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Press Release

May 8, 2019

Contact: Larry O’Dell
Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 405-522-6676

2019 Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

OKLAHOMA CITY — Charles Tate, chair of the 2019 Oklahoma History and Preservation Conference Committee, announced that four individuals were inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame at the conference’s annual Awards Luncheon in Chickasha on April 26. The honorees were Dr. Dianna Everett, Edmond; Emmy Scott Stidham, Checotah; Dr. Mary Jo Watson, Oklahoma City; and Helen Freudenberger Holmes, deceased. The 2019 Oklahoma History and Preservation Conference was sponsored by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) and the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office.

Dr. Dianna Everett was born and raised in Roswell, New Mexico. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern New Mexico University, and in 1985 she earned her doctorate in history from Texas Tech University with a minor in anthropology. From 1979 to 1988 she worked for the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum as the director of publications and grants administrator, where she edited the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review. After moving to Oklahoma, she did research and writing for the OHS, Oklahoma Museums Association, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office. She also created history exhibits for the Oklahoma Humanities Council under National Endowment for the Humanities grants. In 1998 Everett became the managing editor for The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture project for the OHS. In 2005 she also took over the duties of OHS director of publications and began editing The Chronicles of Oklahoma. Everett has written and edited seven books, including “Coronado and the Myth of Quivira” (1986) and “The Texas Cherokees: A People Between Two Fires, 1819–1840” (1990). She has written more than 60 National Register of Historic Places nominations, three Historic District nominations and a National Historic Landmark designation.

Emmy Scott Stidham was born in Edmond and graduated from Checotah High School. She attended the University of Oklahoma, where she majored in journalism. Stidham helped organize the Checotah Landmark Preservation Society to save the local Katy Railroad Depot. The organization, with Stidham as president, moved the depot, financed its renovation and developed a long-range plan to turn it into a museum and community center for the town. In 1987 she was instrumental in organizing and coordinating the volunteers for the first OHS Battle of Honey Springs reenactment. She has been helping with the event for more than 30 years. In 1988 the OHS membership elected Stidham to its board of directors. She has served on the executive board, as treasurer, as vice president and, from 2011 to 2014, she led the board as its president.

Mary Jo Watson is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation. She was born in Seminole and graduated from Seminole High School. Watson earned three degrees from the University of Oklahoma (OU): a bachelor of fine arts in art history in 1974, a master of liberal studies in 1979 and a doctorate in art history in 1993. After receiving her doctorate, Watson joined the OU School of Art and Art History as a full-time faculty member. Beginning in 1994, she developed the Native Art History program for the university, creating a series of undergraduate and graduate courses and establishing the first art history doctoral program in Oklahoma to include an emphasis on American Indian art and art of the American West. In 2002 OU promoted her to associate dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts. In 2006 the college selected her as the director of the School of Art and Art History, a position she held until 2013. In 2008 the University of Oklahoma named her to the position of regents professor. She has given hundreds of presentations about American Indian art all over the world. In 2009 the Native American Art Market selected her as a juror.

Helen Freudenberger Holmes was born in 1915 and raised near Pleasant Valley, Oklahoma. After graduating from Coyle High School as its valedictorian, she attended Oklahoma A&M College, later Oklahoma State University, where she majored in English. In 1940 she earned a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After receiving her master’s degree, Holmes returned to Oklahoma to teach journalism at Oklahoma A&M, the first woman to do so. During this time she also produced and delivered three weekly newscasts on Tulsa’s KVOO radio station. With the outbreak of World War II, she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and graduated as part of the first officer’s training class in August of 1942. Holmes served first as a public relations officer and then an intelligence officer stationed in several locations, including Germany. She retired from the US Army with the rank of major. In 1972 Holmes moved to Guthrie and became a member of the city council. In 1979 the citizens of Guthrie elected her mayor. In this position she championed the architectural renovation of the city. Holmes was the principal author and editor of the 1,200-plus page, two-volume Logan County History: 1889–1979. For 17 years she wrote an ’89er edition of the Guthrie Daily Leader to commemorate the Land Run of 1889. She also wrote Homes of Historic Guthrie, which was published in 1987.

Since 1993 the Oklahoma Historical Society has annually honored inductees, both professional and amateur, in its Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame. Recipients are selected on the basis of their contributions to the preservation, collection, interpretation and dissemination of Oklahoma history. To date, 109 individuals have been inducted.

The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.


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