Oklahoma history consists of the ebb and flow of humankind from a variety of diverse cultures. During the early 19th century, no less than 64 distinct Indian tribes were removed from points around the country and resettled in Indian Territory Oklahoma. The Five Civilized Tribes once removed were drawn into the Civil War. In the latter half of the 19th century, non Indian settlement began to overtake the lands of the various tribes. With the various land openings to settlement by non Indians, Oklahoma Territory was created and Statehood occurred in 1907. The development of oil and gas industry began in earnest during the first part of the 20th century. The Depression era depleted the population of the state, but those who stayed helped build a better Oklahoma, said William Welge, Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society Archives Division.
This was the first newspaper, per se, published in Indian Territory, It was printed in both English and Cherokee with the first issue being published on September 26, 1844, Publication was suspended several times, the first being in 1851 or 1852 due to funding; after the Civil War publication was resumed in April of 1870, again using volume 1, number 1. A fire at the plant interrupted publication 1875, from that point the Cherokee Advocate continued until 1907 when tribal political difficulties were responsible for its demise.
The first news story published in Oklahoma referred to Professor Morse's rapid long distance communication system the Electro-magnetic Telegraph that operates between Baltimore and Washington D.C, a distance of 33 miles. One hundred fifty two years later the Oklahoma Newspaper Project posts its first news on today's rapid long distance communication system, the World Wide Web. Morse began just prior to the National Democratic Convention (1844) while the Oklahoma Newspaper Project begins on the web just prior to the National Democratic Convention (1996).
The Morse story was highlighted by this statement: "By means of this Telegraph, every new movement of the Convention was made known at Washington almost simultaneously with its occurrence; while with the same rapidity the proceedings of Congress were made known at Baltimore". Lastly, the article mentioned: "Telegraph would be of great importance in case of war". Was it?
Newspapers have chronicled the lives, fortunes, and major episodes in
Oklahoma's history since September, 1844, when the first edition of the
Cherokee Advocate was published. Our newspapers brought us words of hope
and news of tragedy, the charms of a simple daily life and the drama of
This heritage is literally fading away. As vital and valuable newspapers are for researchers and historians, newspapers also are extremely vulnerable to destruction through neglect or decay. Once these barometers of specific times and places disappear, they will be gone forever.
Recapturing the drama and spirit of these printed "snapshots"
of moments in history is the goal of the Oklahoma Newspaper Project, which
is itself a component of the United States Newspaper Project--a campaign
to catalog and preserve forever the history of newspaper publishing in the
This nation-wide project is funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities
To date, forty-seven states and two territories have participated in the U.S. Newspaper Project, an endeavor to preserve the history found in the estimated 250,000 U.S. newspapers published since 1590.
The Oklahoma Newspaper Project will make a significant contribution to
the preservation of, and access to, newspaper resources in Oklahoma.
Staff members will travel the highways and back roads of Oklahoma to find, evaluate, and catalog every small town and big city newspaper that ever put out at least one issue. The Oklahoma Historical Society currently has 3,225 newspaper titles on microfilm. As a result of this project, the staff expects to locate additional titles--reaching a total of 4,500 at the end of the project.
While much of the effort will be to find newspapers that have never been preserved, the project also will catalog newspapers currently located in local libraries or historical institutions, publishers' offices, and private collections throughout Oklahoma. The project also welcomes non-Oklahoma newspapers.
In July of 1990 the Oklahoma Historical Society was awarded a planning grant for $17,996 (#PS-203530-90) by the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) which was extended for an additional three months. During the Planning Phase, identification of newspaper title holdings (both print and microfilm copies) throughout the state was performed through newspaper questionnaires. These questionnaires were sent to newspaper publishers and/or editors, libraries, county clerks, and museums or historical institutions. The results of the surveys were compared with the listed holdings of the Oklahoma Historical Society. It was determined from these results that 85% of all of the newspapers ever published in Oklahoma were already preserved on microfilm at the OHS, The Oklahoma Press Association was instrumental in this vast collection.
Cooperation in the planning phase has included extensive use of the facilities of the OHS Newspaper Department, the OHS library and the University of Oklahoma School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Cooperation also has included extensive work in listing publications by the University of Oklahoma, the University of the Oklahoma Western History Collection, the Oklahoma State University Library, the No Man's Land Museum at Goodwell, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum at Muskogee, the Pioneer Woman Museum at Ponca City, the Museum of the Western Prairie at Altus, and the libraries of the University of Central Oklahoma, Northeastern State University and the Southeastern State University.
In July of 1992, the OHS was awarded another grant by the NEH for $574,311 (#PS- 20560-92) for a three year period which was extended through April of 1997 for an additional $150,000. The purpose of the grant funding was to: inventory the entire microfilm collection (consisting of over 29,000 reels of microfilm) at the OHS and other major repositories throughout the State; catalog all newspaper titles and create local data records on the OCLC database; and to locate, retrieve, and microfilm all copies of Oklahoma newspapers which were not previously preserved on microfilm. This effort has involved both cataloging and site visits, which have been performed on a county-by-county basis. To date, thirty counties have been visited by staff members, 44 (of 77) counties have been inventoried and cataloged, and over 348,000 pages (360 plus roles) of newsprint have been retrieved, prepared, microfilmed, and returned to the loaners.