Sam Noble Gallery 3

Audio point: Lew Carroll's wagon


Most of this gallery illustrates Oklahoma’s early history by topic, such as the law and order, education, farming and ranching, and the land runs. You will also see exhibits about the musical Oklahoma!, a 1950s kitchen, the Oklahoma Century Chest, and some of the museum’s most recent acquisitions in Curators’ Corner.

The wagon you see here was used in the Land Run of 1889 by Mr. and Mrs. Lew F. Carroll from Kansas. It was used again in the Cherokee Outlet Run of 1893 when they settled in Kay County.

In Indian Territory, the land owned by different tribes was divided into allotments. The remaining land was then opened for land runs. The first and most famous land run was April 22, 1889, but more followed.

It is called a box wagon and was made by the Turnbull Wagon Company of Defiance, Ohio, in June of 1888 and was sold through a nationwide system of retailers. A box wagon design is small and lightweight, making it suitable for long-distance travel. The bonnet, or canvas cover, is cantilevered out to provide shade and protection from storms and the ends can be closed for privacy or protection from the elements.

American Indians were not willing participants of these events and feared that they would continue to lose more, including their traditional way of life, and their national sovereignty.

Audio point: Oklahoma! Playbill


This is a program from the 2019 Broadway revival of Oklahoma! This production began at Bard College before playing a sold-out run off Broadway at St. Ann’s Warehouse prior to its Broadway transfer. Hailed for its innovation, the most recent production is viewed as a considerably darker retelling of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

Directed by Daniel Fish and performed in the round, the 2019 revival won Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Featured Actress in a Musical. With her Tony win for the role of Ado Annie, Ali Stroker became the first wheelchair-using actress to win one of Broadway’s highest awards.

The 2019 revival of Oklahoma! was considered groundbreaking for a number of reasons. This production was purposefully staged in a small, intimate theater. The audience was seated so closely that the front row sat at tables along the edges of the stage. The use of light throughout the performance aided the darker tone of the revival. Much of the show was performed with stark, bright lights remaining on throughout the theater, allowing the audience to be seen at all times.

The manner in which director Fish chose to stage the ending of Oklahoma! proved controversial to some. Fish focused on the violence of the final fight between Curly and Jud, leaving the declaration of Curly’s innocence and the promise of happiness in the new land tinged with doubt. The touring production for the Oklahoma! revival was originally slated to kick off in Oklahoma City in the fall of 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Audio point: Century studio camera


Convicts entering the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester from 1910 through the 1960s had their mugshots taken with this Kodak camera.

The camera before you is a Century Studio Camera No. 4 made by the Eastman Kodak Company, produced from 1900 to 1907. A plate on the camera appears to show it was made in 1905. An advertisement stated, “the Camera, the No. 4 Century, is of a rather compact type of construction and will therefore probably commend itself to many photographers.” This camera was once operated by Herman H. Drover, the prison’s Bertillon officer. A Bertillon officer was responsible for making a photograph or mugshot of the prisoner as well as taking measurements and noting personal features such as hair and eye color. Officer Drover and six others were killed on January 19, 1914, during a prison break.

Oklahoma State Penitentiary (21412.M112.4, Z.P. Meyers/Barney Hillerman Photographic Collection, OHS)
The First Lutheran Church, 1949 (2012.201.B0970.0582, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)

Audio point: Edison phonograph


The Oklahoma Century Chest time capsule was buried on April 22, 1913, in the basement of the First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City. One hundred years later on April 22, 2013, the church, in partnership with the Oklahoma Historical Society, opened the chest and revealed the perfectly preserved contents deposited by the pioneers of Oklahoma City.

This Model D Edison Combination Type Gem Phonograph was donated to the Century Chest by Frederickson-Kroh Music Company located at 221 West Main Street. The machine retailed for $15 and could record and play the standard black wax two-minute audio cylinders. The Gem was introduced in 1909, and was one of the most popular phonographs available until it was discontinued in 1914. This machine was used by Angelo C. Scott to record his speech delivered at the Century Chest burial ceremony. In addition, a number of Oklahoma City musicians and singers used this machine to produce popular music recordings that were also deposited in the Oklahoma Century Chest along with Scott’s speech. Although the organizers had the forethought to include this phonograph player along with the wax cylinders so future generations could hear the recorded material, the speech and music heard in this exhibit were digitized using laser technology.

Earlier wax cylinders could only record up to two minutes’ worth of playing time. By 1909 Amberola phonographs and cylinders could record four minutes of audio and were supposed to compete with the finer, “high-class” phonographs offered by Victrola and Grafonola. The phonograph exhibited here came after Edison’s original company reorganized into Thomas A. Edison, Inc. By 1913 the Edison Company was the only phonograph company still producing cylinders. Most others had turned to producing discs. Though Edison eventually produced disc phonographs as well, they did not stop making cylinders until 1929.

Thomas Edison and an early phonograph (2012.201.B0150.0772, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)

Audio point: Canvas bag for picking cotton


This bag is a canvas sack used for collecting cotton by hand. It is 14 feet long! The United States was producing almost two thirds of the world’s cotton at the beginning of the 20th century. Nevertheless, cotton has always been a difficult crop to produce because cotton bolls mature at different rates. This caused people hand picking cotton to have to pick the fields multiple times each season. Sacks used could be up to 14 feet long in size and could weigh as much as 100 pounds when full. Workers often left the fields with bloody hands and sore backs. It is estimated that to harvest one acre of cotton, more than 120 hours were required. Because of the labor that cotton picking involved, farmers were eager to find a mechanical way to harvest cotton and between the 1940s and the 1960s, the industry went from having almost no mechanical capabilities to having over 90 percent of cotton harvested by machines.

Picking cotton in Garvin County (2012.201.B0242.0606, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)
A cotton gin in southern Oklahoma (2012.201.B0242.0532, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)

Audio point: Ballet costume


Jo Rowan is a nationally known master ballet and tap dance teacher and performer, and studied under Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1960s.

Jo Rowan’s American Tarantella celebrates New York City’s Feast of San Gennaro. The Feast of San Gennaro was first celebrated in 1926 by Napoli immigrants in New York City’s Little Italy. The Feast mirrored the Italian celebration of Saint Januarius, patron saint of Naples. Today the Feast of San Gennaro is a multiday annual celebration centered around Mulberry Street in New York.

The 1964 ballet Tarantella mixed the “national dances” of 19th-century ballet with the technique of modern dancers. There have been several other ballets that are also based on movements from the tarantella, including the finale of August Bournonville’s Napoli and the Neapolitan Dance in The Royal Ballet’s production of Swan Lake. The costumes, particularly the female’s frilled headdress, nod to the traditional Italian folk dress upon which the dance is based.

Yvonne Chouteau (2012.201.B1258.0076, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)
Jo Rowan (2012.201.B1110.0347, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)

Kerr-McGee Gallery 3

Audio point: Golden Driller replica


The Golden Driller statue you see here is a scale model of the original located on the grounds of Tulsa’s Expo Square. The Golden Driller has the distinction of being Oklahoma’s official state monument. The first version of the sculpture was created for display during the 1953 International Petroleum Exposition. It is made of concrete, contains 2.5 miles of rods and mesh, and can withstand 200-mile-per-hour winds. The image of this iconic monument has been reproduced in many creative ways including on the Jim Beam bottle, special lapel pin, and mouse pad you see on exhibit.

A fitting symbol for the city once dubbed “The Oil Capital of the World,” the Golden Driller has had several varying forms since its debut in 1953. The original statue stood with one arm up holding the thumb and index finger together. In 1959 the statue was more detailed: this time the driller was climbing an oil derrick and waving. Though this was the version that was eventually donated to the City of Tulsa, the Golden Driller required another makeover to be able to withstand Oklahoma’s elements for the long term. The next version was designed by a Greek immigrant artist, who had previously worked on the original figure. His design was unveiled in 1966. However, the statue as we know it today was not finalized until 1979 when the Golden Driller was refurbished.

The installation of the Golden Driller, 1966 (2012.201.B1299.0176, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)
The Golden Driller, 1977 (2012.201.B1203.0851, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)

Audio point: Segregation sign


Before the Civil Rights Movement, signage was used across the United States to divide public and private spaces into separate and unequal zones. This, most famously associated with the Jim Crow South era, was a tactic used to re-enforce unequal status. The signage specified “Whites Only” or “Colored,” which are the terms used at the time. Signs existed not only in locations such as lunch counters and public bathrooms, but were so pervasive across American society that there were separate vending machine slots and even pet cemeteries. African Americans were also not the only minority community that was targeted by restrictive signs. Other ethnic and racial groups including members of Jewish, Asian, and Latinx communities faced similar barriers in certain parts of the United States. Some scholars have noted that even after the Civil Rights Movement, some areas would use black and white paint to differentiate between doors instead of using overt signs similar to the one on display here. This allowed businesses and communities to continue to resist integration.

Dr. E. C. Snow Jr., left, and unidentified companion picket stores on West Main Street in Oklahoma City, 1960 (2012.201.B0927.0760, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)
Demonstrators picketing outside a business, 1961 (2012.201.B0927.0844, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)

Audio point: Civil War surgeon's kit


The surgeon’s kit seen here belonged to a Choctaw doctor serving in the Confederate Army at Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation. He used these same instruments for the remainder of his professional career as a doctor in Indian Territory.

While some Union Army surgeons carried army-issued surgical kits, most volunteer doctors brought their own sets to the battlefield. One way to tell how old the medical tools are and when they might have been issued is to look at the handles. Crosshatch or crisscross pattern indicates age because in the mid-19th century, increased knowledge of sterilization led to the belief that smooth handles for surgical tools were healthier. Throughout the war, both Union and Confederate doctors formed army medical societies to discuss techniques and evaluate proper procedures. For the most part, when performing amputations, surgeons tried to use anesthesia such as ether (which was developed in the 1840s) when it was available. Even when unconscious, patients still had to be held down during battlefield amputations because they believed that there was still a possibility that the patient’s body might become agitated and move during the operation.

Audio point: WAVES uniform


This uniform belonged to a woman serving in the WAVES as a storekeeper first class. The WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service was a division of the US Navy in which female sailors were integrated into the main force. WAVES served stateside and in Hawaii during World War II.

Sailors with a storekeeper rating are responsible for purchasing, shipping, receiving and issuing tools and gear, and managing any items procured through the US Navy supply system. It is one of the oldest ratings in the US Navy.

President Roosevelt signed the WAVES program into law on July 30, 1942. Mildred McAfee was sworn in as a lieutenant commander and was the first female commissioned officer of the US Navy. The program was a huge success; by the fall of 1942 the US Navy had produced 10,000 women for active service. The WAVES unit remained in service until 1972.

Yeoman Barbara Metz, Oklahoma City naval recruiter, helps swear in her sister Doris Elaine Metz as a WAVE, 1965 (2012.201.B0901.0092, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)
Left to right: Maj. Ruth Cheney Streeter, director, women's reserve, Marine Corps; Lt. Comdr. Mildred McAfee, director, WAVES; Col. Oveta Culp Hobby, director, WAACS, and Lt. Comdr. Dorothy C. Stratton, director, women's reserve, Coast Guard, 1943 (2012.201.B0297B.0189, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)

Audio point: Thomas C. Allen's flight helmet


In 1932 Oklahoma pilots Thomas C. Allen and J. Herman Banning became the first African Americans to complete a transcontinental flight. They flew from Los Angeles to New York in an Alexander Eaglerock biplane in 18 days. They referred to themselves as the “Flying Hobos” because they raised financial backing as they flew across the country. Allen wore this helmet and pair of goggles during that flight.

J. Herman Banning and Thomas C. Allen (21412.BH734, Z.P. Meyers/Barney Hillerman Photographic Collection, OHS)

Audio point: Steamboat Heroine artifacts


The Heroine sank on the Red River near Fort Towson, Oklahoma, in 1837 and is the oldest steamboat excavated and studied in detail by archaeologists. It predates the earliest detailed drawings of any western river steamboat. Built in 1832, the 160-ton Heroine measured more than 136 feet in length and more than 20 feet in width. It changed our understanding of steamboat travel, engineering, and daily life aboard a western river steamboat.

Almond shells, corn cobs, and peach pits were among the few food items found on the Heroine and provide evidence of what crew and passengers may have been eating. Pork flesh and bones are known to have been a part of the cargo because a fully intact barrel of salted pork was uncovered. Records indicate that there were 240 barrels of pork, 220 barrels of white beans, 500 barrels of flour, 3,500 pounds of soap, 1,600 pounds of candles, and 80 bushels of salt on board when Heroine departed.

Artifacts are clues, and some of the items that you see here—discovered during the excavation of the Heroine—have given historians new insight into daily life on an 1830s steamboat. Among the personal artifacts found were a complete boot, three shoes, and a sole. Notice the two shoes that were altered to create a form of slipper.

Discovered in 1999, this has been an extensive, ongoing project and discovery partnership between the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University.

Audio point: 101 Ranch Stagecoach


The term “riding shotgun” started showing up in the early 20th century and has its roots in stagecoach trips across the early American West. The person riding next to the driver of a stagecoach loaded with valuable cargo carried a shotgun as protection. The passenger was originally referred to as a shotgun messenger. As it is used today, it just means riding in the front seat with the driver.

Tom Mix films
Watch five short silent films featuring Tom Mix. Tom and the Sheriff shows Mix fighting a crooked sheriff. In Up for Ransom, he is kidnapped and held by Mexican guerrillas. In Cyclone Tom, Mix rescues a stagecoach. Western Life shows Mix having fun and roping, and in Celebrating the Fourth, he and his friends play pranks.
Watch on YouTube (19 minutes)

The Life of Buffalo Bill
This black-and-white silent film is a shortened version of the original. This version was distributed by Blackhawk films in 1959. The film shows Buffalo Bill himself in the opening and closing scenes. He is also portrayed by an actor in a dream sequence.

Watch on YouTube (33 minutes)

Oklahoma HumanitiesNational Endowment for the Humanities

This program is sponsored in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.