Home > PublicationsEncyclopedia >  Rister, Carl Coke

RISTER, CARL COKE (1889–1955).

A historian of the Southwest who also wrote prolifically on Oklahoma-related topics, Carl Coke Rister was a native Texan born June 30, 1889, at Hayrick, in Coke County. Educated in Texas, Rister received a bachelor's degree from Simmons College (now Hardin-Simmons University) and then studied briefly at the University of California at Berkeley under Herbert Eugene Bolton before entering George Washington University and earning a master's degree and a doctorate in history. An excellent athlete, Rister considered a career in professional baseball but gave it up for the life of a historian.

After teaching at Hardin-Simmons for nearly four years, Rister accepted a position in the history department in the University of Oklahoma (OU). During his tenure he advanced to full professor and research professor and became chair of the department in 1944. While at OU, Rister researched and wrote ten books and numerous articles. He mined a number of Oklahoma topics, publishing Land Hunger: David L. Payne and the Oklahoma Boomers (1942), No Man's Land (1948), and several articles in The Chronicles of Oklahoma. His contribution to historical literature, however, lay in broader studies of the Southwest as a region.

An important movement in humanities circles in the academic world of the 1920s and 1930s, Regionalism found fertile soil at OU. There a cadre of scholars emphasized historical, literary, artistic, and scientific developments in Oklahoma and surrounding area, just as other scholars were doing on campuses in the Midwest and elsewhere in the West. Rister's Regionalist contemporaries at OU included Stanley Vestal (Walter S. Campbell) of the English department, E. E. Dale of the history department, Oscar Jacobson of the art department, Paul B. Sears of the botany department, and folklorist B. A. Botkin. Bringing their work together as a genre, Joseph A. Brandt, director of the University of Oklahoma Press since its 1928 inception, provided the scholars a publishing venue that still endures. Rister included Oklahoma in his studies of the Southwest as a region, which he roughly defined as western Kansas, eastern Colorado, western Oklahoma, western Texas, and eastern New Mexico. These works included The Southwestern Frontier (1928), The Greater Southwest (1934), Western America (1941, a widely used college textbook co-authored with Leroy Hafen), and Southern Plainsmen (1938, a study of folklife that used much Oklahoma material). His 1949 book Oil! Titan of the Southwest remains a significant contribution to oil-field history.

In 1951 Rister left OU to join the history faculty in Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University), Lubbock, Texas. His exceptional career was cut short by a fatal heart attack at Rotan, Texas, on April 16, 1955.

Dianna Everett

See also: BENJAMIN ALBERT BOTKIN, EDWARD EVERETT DALE, PAUL BIGELOW SEARS, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA PRESS, STANLEY VESTAL

Bibliography

William H. Leckie, "Carl Coke Rister," Great Plains Journal 18 (1979).

Richard Lowitt, "Regionalism at the University of Oklahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 73 (Summer 1995).

Janet Neugebauer, "Texas Tech's First Distinguished Professor," Texas Tech in Retrospect (March–April 1995).

Rupert N. Richardson, "A Dedication to the Memory of Carl Coke Rister, 1889–1955," Arizona and the West 14 (Winter 1972).

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society. This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia and part or in whole.

Photo credits: All photographs presented in the published and online versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture are the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society and are held in the agency's Research Division Photograph Archives (unless otherwise stated).


Citation

The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, "Rister, Carl Coke," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed December 10, 2017).

About the Encyclopedia | Terms of Use | Using the Encyclopedia