1800–present (bulk 1890–1945)
The Manuscript Archives include paper items created by businesses or individuals. Some collections contain documents of a personal nature and some were generated from a specific business or industry. The types of items are letters, diaries, and scrapbooks, personal memoirs, biographies, business records and ledgers, research for books and articles, drafts of books and articles. Ephemera such as advertisements, brochures for events or organizations and travel memorabilia are also found. Oversize collections include architectural renderings and plans, maps, posters, and certificates. The archives contain more than 2,500 collections ranging in size from one item to seventy-five boxes or more. Spanning more than one thousand linear feet of shelf space, the collection contains nearly one million pages.
Search the Manuscript Archives
To search by keyword or view a complete listing of collections, visit the archives section of the online catalog. For help searching the catalog, see the Search Guide (PDF). A list of finding aids by collection is available online.
Manuscript Collection Guides by Topic
Use the guides below to explore collections by topic. All guides are in PDF format.
African American History
Civilian Conservation Corps
The Constitutional Convention and
The Equal Rights Amendment
Film, the Film Industry, and Television
Legal and Judicial Collections
Medicine and Doctors
Missions and Missionaries
Native Americans (general topics)
Native Americans (by tribe)
Prisoners of War
Sequoyah Convention and the
Proposed State of Sequoyah
Space and Astronauts
World War I
World War II
Document Retrieval in the Research Center
The holdings of the Manuscript Archives are non-circulating and must be viewed in the Research Center. Finding aids for manuscript materials are available by searching our online catalog. Manuscript materials can be requested in the Research Center for viewing Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Requests for materials to be viewed on Saturday must be made in advance. Patrons viewing manuscript materials will need to complete a patron registration form (PDF).
If you are traveling to the Oklahoma History Center for a research visit, you are encouraged to contact the manuscript archivist in advance of your trip. OHS staff will prepare materials in advance of your visit if you provide the date and time of your arrival, and the collection and box numbers of the materials you wish to view. Complete the patron registration form (PDF) to prepare for your visit.
Handling manuscript items in the Research Center requires the use of cotton gloves, which are provided. No bags, purses, or computer cases are allowed in the viewing room. Lockers are available free of charge to stow your personal items. You may take a notebook or laptop into the viewing room for note-taking. No ink pens or markers are allowed; pencils are provided. Copies are $.20 per page and can be paid for with cash or credit card at the reference desk.
The use of digital cameras without a flash is permitted in the Research Center and the viewing room. The use of flatbed scanners and wand scanners is prohibited. Requests for duplications can be accepted during your visit and will be made for you by OHS staff for $.25 per page. We cannot guarantee immediate duplication services; duplications may be mailed or delivered electronically within one week of your visit.
Please see the visitor info page for more details. Orders for copies of records will be filled as they are received; see the orders section below.
Orders and Fees
Materials from the Manuscript Archives are available for duplication either by photocopy or a digital scan. Requests for copies can be made in person, by phone or email, or on our website. The collection number, name, and box and folder numbers are required for duplication requests to be processed. Duplications can be delivered by postal mail or electronically.
A general request for research can also be made for OHS staff to research our collections on your topic. Research requests are filled in the order they are received and may take up to four weeks to process. OHS staff will research your topic archives for up to two hours and submit to you a page count of materials available for duplication. The research fee includes twenty pages of duplications; additional pages are $.25 per page. All duplications are approved by you before any additional fee is incurred.
Our staff will search for a maximum of three topics per request. If you know the accession number for the items you wish to have copied, please include the number in your order.
|Research Fee: Oklahoma resident||$25|
|Research Fee: Out-of-state resident||$35|
|Copies||$.25 per page|
|Digital files/scans |
(up to 8.5″x14″)
|$3 per scan|
|Digitization processing fee||$5 per order (if applicable)|
The Manuscript Archives accept original documents such as letters or business files. Please see the Research Division Collection Policy for specific details. Donations containing multiple formats such as photographs, film, or audio, are welcome as a complete donation. The Manuscript Archives does not accept duplicate copies of publications, copies of materials held by other libraries or archives, or records of people or events in other states or countries.
Contact the Manuscript Archives
Inquiries regarding manuscript collections should be directed to:
Mallory Covington, manuscript archivist
- What does the term "manuscript" mean? I thought it was for book publishing.
The term manuscript is also a literary name for a work submitted for publishing, but the usage for the archives is:
"any text in handwriting or typescript (including printed forms completed by hand or typewriter) which may or may not be part of a collection of such texts. Examples of manuscripts are letters, diaries, ledgers, minutes, speeches, marked or corrected galley or page proofs, manuscript books, and legal papers."
Defined by: Hensen, Steven L. "Archives, Personal Papers, and Manuscripts: A Cataloging Manual for Archival Repositories, Historical Societies, and Manuscript Libraries" – 2nd ed. (Society of American Archivists, 1989).
- I have a bunch of old letters from my parents or grandparents. They weren't famous—would the OHS still want them?
Yes, the OHS archives are dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of all people in Oklahoma, not just those who were well-known. The stories of everyday life in Oklahoma, during any time period, are worth preserving.
- If I donate something to the archive, can my family members or I come see it later?
Yes, all materials donated to the OHS are property of the State of Oklahoma and therefore are public record. There is never a fee for visiting our Research Center to view materials.
Keeping family treasures on paper is easy if you follow a few basic guidelines:
- Do not store your paper items in a shed or outbuilding
- Do not store your paper items in direct sunlight
- Do not laminate your paper items
If you wish to have an item on display, have it scanned and print a color copy for framing. You can also visit a framing store to discuss various options using protective glass. Ask for UV protective or museum quality glass.
For more information, please see these online resources:
- National Archives http://www.archives.gov/preservation/family-archives/
- Northeast Document Conservation Center http://www.nedcc.org/resources/family.php
The holdings of the Manuscript Archives are diverse in content; collections range from personal letters sent home during wartime, legal records of land disputes following land openings, diaries of missionaries, meeting minutes and ephemera from local philanthropic or ancestral clubs, and much more. The following are only a few examples of the many valuable papers found in the unique holdings.
2007.110 Jake and Joan Diggs Collection
The Jake and Joan Diggs Collection consists of family papers from 1944-to 2004, focusing on the lives and careers of Jake and Joan Diggs. The papers include business and personal correspondence, financial and legal documents, ephemera, and administrative documents relating to Jake Diggs’s position as an educator, coach, and principal of Frederick Douglass High School and U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City. The collection also includes Joan Diggs’s role as supervisor for the University of Oklahoma food services. The collection documents the evolution of Douglass and U.S. Grant High Schools during the enactment of the Finger Plan for integration in the 1970s through newspaper articles, school administrative documents, and personal correspondence relating to Jake Diggs’s reaction as the principal of U.S. Grant to the race-related violence that occurred at the school in September of 1975. Yearbooks and publications from both Douglass and U.S. Grant High Schools and items relating to their respective class reunions contribute to the collection’s reflection of life at Oklahoma schools, primarily between 1950 and 1979.
Search our index of funeral programs, which includes items from this collection.
2004.001 Oklahoma War Memorial Collection
The Oklahoma War Memorial Collection houses individual files on men from Oklahoma who served and lost their lives in World War II. Most of the files, which are arranged alphabetically by last name, contain newspaper clippings and biographical information sent by the families to the Oklahoma Historical Society. There is also an extensive collection of newspaper clippings, arranged alphabetically by county, relating to war bonds, headlines, and soldiers from Oklahoma who were killed or missing in action. The collection also contains press releases from the US government, books, and other published material relating to the war and soldiers.
Search an index of military casualties from this collection.
2014.056 Red Dirt Women: The E.R.A. Campaign in Oklahoma
This collection contains research material on the Equal Rights Amendment in Oklahoma, including correspondence, newspaper clippings, organizational ephemera, and government documents.