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Oklahoma History Center Traveling Exhibits

Oklahoma History Center traveling exhibits bring Oklahoma history and culture to communities across the state and country. Please contact the venue listed for more information.

Wanted: Dead or Alive

Images from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the University of Oklahoma Western History Collections, the National Archives, the vast photographic archives of the Oklahoma Historical Society, and private lenders are included in this exhibit. These black-and-white images consist of mugshots, crime scene locations, and group shots with criminals and law enforcement officers. They span more than 70 years, starting before statehood in 1907 and reaching into the late 1950s.

On Exhibit
Catoosa Historical Society Museum
Catoosa, Oklahoma
early June through early August 2021

Sand Springs Cultural & Historical Museum
Sand Springs, Oklahoma
late August through early November 2021

Jim Lucas Checotah Public Library
Checotah, Oklahoma
mid-November 2021 to early January 2022

Smoke Over Oklahoma: The Railroad Photographs of Preston George

This collection of images represents the railroad photographs taken by Preston George during the 1930s and 1940s. George photographed trains in his spare time while working as a civil engineer in Colorado and Oklahoma. Born in 1906 in Indian Territory, George’s interest in trains began at an early age, but did not culminate into a full-fledged pastime until the 1930s when he said, “I ran across a copy of Railroad Stories, later renamed Railroad Magazine, and saw the many photos of locomotives and trains. This started me on a new hobby...Soon, I was snapping still pictures of locomotives with a cheap Kodak camera and trading them far and wide with other fans.”

On Exhibit
Pioneer Townsite Museum
Frederick, Oklahoma
late August 2020 through early November 2021

All-Black Towns of Oklahoma

Shortly after the 1889 Land Run opened the Oklahoma Territory to settlement, black leaders hoped to make the newly-opened lands a home for oppressed African Americans throughout the United States. Oklahoma was promoted as the land where African Americans could come for the dream of self-government. As many as fifty communities arose where only African Americans lived and governed themselves. Even though “Jim Crow” became the law of the land after statehood, All-Black towns survived and continue to thrive in modern Oklahoma.

On Exhibit
Black Caucus of the American Library Association National Conference of African American Librarians
Tulsa, Oklahoma
July 28 to August 1, 2021

Exploring Oklahoma’s Latino(a) History

The presence of the Latino(a) community has been felt in Oklahoma since the early days of Spanish exploration in the New World. Originally, the Spanish laid claim to parts of modern-day Oklahoma after the expeditions of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado in 1541 and Juan de Oñate in 1601. The Spanish claim on Oklahoma, which was passed on to Mexico, would last for more than three hundred years. France later claimed a portion as its own territory after Sieur de La Salle ventured west in 1682. With the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819, the United States gained control of all lands in present Oklahoma except for the Panhandle, which the Republic of Mexico did not cede until the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848.

In Oklahoma, Spanish explorers briefly mixed with Indigenous tribes in the early days of exploration. Later, some Spanish settlers from Mexico were brought to Oklahoma as captives of various tribes, while other settlers hired tribal members to work on ranches across northern areas of Mexican territory. With the formation of the Great Spanish Road, the earliest recorded trail to the Red River, Oklahoma became commercially linked to Mexico, creating an intermixing of goods, cultures, and peoples.

Much of Oklahoma’s Latino(a) population, historically speaking, is of Mexican ancestry. Through the 1960s, Oklahoma’s Latino(a) communities were composed almost exclusively of immigrants from Mexico, ranging from those who fled during the Mexican Revolution, to families that joined their migrant worker relatives in the state and settled here permanently. Some of the numbers are difficult to track because the US census did not offer a racial category for Latin Americans until the 1980s. Still, studies show an uptick in Latino(a) migration to Oklahoma in the 1950s and 1960s, followed by a significant surge after the 1980s.

This exhibit is presented in both English and Spanish. The exhibit includes the immigration of Latino(a) people from pre-statehood to the present day and touches on education, religion, and culture. There are also oral history links included. Visitors can scan a QR code with their phones to listen to an oral history.

On Exhibit
Tulsa Historical Society
Tulsa, Oklahoma
early July through August 2021

East Central University
Ada, Oklahoma
Early September through October 2021

Fundamentals for Preservation of Oklahoma’s Archeological and Historic Properties

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Historic Preservation Act into law. It and its amendments established the structure and mechanisms for treatment of the nation’s archeological and historic properties, including the creation of the National Register of Historic Places, authorization of the Historic Preservation Fund, and provision for State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO). Oklahoma’s SHPO is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. This exhibit features photographs of twenty-nine of the state’s historic properties and highlights the important work of the State Historic Preservation Office.

On Exhibit
Dobson Museum
Miami, Oklahoma
July through August 2021

Cherokee Nation: A Portrait of a People

This exhibit presents fifty-five portraits of individuals, couples, and families by noted Oklahoma photographer and artist David Fitzgerald. The strikingly clear and visually rich photographs allow the viewer insight into elements in the broad spectrum of Cherokee life in Oklahoma today. Several of the individuals in these portraits are elders who have been named a Living National Treasure/Master Craftsperson. Whether the photographs depict settings associated with traditional practices or contemporary occupations, Fitzgerald’s images convey his respect and affinity for the people in this project.

On Exhibit
Fort Gibson Historic Site
Fort Gibson, Oklahoma
September through November 2021

Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry

Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry was organized by the American Library Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Dr. Jess C. Porter from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Some of the exhibit is from the Oklahoma State University library and features their Women of the Dust Bowl oral histories. Mount Holyoke College Library, which houses the Caroline Henderson papers (letters, essays and articles by a woman who farmed throughout the Dust Bowl) were also an inspiration for the exhibit.

On Exhibit
Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum
Pawnee, Oklahoma
mid-March through mid-May 2022

Bring Oklahoma History Center Exhibits to Your Community

The Oklahoma History Center offers several traveling exhibits on a variety of topics.

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