Centennial Buffalo

State Centennial

November 16, 2007 The Oklahoma Capitol Complex and Centennial Commemoration Commission was formed in 1998 to plan the state’s celebration of its 100th year. Nearly 1,000 projects were completed through the Centennial Commission’s $31 million in funding, including decorating downtown Oklahoma City with almost 100 uniquely painted buffalo statues, helping fund a USS Oklahoma memorial…

Bombing Memorial

Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building

April 19, 1995 On the morning of April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City was destroyed in a terrorist attack when a bomb exploded, killing 168 people. The Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum was created to remember those who were killed, those who survived, and those changed forever. To…

Spiro Mounds

Spiro Mounds Archaeological State Park

May 9, 1978 The Spiro Mounds Archaeological State Park opened to the public on May 9, 1978. It is the first and only prehistoric American Indian archaeological site in Oklahoma open to the public. Between 850 and 1450 A. D., a Caddoan-speaking Mississippian culture stretched from the Atlantic coast to the Rocky Mountains. The land…

Carl-Albert-cropped

Carl Albert

January 21, 1971 Carl Albert began his post as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives on January 21, 1971, the highest elected public office held by an Oklahoman. Albert served as Speaker from 1971 to 1976, and he presided over Congress during the Watergate scandal. Twice during the proceedings Albert was second in…

Studio portrait of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy

The Kennedys visit Oklahoma

November 14, 1959 Oklahoma’s sixteenth governor (1959-1963), J. Howard Edmondson, and his wife, Jeanette Edmondson, were personal friends of the Kennedys. In November 1959, John and Jackie visited Oklahoma to attend a football game and the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner with the Edmondsons. Original correspondence from the Kennedys about this trip is available on Digital Prairie….

Prohibition-law-by-Haskell

Prohibition is repealed

April 7, 1959 Oklahoma, a dry state since the beginning, included the prohibition of alcohol in its original 1907 Constitution. Oklahoma’s first governor, Charles N. Haskell, and several subsequent governors were strong supporters of prohibition. However, Oklahomans voted on April 7, 1959 to repeal prohibition and create the Alcohol Control Board (later renamed the Alcohol…

Clara Luper boarding a bus

First Sit-In

August 19, 1958 Renowned civil rights activist and teacher Clara Luper, advisor for the Oklahoma City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), led her students into the segregated Katz drugstore. They sat at the counter, taking up the seats, as they waited to have their order taken. The sit-in was successful, and…

Oklahoma! song

State song changed to “Oklahoma!”

September 5, 1953 After the popularity of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical Oklahoma!, Oklahoma State Representative George Nigh (later the 22nd governor of Oklahoma) introduced a bill to change the state song to the main title from the musical. Governor Raymond Gary approved the bill on September 5, 1953. Prior to this, the official state…

Ada Sipuel Fisher signing the register of attorneys, 1952

Civil Rights Activist Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher

January 12, 1948 The United States Supreme Court ruled on January 12, 1948 in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma that Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher must have the same opportunities as other Oklahomans to earn a legal education in Oklahoma. Fisher became the first black student admitted to the University of Oklahoma’s College of…

A chorale performing songs from Oklahoma! at the Oklahoma City premiere of the film in 1956.

Oklahoma! premieres in NYC

March 31, 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Oklahoma! premiered at the St. James Theater in New York City on March 31, 1943. The wildly popular musical was made into a movie by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1955. According to Dianna Everett in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, “general consensus remains that the musical has done…

Aerial View of Tinker Air Force Base

World War II

September 1, 1939 After the success of the Native American code talkers in World War I, the United States army recruited seventeen Comanches from Oklahoma to develop an unbreakable Comanche language code. This code was used to transmit messages through telephone and radio transmissions on Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion in France. The code…

WPA / New Deal Projects

May 6, 1935 In response to the prolonged Great Depression, the U. S. Congress created the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Their aim was to employ as many people as possible to build lasting projects that would benefit local communities. The WPA was especially impactful in Oklahoma- 119,000 of 166,000 Oklahomans certified for the program was…

“The blackest and worst of the many Dust Storms of recent weeks brought in on the rolling cloud that bore down on the Oklahoma panhandle and neighboring states late Sunday afternoon,” Daily Oklahoman, April 15, 1935.

The Dust Bowl

April 14, 1935 The Dust Bowl is considered the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. In the 1930s, a severe drought combined with poor farming practices and economic depression, led to severe wind erosion of the topsoil, affecting portions of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. By 1938, 5 inches of topsoil was…

US-Route-66 Postcards

Construction begins on Route 66

November 11, 1926 Construction began on U.S. Route 66. Often called, “The Main Street of America,” the highway was meant to link towns and people across America. The highway served as a primary route for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl. It holds a significant place in American popular culture, memorialized in…

Oklahoma Flag

New State Flag Adopted

April 2, 1925 The Oklahoma State Legislature adopted a new design for the state flag on April 2, 1925. Depicting an Osage shield with a calumet (peace pipe), olive branch, crosses, and eagle feathers, artist Louise Funk Fluke created the design to symbolize a people united by peace. The word Oklahoma was added in 1941….

Tulsa-Race-Massacre 1921

Tulsa Race Massacre

May 31, 1921 The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred on May 31 – June 1, 1921, when mobs of white people attacked and destroyed the Greenwood residential and business district, a prospering black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Massacre occurred when a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman in a downtown elevator. The…

Suffrage 1919-1920

Suffrage

November 5, 1918 The 19th Amendment guaranteed all American women the right to vote in all elections in the United States. It was ratified on August 20, 1920. On November 5, 1918, Oklahoma voters ratified a universal woman suffrage amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution. Passing by 25,428 votes, Oklahoma was the 21st state to grant women…

St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during the Influenza epidemic

Influenza Epidemic

September 26, 1918 In 1918, a deadly outbreak of influenza, known as the “Spanish flu”, had made it’s way from army camps in Europe to the United States of America. Fall saw Oklahoma hit especially hard, forcing the closure of schools, churches, and gatherings. In Oklahoma, state officials reported the first cases of the influenza in Tulsa and…

Green Corn Rebellion

Green Corn Rebellion

August 2, 1917 As the United States entered World War I, Germany began closing off European markets to United States exports. The resulting recession in prices exacerbated existing problems between poor tenant farmers and wealthy landowners in rural Oklahoma. These tensions mixed with anti-war sentiment and came to a head in 1917 when tenant farmers…

Choctaw-Code-Talkers, Courtesy of the Choctaw Nation.

World War I

July 28, 1914 World War I had a profound impact on the people of Oklahoma. Agriculturalists experienced a steep drop in prices for their goods, followed by a sharp increase as the Allies relied on their crops. Anti-war sentiment most prominent in the Green Corn Rebellion gave way to enthusiastic patriotism. Oklahoma Native Americans were…

Capitol Construction

State Capital moves from Guthrie to Oklahoma City

June 11, 1910 Governor Charles Haskell called a special election on June 11, 1910 to determine where the state capital should be located. The public overwhelmingly voted for Oklahoma City (96,261 votes), with Guthrie coming in second (31,301 votes) and Shawnee last (8,402 votes). The Huckins Hotel was the temporary offices for state government until…

President Teddy Roosevelt Signing Statehood Proclamation by Mike Wimmer

Oklahoma Becomes a State

November 16, 1907 Oklahoma became the 46th state following several acts that incorporated more and more Indian tribal land into U.S. territory. “Oklahoma is now a state,” declared Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, as he signed Presidential Proclamation 780 at 10:16 on the morning of November 16, 1907. Housed in the historical records…

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1906

Constitutional Convention

November 20, 1906 After the Enabling Act of 1906 allowed Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory to become a single state, 112 elected delegates met in Guthrie from November 20, 1906 until March 15, 1907. The delegates, led by William “Alfalfa Bill” H. Murray, drafted a constitution which the public approved in September 1907. The Internet…

University of Oklahoma 1907

State Colleges and Universities Founded

December 19, 1890 Only months after the Organic Act established Indian and Oklahoma Territories, the First Oklahoma Territorial Legislature founded three public universities- the University of Oklahoma in Norman on Dec. 19, 1890, Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater on Dec. 25, 1890, and Central State Normal School (now the University of Central…

Map of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories, 1892

Organic Act of 1890

May 2, 1890 The Organic Act of 1890 created separate Oklahoma and Indian Territories, outlined the provisions of a territorial government, and set aside land in every township for public schools. The full text of the Organic Act is available on the Library of Congress’ website. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture has an…

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