds of things, death records. Information about deaths in Oklahoma before 1930 can be difficult to find. I don’t understand why any of the Oklahoma City city directories have death listings in them, but some do. Read the rest of this entry »

Berwyn, OK Renamed Gene Autry

March 31st, 2009


by Rachel Mosman, Associate Photo Archivist

In 1941 the town of Berwyn, in Carter County, changed its name to Gene Autry after the actor and singer. Read the rest of this entry »