Home >

About The Encyclopedia

Creating and Implementing The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture commemorated Oklahoma's Centennial of Statehood in 2007. The purpose of this work of reference is to provide a thoughtful, scholarly retrospective of the state's past, in all of its variety. We aim to approach our past, and to illuminate our present, by examining and presenting our history in basic, well-established historical themes and topics. Each theme is complimented by cultural, regional, and geographical perspectives. The work encompasses time periods from pre-Columbian through the late twentieth century. We include a diversity of disciplines to provide a rounded portrait of the state's history, its physical properties, its many peoples, and their collective and individual pursuits. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture synthesizes decades of scholarship and provides a tool for Oklahomans to use in understanding and broadening knowledge of Oklahoma's heritage.

Planning for the encyclopedia project began in 1998 when Bob L. Blackburn, Oklahoma Historical Society deputy executive director, impaneled a Board of Advisors that included professional historians, preservation experts, arts and humanities scholars, and members of the OHS Board of Directors. See Advisory Board. The task of creating the encyclopedia was assigned to the OHS Publications Division, which also publishes the scholarly quarterly journal The Chronicles of Oklahoma and other books.

In the year 2000 the National Endowment for the Humanities invited the Oklahoma Humanities Foundation to participate in a national initiative to create state and regional encyclopedias. As envisioned by NEH Director William Ferris, the fifty states, and various regions, would create books that would provide a complete picture of the United States as it developed. Because the OHS was already working on an encyclopedia, the Humanities Foundation graciously passed along the conference invitation, and the encyclopedia staff attended the conference held in Washington, D.C., in June 2000. There, other state encyclopedia project staffs explained the mechanics of the undertaking. In particular, Ron Tyler, director of the Texas State Historical Association and editor-in-chief of The New Handbook of Texas, provided guidance. The staff also consulted with editors and publishers of other, similar reference works.

The first five years of effort, 2001–2006, was supported by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities under its Preservation and Access Division's Reference Materials program. The Oklahoma encyclopedia project became the nation's sixth to get under way.

Bolstered by NEH funding, the encyclopedia project became a reality. Staff drafted an operational methodology, and a slate of consulting scholars, each an academician of some note, was chosen to assist with content development and help prepare the Criteria for Inclusion that would be applied to each suggested entry. See Consultants. Most of these individuals assisted either by helping to frame the book's outline of intellectual content or contributing criticisms and refinements to it, by preparing an overview essay for one of the book's twenty-six themes, and/or by reading entries as authors prepared them. Research and writing of entries began in the year 2001 and continued through 2007. More than five hundred academic scholars and other writers contributed more than 2,400 entries, including articles on each of Oklahoma's 77 counties and 581 incorporated towns. The name of each contributing author appears at the end of his or her entry.

This decade-long effort could not have been completed without the patient research assistance provided by the staffs of the Oklahoma Historical Society's Research Division and State Historic Preservation Office, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Carl Albert Congressional Research Center of the University of Oklahoma, and the history faculty of each of Oklahoma's public universities. To all of them, the encyclopedia project's staff extends heartfelt and humble gratitude.

Standards and Guidelines

Because we believe that The Encyclopedia will remain Oklahomans' standard historical reference for years to come, we have adhered to accepted scholarly standards in research, documentation, and presentation. Our policy has been to verify, using secondary and primary sources, all factual material in each entry. Authors were required to footnote their work (although this documentation was not printed with the entry, it resides in project files in the Oklahoma Historical Society's archive in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History Project Files Collection). Inasmuch as possible, facts and assertions were cross-checked with the footnoted sources and in other sources as well. In print and online, each entry is accompanied by a brief bibliography of material for readers to use in a deeper examination of the subject.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture continues to adhere to scholarly standards for creating and publishing factual and interpretive information. These industry standards are best expressed in the Internet Digital Encyclopedia Alliance's white paper, "Toward a Community of Practice: Initial Findings on Best Practices for Digital Encyclopedias," (American Association for State and Local History, 2009–2011).

Ultimate authority for and responsibility for editorial practices and The Encyclopedia's intellectual content reside in the editorial staff of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture in print

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture was published in two volumes by the Oklahoma Historical Society in 2009. Sets of the two volumes are available from the Oklahoma Historical Society and may be purchased in person or online at the OHS web site. ISBN 0-941948-75-1

Copies have been deposited with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries Publications Clearinghouse for distribution to member libraries across the state of Oklahoma.

Awards

In 2011 the Oklahoma Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, chose The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture for its prestigious Director's Award for 2010. The Encyclopedia is one of only five books ever to receive this accolade.

In 2010 the American Library Association's Government Documents Round Table (ALA-GODORT) designated The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture as a recipient of ALA "Notable Document Award for 2009." The Encyclopedia was one of only fifteen state documents to receive a Notable Award in 2010.

In 2011 Gov. Mary Fallin issued a Governor's Commendation to each member of The Encyclopedia's editorial staff, in recognition of their contribution to State of Oklahoma.

Project Staff

Editor: Dianna Everett, Ph.D.
Assistant Editors (emeritus): Larry O'Dell, Linda D. Wilson, Jon D. May
Staff Writers (emeritus): Cynthia Savage, Thomas Hedglen

Interns:
Julie Bennett-Jones, 2007
Deah Caldwell, 2009
Suzanne Kelly, 2002
Nathan Wilson, Ph.D., 2003

Advisory Board:
Hon. Bill Anotubby, Ada
Jim Bellatti, Stillwater
Shirley Bellmon, Red Rock
Andy Coats, Norman
Evelyn K. Davis, Oklahoma City
LeRoy Fischer, Stillwater
Lawrence Hart, Clinton
Melvena Heisch, Oklahoma City
Ernest L. Holloway, Langston
Robert B. Kamm, Stillwater
Marvin E. Kroeker, Ada
Paul Lambert, Oklahoma City
George Nigh, Oklahoma City
Donovan L. Reichenberger, Alva
Linda Saferite, Tulsa
Paul Sharp, Norman
Lee Allan Smith, Oklahoma City
Howard F. Stein, Oklahoma City
Paul Strasbaugh, Oklahoma City
James R. Tolbert III, Oklahoma City
Michael Wallis, Tulsa

Consultants:
Pre-Contact Era, Dr. Bob Brooks, Director, Oklahoma Archeological Survey
European Exploration, Dr. Dianna Everett, Oklahoma Historical Society
Civil War Era, Dr. James L. Huston, Professor in History, Oklahoma State University
Westward Expansion, Dr. W. David Baird, Professor in History, Pepperdine University
Territorial Era, Dr. Kenny Brown, Professor in History, University of Central Oklahoma
Twentieth Century, Dr. Brad Agnew, Professor in History, Northeastern Okla. State University
Nineteenth-Century Military History, Dr. Michael Hughes, Professor in History, East Central University
Environment/Cultural Ecology, Dr. Richard Lowitt, Professor in History, University of Oklahoma (ret.)
Natural Resources, Dr. Charles Mankin, Director, Oklahoma Geological Survey
American Indians, Dr. Donald Fixico, Director, Indigenous Nations Studies, University of Kansas
Immigration/Ethnicity, Dr. Don Brown, Prof. in Anthropology, Oklahoma State University, (ret.)
African Americans, Dr. Jimmie L. Franklin, Professor in History, Vanderbilt University
Settlement Patterns, Dr. Don Green, Dean of Liberal Arts, Chadron State College, (ret.)
Agriculture, Dr. Gilbert Fite, University of Arkansas (ret.)
Industry/Business, Dr. Larkin Warner, Professor in Economics, Oklahoma State University (ret.)
Urban Development, Dr. Bob L. Blackburn, Director, Oklahoma Historical Society
Transportation, Dr. William Corbett, Professor in History, Northeastern Okla. State University
Petroleum Industry, Dr. Kenny Franks, Oklahoma Heritage Association (ret.)
Arts/Humanities, Dr. Sally Soelle, Dean of Liberal Arts, Cameron University (ret.)
Religion/Philosophy, Dr. Alvin O. Turner, Dean of Liberal Arts, East Central University (ret.)
Folklife, Dr. Guy Logsdon, Director, Oklahoma Folklife Center, Tulsa
Recreation/Entertainment, Dr. George Carney, Professor in Cultural Geography, Oklahoma State University (ret.)
Government/Politics, Dr. Danney Goble, Professor in Classics and Letters, University of Oklahoma (dec.)
Women, Dr. Linda Reese, Professor in History, University of Oklahoma