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2022 Oklahoma History Symposium
“Perspectives in History”

Presented by the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Oklahoma History Symposium was held on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. This one-day symposium offers scholars, historians, authors, and museum professionals a forum to share their work with history enthusiasts. A keynote, six historical sessions, and three professional development sessions were offered.

In an effort to make historical and cultural programming available anyone who wishes to attend, the Oklahoma History Symposium was free and open to the public.

Sponsored by

OU Press Preservation Oklahoma

Symposium Schedule

10–10:50 a.m. Book signing featuring
Connie Cronley, author of A Life on Fire: Oklahoma’s Kate Barnard (OU Press, 2021)
Russell Cobb, author of The Great Oklahoma Swindle: Race, Religion, and Lies in America’s Weirdest State (Bison Books, 2020)
Sarah Eppler Janda and Patricia Loughlin, editors of This Land Is Herland: Gendered Activism in Oklahoma from the 1870s to the 2010s (OU Press, 2021)
A. Kenneth Stern, author of Oklahoma’s Chief of Public Instruction 1890-2015: The Position, The Politics, and The Public Servants (Superintendents) (New Forums Press, 2021)

A collage of book covers
11–11:15 a.m. Meeting of the OHS Membership
11:15–11:30 a.m. Organizational Meeting of the OHS Board of Directors
11:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Keynote speaker Connie Cronley

Headshot of Connie Cronley Our keynote speaker will be author Connie Cronley. Cronley is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and recipient of the Oklahoma Historical Society’s 2021 E. E. Dale Award for Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History for A Life on Fire: Oklahoma’s Kate Barnard. Attendees may order a boxed lunch from Mediterranean Imports for $12. Lunch is optional and is not required to attend the keynote.

Historical Sessions

12:30–1 p.m. “The History and Restoration of the Oklahoma State Capitol,” Trait Thompson, executive director, Oklahoma Historical Society

Before becoming executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society in 2021, Trait Thompson was the project manager of the Oklahoma Capitol Restoration Project. He will discuss the history of the Oklahoma State Capitol and how this monumental restoration project was achieved.

1:10–1:40 p.m. “Japanese Wrestlers in a 1960s Oklahoma College Town,” Roger Moore, doctoral student, Oklahoma State University

Following World War II, relations between Japanese and American conservatives were strained for myriad reasons. Negative attitudes toward those of Asian descent in the US dated to the nineteenth century and continued with the internment camps of the 1940s; the end of World War II and the dropping of atomic bombs led to mistrust and tensions in the decades to follow

Representing a small, rural community in Oklahoma, wrestler Myron Roderick forged a relationship with Japanese wrestling representatives at the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. This connection led to Japanese wrestlers attending Oklahoma State University in the 1960s.

This session will reveal how wrestling can be a model to show sports’ ability to soften cross-cultural and racial divides. Despite often negative and stereotypical attitudes toward Japanese elsewhere, a small Midwestern community was able to accept and participate, although minimally, in attempts at healing the racial divide created by World War II.

1:50–2:40 p.m. “Mvskoke Allotments in ‘The Oil Capital of the World’: Reflections of Tulsa’s First Landowners,” panel discussion, the Lucinda Hickory Research Institute and Philbrook Museum of Art

From the Lucinda Hickory Research Institute (LHRI)
Tatianna Duncan, LHRI founder and executive director
Russell Cobb, University of Alberta, LHRI vice-chair, author
Gano Perez, GIS Cultural Specialist at Muscogee Nation, LHRI Advisory Board
DeAnalisa Jones, LHRI secretary and treasurer, MD/PhD candidate, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

From the Philbrook Museum of Art
Christina Burke, curator of Native American Art
Susan Green, Marcia Manhart Endowed Associate Curator for Contemporary Art & Design

The story of Tulsa often features oilfield discoveries, railroad booms, and rags-to-riches oilmen. The main event in the story is the city's ascendancy to “The Oil Capital of the World” in the 1920s. Prestigious museums, art deco buildings, and the Golden Driller stand as a testament to this narrative. In this panel discussion, representatives from Philbrook Museum of Art will join The Lucinda Hickory Research Institute to discuss their mission to preserve the names and events left out of that narrative.

Many Mvskoke landowners were betrayed and swindled as Tulsa became the financial center of the nation’s largest oil patch. Their names are rarely commemorated in public institutions, parks, or cultural centers. Yet their lives were well documented in real estate transactions, newspapers, and oral histories. In the spirit of truth and healing, Philbrook Museum of Art and The Lucinda Hickory Research Institute will discuss their ongoing research into the stories of a handful of the original allottees.

2:50–3:20 p.m. “The Elder Dunjee: An Examination of the Life and Influence of John William Dunjee in Early Oklahoma,” Edith Ritt-Coulter, doctoral candidate, University of North Texas

When the history of Oklahoma City’s African American community is discussed, Roscoe Dunjee’s influence resonates within the historical record. Dunjee is noted as a leader who crusaded for Black equality through his work with the NAACP, various community groups, and his newspaper, the Black Dispatch.

This session seeks to extend the story of Dunjee by acknowledging the legacy of his father, John William Dunjee. The elder Dunjee contributed to the establishment of African American churches throughout Oklahoma and Indian Territories. He instilled in his children a sense of political consciences rooted in the ideology of racial uplift that impacted Oklahoma’s Black communities and communities throughout the United States. The goal presentation is to share the development of Oklahoma City’s African American community, receive feedback from fellow historians, and present a new perspective on understanding the impact of the Dunjee family as a whole.

3:30–4 p.m.

“The Native American Culture Group: Indigenous Community Organizing and Activism at a Federal Prison in 1970s Oklahoma,” John Truden, doctoral candidate, University of Oklahoma

Indigenous prisoners in state and federal prisons often organized cultural associations. These associations—which have parallels with modern organizations such as Huy in the Washington State Penitentiary—were created to build intertribal community, focus on Indigenous cultures, and raise awareness. About thirty such groups existed across the United States and Canada during the 1970s. In 1972, Indigenous inmates at El Reno Federal Correctional Institute formed one such association, the Native American Culture Group (NACG).

In addition to holding regular meetings into the mid-1970s, producing a newsletter, and making ties with organizations, the NACG was featured in a short film by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This session will provide context about this film and the organizations created by Indigenous prisoners.

4:10–4:40 p.m.

“Cora Diehl Harvey and Helen Churchill Candee: An Insider, an Outsider, and the Fluidity of Power in Oklahoma,” Chrissy Carlson and Sandi M. Colby, graduate students, University of Central Oklahoma

In 1891, Cora Diehl was the first and only woman elected to office in Oklahoma Territory, but for the next one hundred and thirty years, her history was largely unknown. Cora's marriage in 1893 signaled her erasure from Oklahoma memory, but for the remainder of Cora's life, she worked inside and outside the specified gender constructions of the Progressive Era to achieve power and autonomy unique for a woman of the early twentieth century.

Unlike Cora Diehl, whose life and work was rooted in Oklahoma, Helen Churchill Candee was an outsider, an Eastern socialite whose only interest in the territory was as the means to secure the divorce that the New York courts had denied her. While she only lived in Oklahoma a short time, Candee was exposed to and recognized the opportunities available to women in the region. She utilized those opportunities to their fullest, reinventing herself multiple times and using her acquired authority and influence to improve her own life and the lives of others.

These two women leveraged the fluidity of power in territorial Oklahoma to achieve both social and political access to power in a country that still withheld political participation from women. This session will compare these women and their methods, impacts, and results.

Professional Development Sessions

12:30-1:50 p.m.

“Registration Essentials”
Ensure your organization has a good foundation with proper documents and policies regarding collections ownership and acquisition, care, and use. In this session, OHS curatorial staff will share best practices for registration.
Jennifer Holt, Curator of Collections, Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Birthplace Ranch; and Erin Brown, Curator, Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library

2–3 p.m.

“How to Tell Your Story: A Public History Roundtable”
How do you appropriately interpret the past? How do you reach people effectively? Is creating public programming expensive? Join this discussion with Oklahoma Historical Society staff as they talk about their experiences educating the public. Whether it be a historic home, traditional museum, battlefield, or a large-scale initiative, all programming helps you better fulfill your mission by connecting your institution to the world.
David Fowler, Regional Director, Oklahoma Historical Society Northeastern Region; Nicole Harvey, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Oklahoma Historical Society; and Jake Krumwiede, Director, Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center

3:10–4:50 p.m.

“‘Is That Available Online?’: Digitizing Archival Materials”
Join OHS professionals for a panel discussion on digitizing multiple types of media.
Sarah Biller, Newspaper Department Supervisor; Jason Hadley, Digital Imaging Specialist; Rachel Mosman, Photo and Digital Assets Manager; and Diane Wasser, Film and Video Archivist