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Oklahoma History Symposium
“Perspectives in History”

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Recorded sessions will be available in the coming weeks.

Morning Activities

9:30 a.m. Networking, coffee, and donuts
10 a.m. Meeting of the OHS Membership
This meeting includes the executive director’s report with updates about OHS activities, the announcement of board election results, the swearing-in of new board members, and possible action on items brought before the membership, if any. This meeting is open to the public.
10:15 a.m.Organizational Meeting of the OHS Board of Directors
In this meeting, the OHS board of directors elects officers, and the president may appoint committee members. This meeting is open to the public.
11:30 a.m.
Exhibitors and Book Signing

Victor Luckerson, Built from the Fire: The Epic Story of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, America’s Black Wall Street (Penguin Random House, 2023)
Stanley Nelson, A Chickasaw Historical Atlas (Chickasaw Press, 2018) and Toli: Chickasaw Stickball Then and Now (Chickasaw Press, 2016)
Sammie Rude Compton, The Cowboy Ike Rude: Riding Into The Wind (Texas A&M University Press, 2023)
Robert B. Pickering, Luck is a Fortune: Adventure, Duty, and Buffalo on the 1841 Frontier (Paragon Press, 2024)

Various book covers

11 a.m.–
12:30 p.m.
Boxed lunches may be pre-ordered at the time of registration. Please note our cafe is currently closed.
11:30 a.m.–Noon headshot of Edurne Pineda Keynote
Our keynote speaker was the Consul of Mexico in Oklahoma City, Edurne Pineda.

Consul Edurne Pineda has a 25-year career in diplomacy, specializing in consular affairs. She was appointed to the Consulates General of Mexico in Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas, where she served as deputy consul general for a decade. Appointed head consul of the new Mexican Consulate in Oklahoma City in October 2022, Pineda began her tenure on December 1, 2022. Under her leadership, the consulate opened its doors on May 20, 2023, providing vital services to Oklahoma’s Mexican community.

As the 51st Mexican consulate in the USA, its mission extends to supporting the community and fostering bilateral relations in government, economics, culture, and tourism between Mexico and Oklahoma. The consulate embodies a longstanding historical connection between Mexico and Oklahoma dating back to the early 20th century when Mexican migrants made substantial contributions to the state’s development, particularly in the railroad and agricultural sectors. Through cultural events, educational programs, and diplomatic initiatives, the consulate celebrates our shared heritage and addresses the needs of the nearly half a million Mexican nationals residing in Oklahoma. These efforts preserve our historical connection by promoting mutual understanding, cooperation, and respect between the people of Oklahoma and Mexico.

Historical Sessions

12:15–12:45 p.m.

“Oklahoma Cemeteries and the Stories They Tell”
Dr. Shelley Martin-Young, teaching assistant professor, Oklahoma State University
(Chesapeake Event Center)

Cemeteries are not just final resting places; they are complex landscapes deeply entwined with our social fabric. Far from mere plots of land, cemeteries serve as a cornerstone of community identity and local attachment. These revered spaces are like miniature biographies of a community, capturing the essence of its history and the diverse lives that shaped it. Cemeteries function as powerful memory spaces. They indicate social status, express ideologies, signify cultural preferences and even highlight historical events.

“Territorial Justice: Oklahoma and the Battle for Educational Rights”
Sara Doolittle, assistant professor, University of Central Oklahoma
(Musser Learning Lab)

This presentation will explore previously unstudied and undiscovered court challenges brought by Black settlers seeking educational access during Oklahoma’s territorial period (1889–1907). Through examining these local cases, Doolittle’s work addresses broader questions we have about educational rights and access. In Oklahoma Territory, Black pioneers had equal rights to land under the Homestead Act and the Organic Act. They had historic access to integrated education in other states, in neighboring Indian Territory, and on military posts. Yet racist forces were determined to deny access to Black children, and families fought against a narrowing of their rights. These families found sympathetic judges in the territory’s courts. As a result, Oklahoma courts heard more challenges than any other state. This history has a broader significance, as this was a pivotal period for the law and public education and a defining period for Black citizenship.

1–1:30 p.m.

“Indian City USA: A Cherished Community and Place of Sharing Native Culture”
Bobbie Chew Bigby (Cherokee Nation), PhD post-doctoral research fellow, University of Waterloo, Ontario, and Randy Palmer (Kiowa/Choctaw), Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society
(Chesapeake Event Center)

Located in Anadarko, Oklahoma, Indian City USA was one of the earliest, longest-running, and most cherished American Indian cultural attractions in the country. Indian City USA brought together multiple Native tribes to share their cultures, histories, and arts with countless visitors over decades, from the mid-1950s through the end of the 2000s. In their forthcoming book documenting Indian City USA, Bigby and Palmer draw on vibrant postcard images, family photographs, and maps, together with the oral histories of those who worked and lived there. This session aims to provide a unique view into Indian City USA and what made it so special for so many people.

“The Curious Case of the Missing Ladies Toilet Room”
Mike Kertok, architect
(Musser Learning Lab)

The Casa Grande Hotel was built in Elk City, Oklahoma in 1928. Its four stories (plus a partial basement) contain 60 guest rooms, a lobby, a banquet room, and a coffee shop, and was in operation until 1968. Apart from a museum, which occupied the lobby and coffee shop in the 1990s, the hotel has been vacant since its closure and is remarkably unaltered. A 2023 survey of the building revealed one curious omission: while there is a large multi-fixture men’s toilet room that served guests attending functions in the banquet room and dining in the coffee shop, there is no surviving comparable women’s toilet room anywhere on the premises. Furthermore, there is no evidence to indicate where one may have been located within the building. Yet surely there must have been one. Women dined in the coffee shop and attended dances and other functions in numbers that must have been equivalent to the men. The solution to this mystery takes an unexpected turn and reveals the dangers of applying 21st-century thinking, with its associated standards and assumptions, to a building designed and built nearly 100 years ago.

1:45–2:15 p.m.

“Between the Black and the White: Asian Americans in the Sooner State, Land Run to Present”
Travis Chambers, professor, University of Central Oklahoma
(Chesapeake Event Center)

As one of the fast-growing segments of Oklahoma’s population, Asian Americans in the Sooner State play an increased role in our political, social, and economic life. Asian communities were concentrated in coastal states, but recent Asian migration took a different pattern, establishing vibrant communities in the “heartland.” As globalization intensifies in the 21st century, Oklahoma is transforming itself to welcome and promote opportunities for development and growth. Why did the Asian population double in our state in the last decade? How were their immigration and assimilation experiences different from those in other parts of the country? What historical circumstances, unique to Oklahoma, affected Asian Americans’ dual identification with either group? This research is designed to function as a narrative history of Oklahoma Asian Americans from the 1890s to 2000s and provide a better understanding of the state’s ongoing globalization and growing diversity.

“Thematic Survey of Calabooses (Tiny Jails) in Oklahoma”
Michael Mayes, survey coordinator, State Historic Preservation Office, Oklahoma Historical Society
(Musser Learning Lab)

In this session, Mayes will present his findings of Oklahoma’s tiny stand-alone jails and their period of significance from 1904 to 1940. The session will give historical context relating to Indian Territory and Oklahoma statehood pertaining to the early development of holding facilities for local communities and the planning and development of those facilities.

2:30–3 p.m.

“American Indian Doughboys from Oklahoma: In Their Own Words”
Erin Fehr (Yup’ik), assistant director and archivist, Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock
(Chesapeake Event Center)

American Indians have participated in every major military conflict since the Revolutionary War and continue to enlist in the US military at higher rates than any other ethnicity. This honorable war record was especially true during World War I, when approximately 2,000 American Indians, who were native residents of Oklahoma and represented approximately 30 tribes, were identified as having served in the US military during World War I. This number does not include those men who attended Chilocco Indian Agricultural School and served. These men represented every military branch and served in various capacities—as bakers, postal workers, scouts, musicians, medical personnel, aviators, and veterinarians, to name a few. The presentation will explore the experiences and motivations of Oklahoma’s American Indian doughboys in their own words, as written in letters and questionnaires from the time.

“Jimmy Stewart Papers in Oklahoma City”
Jennifer Green, CA, special collections librarian, Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County; and Mallory Covington, CA, archival collections manager, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society
(Musser Learning Lab)

Two archivists will share highlights and insights into the personal and professional papers of James Edward “Jimmy” Stewart Sr. Stewart was a civil rights leader and business executive in Oklahoma City who dedicated his life to public service. He was active in local, state, and national civil rights and human rights organizations, including the Oklahoma City branch and the national board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Stewart was appointed to serve on numerous local and national boards and committees committed to ensuring equitable access to all members of the community. The archival collections held by the Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County and the Oklahoma Historical Society create a complete picture of the man and his life’s work. Green and Covington will share highlights from each of the collections, both rich in original writings and correspondence that illustrate the passion and determination that is Stewart’s legacy.

3:15–3:45 p.m.

“Recent Archaeological Investigations at the Edwards-Hardaway Store Site (34LT435), Latimer County”
Kristina Wyckoff, historical archaeologist, Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office, Oklahoma Historical Society
(Chesapeake Event Center)

The Edwards Store, listed in the National Register of Historic Places and identified as one of Oklahoma’s Most Endangered Places in 2013, 2018, and 2019, is undergoing renovation. The standing structure, one of the oldest standing buildings documented in Oklahoma, was the cabin home of Thomas Edwards and Nancy Hardaway Edwards. Edwards Store served as a stop along the Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach Route beginning in 1858 and became the original post office for Red Oak, Indian Territory, in 1868.

Archaeological investigations at the site (34LT435) conducted by the Oklahoma Archeological Survey have been assisted by the East Fork Treasure Hunters metal detecting club, the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Tribal Historic Preservation Office, and students from Red Oak High School. This presentation will discuss the archaeological investigations conducted to date and the preliminary results.

“On the Basis of Sex: Exploration of Craig v. Boren
Anna Davis, editor, The Chronicles of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Historical Society
(Musser Learning Lab)

On October 5, 1976, a landmark case would be argued before the US Supreme Court. Craig v. Boren held that there were discriminatory practices in Oklahoma’s liquor laws, barring men from purchasing liquor until the age of 21 while women could buy at 18. This case, which began on the historic Strip in Stillwater, Oklahoma, would define the work of ACLU lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This presentation will explore the history of the landmark case and how it changed the landscape of all gender-based legislation.

4–4:30 p.m.

“Activism and Leadership in 20th-Century Oklahoma”
Natalie Panther, assistant professor of history; Chelsea Ball, assistant professor of history, director of museum studies; Patricia Loughlin, professor of history; all of the University of Central Oklahoma
(Chesapeake Event Center)

This session will explore the theme of activism and leadership in 20th-century Oklahoma by focusing on two notable representatives and lawmakers. In 1914, William Wirt Hastings became the first Cherokee from Oklahoma elected to the US House of Representatives. Representing northeastern Oklahoma for 18 years, Hastings was a staunch advocate for improved healthcare and education in the Cherokee Nation. Through his efforts, Tahlequah received an Indian Health Service hospital in 1936. In 1968, Hannah Diggs Atkins became the first African American woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. While Atkins would have a successful career as a civil rights leader, including serving as a United Nations delegate, her activism for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was also essential.

“Luck is a Fortune”
Robert Pickering, R. M. and Ida McFarlin Dean of the Library, University of Tulsa
(Musser Learning Lab)

This presentation is based on two diaries, both written by soldiers stationed at Fort Gibson in 1839–40. Lieutenant Marcus Claudius Marcellus Hammond was born into a slaveholding planter family in South Carolina and was educated at West Point. Private John Flynn had worked in New York as a hatter before enlisting as a private of Dragoons. Hammond imagined a gallant military future. Flynn was escaping the urban job destruction caused by the Industrial Revolution. Their powerful personal stories provide insights into the politics and competing interests during this poorly known period of history.

Sessions for Museum and Archive Professionals

12:15 to 1 p.m.   

“To Intern or Not to Intern: Faculty and Student Perspectives on Public History Internships”
Michelle Martin, assistant professor of history and coordinator of public history certificate, Northeastern State University (NSU); Isaac Carroll, student intern, Carl Albert College Archives and Special Collections and senior at NSU; Alex Joffe, student intern at Fort Gibson Historic Site and senior at NSU; Vo Sanders, student intern at the Cherokee National Research Center and a recent graduate of NSU
(OERB Classroom)

This panel will share faculty and student perspectives on public history internships as a part of the educational and career training process. Internships provide students with opportunities to build upon historical skills learned in the classroom and apply them in a real-world setting. However, internships have increasingly come under fire as potential labor exploitation. This panel discussion will highlight the internship experiences of three students and one faculty mentor as they discuss the pros and cons of internships in the public history field.

1:15 to 2 p.m.

“Sources for Funding: Creative Ideas”
Lynda Ozan, deputy state historic preservation officer, State Historic Preservation Office, Oklahoma Historical Society
(OERB Classroom)

This session will cover three topics specific to cultural resource projects: traditional ways of thinking and funding projects, challenging the traditional project description to find new sources for funding, and tools to guide project development and funding searches.

2:15–3 p.m.

“There are Many Oklahoma Histories: Working with Underrepresented Communities to Build a More Inclusive Story”
Carrie Fox, educator, Oklahoma History Center Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society; and Adrian Pan, intern, Oklahoma History Center Museum and senior at the Oklahoma School of Science and Math
(OERB Classroom)

Carrie Fox will provide a brief overview of the process for the major projects she has completed: the Latino History in Oklahoma educational trunk, the Migrations and Oklahoma educational trunk, the African Americans in Oklahoma before 1954 e-exhibit, and the new Asian American/Pacific Islander in Oklahoma educational trunk. The presentation emphasizes the importance of working with the communities represented in these projects and how to start building relationships that allow for a broader story of Oklahoma to gain traction. Adrian Pan, Carrie’s co-author on the trunk, will provide his perspective through a brief video presentation.

Pictured above from left to right, top: Civil rights leader Jimmy Stewart, Indian City USA Cultural Center in Anadarko, lawmaker and activist William Wirt Hastings (Cherokee Nation); bottom: a calaboose (tiny jail) in Manitou, and lawmaker and civil rights leader Hannah Diggs Atkins