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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Left to right: John Golombie (Chickasaw), Czarina Colbert Conlan, and Joseph Oklahombi (Choctaw) at Oklahombi’s home near Wright City, Oklahoma, 1921
(4122, Czarina Conlan Collection, OHS).

Left to right: Lottie, Czarina, and Mike Conlan
(21842.5, Alleen Selken Bell Becker Collection , OHS).


Oklahoma historian Czarina Colbert Conlan, daughter of James Allen Colbert (Chickasaw) and Athenius Madeline Folsom Colbert (Choctaw), was born on January 14, 1871, near Colbert Station, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory. She received her primary education in the Chickasaw schools near Colbert Station. Her studies continued at St. Francis Xavier Academy in Denison, Texas. She also attended Baird College in Clinton, Missouri, and Mary Baldwin Seminary, in Staunton, Virginia.

On November 6, 1894, in Colbert, Indian Territory (I.T.), Czarina Colbert married Michael Conlan, from Black River Falls, Wisconsin. He worked variously as a rancher and banker and served as mayor of Atoka and Lindsay, I.T. They had one daughter, Lottie Athenius Conlan, an art teacher for Oklahoma City high schools.

From 1919 to circa 1943 Czarina Conlan worked as a curator for the American Indian history department at the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). Before and during her tenure at OHS she toured museums in Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Throughout her twenty-four-year service she preserved many of Oklahoma’s American Indian artifacts and tribal history. In 1913 she was tasked to collect documents and items from various Oklahoma tribes to be included in a Century Chest, to be opened in 2013. On October 1, 1920, the Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City) announced that she served as president of a committee representing the OHS to collect the history of Oklahoma’s war efforts during World War I. Through this work she garnered World War I Choctaw Code Talker Joseph Oklahombi’s U.S. Army gear and other artifacts for the society.

Czarina Conlan actively participated in numerous clubs and organizations. She was a life member of the Oklahoma Historical Society. While living in Atoka, she helped organize the Pioneer Club on March 3, 1896, reportedly the first women’s club organized in Indian Territory. In 1896 Conlan served as the first president of the Federation of Women’s Clubs of Indian Territory and was the sole delegate to the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention held in 1899 in Los Angeles, California. For twelve years she chaired the Indian Welfare Committee of the Federation of Women’s Clubs of Indian Territory. On November 3, 1908, the federation of women’s clubs in Indian and Oklahoma territories combined membership and formed the Oklahoma Federation of Women’s Clubs. Conlan served as vice president of the new organization. She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Oklahoma Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She was active in the First Presbyterian Church of Oklahoma.

In 1905 the family moved to Lindsay, where she joined the Lindsay Literary Club. Reportedly, she was the first woman in Oklahoma elected to a school board, serving two years as secretary of the Lindsay school board. Five years later the family moved to Oklahoma City, where she joined the New Century Club.

A Democrat, in 1914 Czarina Conlan ran unsuccessfully for state commissioner of charities and corrections, a position held by Catherine “Kate” Barnard. Following the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment (granting women suffrage) to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, in 1921 a League of Women Voters was officially organized in Oklahoma City. Conlan was elected treasurer. Between 1926 and 1936 she served as historian and secretary of the Society of Oklahoma Indians. In April 1928 at a convention of the Choctaw and Chickasaw, she was the only woman selected to serve on a seven-member delegation to Washington, D.C., to discuss the pending legislation on Indian affairs.

For her many accomplishments she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1935. Noted New York-based artist Stanislav Remski painted Conlan’s portrait, which was donated to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1939. Czarina Colbert Conlan died on May 5, 1958, in Oklahoma City. She was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City near her husband and daughter.

Linda D. Wilson

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Learn More

“Czarina Colbert Conlan,” Interview, Indian-Pioneer Papers Collection, vol. 19, no. 1417, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

“Czarina Colbert Conlan,” Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

“Mrs. Michael Conlan,” Vertical File, Oklahoma Room, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma City.

Tara Damron, “Notes and Documents: In the Shadows of the Century Chest: Message to Future Generations,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 91 (Fall 2013).

Mrs. T. G. [Inez] Gibson and Mrs. J. C. [Nina] Pond, History of Oklahoma State Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1898–1969 (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma State Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1969).

Harlow’s Weekly (Oklahoma City), 14 October 1921 and 7 April 1928.

Luretta Rainey, History of Oklahoma State Federation of Women’s Club (Guthrie, Ok: Cooperative Publishing Co., 1939).

Matt Reed, “Notes and Documents: Artifacts from American Indian World War I Soldiers,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 95 (Spring 2017).

J. G. Sanders, comp., Who’s Who Among Oklahoma Indians (Oklahoma City, OK: Trave Company Publishers, 1928).

Tushkahomman, the Red Warrior (Stroud, OK), 26 March 1935 and 11 February 1936.

Related Resources

Czarina Conlan Collection, The Gateway to Oklahoma History


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Conlan, Czarina Colbert,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=CO089.

Published April 19, 2024

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