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About The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Creating and Implementing The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture commemorated Oklahoma’s Centennial of Statehood in 2007. The purpose of this work of reference is to provide a thoughtful, scholarly retrospective of the state’s past, in all of its variety. We aim to approach our past and to illuminate our present, by examining and presenting our history in basic, well-established historical themes and topics. Each theme is complemented by cultural, regional, and geographical perspectives. The work encompasses time periods from pre-Columbian through the late twentieth century. We include a diversity of disciplines to provide a rounded portrait of the state’s history, its physical properties, its many peoples, and their collective and individual pursuits. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture synthesizes decades of scholarship and provides a tool for Oklahomans to use in understanding and broadening knowledge of Oklahoma’s heritage.

Planning for the encyclopedia project began in 1998 when Bob L. Blackburn, then Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) deputy executive director, impaneled a Board of Advisors that included professional historians, preservation experts, arts and humanities scholars, and members of the OHS Board of Directors. See Advisory Board. The task of creating the encyclopedia was assigned to the OHS Publications Division, which also publishes the scholarly quarterly journal The Chronicles of Oklahoma and other books.

In the year 2000 the National Endowment for the Humanities invited the Oklahoma Humanities Foundation to participate in a national initiative to create state and regional encyclopedias. As envisioned by NEH Director William Ferris, the fifty states, and various regions would create books that would provide a complete picture of the United States as it developed. Because the OHS was already working on an encyclopedia, the Humanities Foundation graciously passed along the conference invitation, and the encyclopedia staff attended the conference held in Washington, D.C., in June 2000. There, other state encyclopedia project staffs explained the mechanics of the undertaking. In particular, Ron Tyler, director of the Texas State Historical Association and editor-in-chief of The New Handbook of Texas, provided guidance. The staff also consulted with editors and publishers of other, similar reference works.

The first five years of effort, 2001–06, was supported by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities under its Preservation and Access Division’s Reference Materials program. The Oklahoma encyclopedia project became the nation’s sixth to get underway.

Bolstered by NEH funding, the encyclopedia project became a reality. Staff drafted an operational methodology, and a slate of consulting scholars, each an academician of some note, was chosen to assist with content development and help prepare the Criteria for Inclusion that would be applied to each suggested entry. See Consultants. Most of these individuals assisted either by helping to frame the book’s outline of intellectual content or contributing criticisms and refinements to it, by preparing an overview essay for one of the book’s twenty-six themes, and/or by reading entries as authors prepared them. Research and writing of entries began in the year 2001 and continued through 2007. More than five hundred academic scholars and other writers contributed more than 2,400 entries, including articles on each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties and 581 incorporated towns. The name of each contributing author appears at the end of his or her entry.

This decade-long effort could not have been completed without the patient research assistance provided by the staffs of the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Research Division and State Historic Preservation Office, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Carl Albert Congressional Research Center of the University of Oklahoma, and the history faculty of each of Oklahoma’s public universities. To all of them, the encyclopedia project’s staff extends heartfelt and humble gratitude.

Standards and Practices

Because we believe that the encyclopedia will remain Oklahomans’ standard historical reference for years to come, we have adhered to accepted scholarly standards in research, documentation, and presentation. Our policy has been to verify, as far as possible, the factual material in each entry. Authors were requested to footnote their work. This documentation does not appear with the entry; it resides in the files of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture Project Collection in the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Research Division (Manuscript Archives). As far as possible, facts and assertions were cross-checked with the footnoted sources and elsewhere. In print and online, each entry is accompanied by a brief bibliography of material as suggestions for further reading on the subject.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture continues to adhere to scholarly standards for creating and publishing factual and interpretive information. These industry standards may be found in the Internet Digital Encyclopedia Alliance’s white paper, “Toward a Community of Practice: Initial Findings on Best Practices for Digital Encyclopedias” (American Association for State and Local History, 2009–2011).

The editor welcomes general comments on articles and their content. We also appreciate readers who report errors of typography or of fact; errors will be investigated and corrected if correction is required. Recommendations for new entries will also be considered. They will be evaluated within the encyclopedia’s extensive content architecture, which is a multilevel, pyramidal structure of interrelated topics that are significant in the overall understanding of the state’s history.

Ultimate responsibility for and authority in editorial practices and for expansion of the encyclopedia’s intellectual content reside with the editorial staff of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Reporting Errors

We appreciate perceptive readers who want to make The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture a better and constantly evolving source of information. If you would like to make a suggestion or feel that an encyclopedia entry contains an error, please provide your name, email address, and a brief description of the error. We ask that you provide documentation to support the suggested correction. “Documentation” includes articles, book excerpts, or archival documents that contain the presumed correct information. The resources you provide will lead our staff into a process of investigation and a change of the text if necessary.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture in print

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture was published in two volumes by the Oklahoma Historical Society in 2009. Sets of the two volumes are available from the Oklahoma Historical Society and may be purchased in person or online at the OHS website (ISBN 0-941948-75-1).

Copies have been deposited with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries Publications Clearinghouse for distribution to member libraries across the state of Oklahoma.


In 2011 the Oklahoma Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, chose The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture for its prestigious Director’s Award for 2010. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture is one of only five books ever to receive this accolade.

In 2010 the American Library Association’s Government Documents Round Table (ALA-GODORT) designated The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture as a recipient of ALA “Notable Document Award for 2009.”The Encyclopedia was one of only fifteen state documents to receive a Notable Award in 2010.

In 2011 Gov. Mary Fallin issued a Governor’s Commendation to each member of the editorial staff, in recognition of their contribution to State of Oklahoma.

Project Staff

Editor: Dianna Everett, Ph.D.
Assistant Editors (emeritus): Larry O’Dell, Linda D. Wilson, Jon D. May
Staff Writers (emeritus): Cynthia Savage, Thomas Hedglen

Julie Bennett-Jones, 2007
Deah Caldwell, 2009
Suzanne Kelly, 2002
Nathan Wilson, Ph.D., 2003

Advisory Board:
Hon. Bill Anotubby, Ada
Jim Bellatti, Stillwater
Shirley Bellmon, Red Rock
Andy Coats, Norman
Evelyn K. Davis, Oklahoma City
LeRoy Fischer, Stillwater
Lawrence Hart, Clinton
Melvena Heisch, Oklahoma City
Ernest L. Holloway, Langston
Robert B. Kamm, Stillwater
Marvin E. Kroeker, Ada
Paul Lambert, Oklahoma City
George Nigh, Oklahoma City
Donovan L. Reichenberger, Alva
Linda Saferite, Tulsa
Paul Sharp, Norman
Lee Allan Smith, Oklahoma City
Howard F. Stein, Oklahoma City
Paul Strasbaugh, Oklahoma City
James R. Tolbert III, Oklahoma City
Michael Wallis, Tulsa

Pre-Contact Era, Dr. Bob Brooks, Director, Oklahoma Archeological Survey
European Exploration, Dr. Dianna Everett, Oklahoma Historical Society
Civil War Era, Dr. James L. Huston, Professor in History, Oklahoma State University
Westward Expansion, Dr. W. David Baird, Professor in History, Pepperdine University
Territorial Era, Dr. Kenny Brown, Professor in History, University of Central Oklahoma
Twentieth Century, Dr. Brad Agnew, Professor in History, Northeastern Okla. State University
Nineteenth-Century Military History, Dr. Michael Hughes, Professor in History, East Central University
Environment/Cultural Ecology, Dr. Richard Lowitt, Professor in History, University of Oklahoma (ret.)
Natural Resources, Dr. Charles Mankin, Director, Oklahoma Geological Survey
American Indians, Dr. Donald Fixico, Director, Indigenous Nations Studies, University of Kansas
Immigration/Ethnicity, Dr. Don Brown, Prof. in Anthropology, Oklahoma State University, (ret.)
African Americans, Dr. Jimmie L. Franklin, Professor in History, Vanderbilt University
Settlement Patterns, Dr. Don Green, Dean of Liberal Arts, Chadron State College, (ret.)
Agriculture, Dr. Gilbert Fite, University of Arkansas (ret.)
Industry/Business, Dr. Larkin Warner, Professor in Economics, Oklahoma State University (ret.)
Urban Development, Dr. Bob L. Blackburn, Director, Oklahoma Historical Society
Transportation, Dr. William Corbett, Professor in History, Northeastern Okla. State University
Petroleum Industry, Dr. Kenny Franks, Oklahoma Heritage Association (ret.)
Arts/Humanities, Dr. Sally Soelle, Dean of Liberal Arts, Cameron University (ret.)
Religion/Philosophy, Dr. Alvin O. Turner, Dean of Liberal Arts, East Central University (ret.)
Folklife, Dr. Guy Logsdon, Director, Oklahoma Folklife Center, Tulsa
Recreation/Entertainment, Dr. George Carney, Professor in Cultural Geography, Oklahoma State University (ret.)
Government/Politics, Dr. Danney Goble, Professor in Classics and Letters, University of Oklahoma (dec.)
Women, Dr. Linda Reese, Professor in History, University of Oklahoma