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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


With the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, each state established a State Historic Preservation Office to administer the federal preservation programs within its state, including development and maintenance of an archaeological and architectural/historic resources survey and inventory. Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory (OLI) is the Oklahoma Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office's (SHPO) compilation of information about buildings, sites, districts, structures, objects, and landscapes under the federal preservation programs.

The OLI includes thousands of entries and is continuously expanded and updated. Not only does the SHPO generate information for the OLI, but the SHPO also receives material from other government agencies, nonprofit organizations, preservation professionals, and the general public for inclusion in the collection. The OLI houses data for properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, listed in the State Register of Historic Places, determined ineligible for either register, and unevaluated properties. The OLI is maintained in a paper file organized on a geographical basis and in a searchable computerized database.

In 1957 the Twenty-Sixth Oklahoma Legislature appropriated funding to the Oklahoma Historical Society to survey historic sites and develop recommendations for acquisition and preservation of significant resources. Five hundred fifty properties were identified in the special project. The results of the 1958 survey formed the basis of the OLI, and the SHPO began its work to increase the documentation of Oklahoma's archaeological and historic resources. In accordance with requirements of the federal program the SHPO published the OLI from 1970 through 1976. However, the requirement was suspended as it became physically and financially infeasible for the SHPO to publish the rapidly developing inventories.

The Oklahoma SHPO's primary method for adding to the OLI is through its comprehensive survey program carried out in cooperation with universities, nonprofit organizations, and local governments. Beginning in 1977 the SHPO entered into contracts with the Oklahoma State University Department of History and Department of Geography and the Museum of the Great Plains (Lawton) to identify on a county-by-county basis properties that appeared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and to record them for the OLI. The SHPO also initiated cooperative agreements with the Oklahoma Archeological Survey to identify archaeological sites and assess their National Register eligibility.

In the early 1980s several thematic survey projects further increased the numbers and types of properties in the OLI. The petroleum industry, agriculture, coal mining, travel on Route 66, and the Works Progress Administration are a few of the themes represented in the OLI. The University of Oklahoma College of Architecture, the University of Tulsa Department of Anthropology, and several municipal governments worked with the SHPO to produce information for the collection.

The OLI is Oklahoma's most comprehensive collection of information about historic buildings, districts, structures, sites, objects, and landscapes. In addition to the SHPO staff's daily use of the material, other government agency personnel, preservation professionals, and individuals regularly consult the OLI for their research conducted for projects ranging from development of complex, federally assisted construction work which must comply with the National Historic Preservation Act to publication of tourist information brochures.

Melvena Heisch


LeRoy H. Fischer, "The Historic Preservation Movement in Oklahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 57 (Spring 1979).

Melvena Thurman Heisch, "Development and Use of the Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 78 (Fall 2000).

Historic Contexts, Oklahoma's Historic Preservation Planning Process (Historic Component), State Historic Preservation Office, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Historic Contexts, Oklahoma's Comprehensive Preservation Planning Process (Prehistoric Component), Oklahoma Archeological Survey, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

"Oklahoma Historic Sites Survey," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 36 (Autumn 1958).

State Historic Preservation Office, Tomorrow's Legacy: Oklahoma's Statewide Preservation Plan (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2000).

Don G. Wyckoff and Robert L. Brooks, Oklahoma Archeology: A 1981 Perspective of the State's Archaeological Resources, Their Significance, Their Problems and Some Proposed Solutions (Norman: Oklahoma Archeological Survey, 1983).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Melvena Heisch, “Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=OK061.

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