Events in Oklahoma Through the Years

  • Trail of Tears, painting by Robert Lindneux, 1942
    May 1830
    May 28, 1830 The Indian Removal Act led to the Cherokee Trail of Tears and other forced relocation marches. The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands which is today’s southeastern United States. This act led...
  • Washington Irving: A Tour of the Prairies
    Oct 1832
    October 8, 1832 Washington Irving recounts his frontier adventure in his book, A Tour on the Prairies. In autumn 1832, author Washington Irving embarked on a month-long journey through Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Irving, author of well known stories such as Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, described details about his trek in the book he called A Tour...
  • Map of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories, 1892
    May 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 entry on the Organic Act....
  • Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1906
    Nov 1906
    November 20, 1906 Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 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....
  • President Teddy Roosevelt Signing Statehood Proclamation by Mike Wimmer
    Nov 1907
    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. President Teddy Roosevelt Signing Statehood Proclamation by Mike Wimmer Housed...
  • Capitol Construction
    Jun 1910
    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 the Capitol building was completed...
  • Suffrage 1919-1920
    Nov 1918
    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 the right to vote. Women...
  • Tulsa-Race-Massacre 1921
    May 1921
    May 31, 1921 Destruction of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the 1921 Race Massacre. 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...
  • Oklahoma Flag
    Apr 1925
    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. Oklahoma Flag The Oklahoma Statutes,...
  • US-Route-66 Postcards
    Nov 1926
    November 11, 1926 Construction began on U.S. Route 66 on November 11, 1926. 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 books,...
  • “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.
    Apr 1935
    April 14, 1935 “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 is considered the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. In the 1930s, a severe drought combined with...
  • A chorale performing songs from Oklahoma! at the Oklahoma City premiere of the film in 1956.
    Mar 1943
    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 more to improve the state's...
  • Ada Sipuel Fisher signing the register of attorneys, 1952
    Jan 1948
    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 Law, paving the way for...
  • Oklahoma! song
    Sep 1953
    September 5, 1953 The first official song of the State of Oklahoma was Oklahoma: A Toast until the song was changed to Oklahoma! in 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...
  • Prohibition-law-by-Haskell
    Apr 1959
    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 Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission) to...
  • Studio portrait of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy
    Nov 1959
    November 14, 1959 John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy. 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...
  • Carl-Albert-cropped
    Jan 1971
    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 line to the presidency. Portrait...
  • Bombing Memorial
    Apr 1995
    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. The Field of Empty Chairs at...
  • Centennial Buffalo
    Nov 2007
    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 at Pearl Harbor, and adding...

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