Commemoration of Tulsa Race Massacre

Today we recognize the 101 year commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. During the atrocities, 35 blocks of the prospering Black neighborhood of Greenwood were burned and destroyed by white mobs. Hundreds of people were murdered and thousands were left homeless. The event remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history. For many decades, this massacre was kept quiet. McFarlin Library Special Collections houses materials related to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. This online exhibit is designed to show the photographs and newspaper materials that have been collected by and donated to the department over the decades. The gallery can be found here, 

Be aware that some images depict dead bodies and extreme graphic mutilation. They are included because the events of the 1921 Massacre were real and deserve our respectful attention.

“Little Africa on Fire, Tulsa Race Riot, June 1, 1921” Coll. No. 1989-004-5-02


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Special Collections Director I. Marc Carlson, 1962-2022

Special Collections and University Archives is sad to announce that our department director, I. Marc Carlson, died on May 21st, 2022, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Marc worked at McFarlin Library for more than thirty-five years, spending fifteen of those in the archives. He loved his work dearly and was devoted to research in the areas of local and state history, with a special emphasis on historical shoemaking, the preservation of indigenous history, and the Tulsa Race Massacre.

He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues.

His obituary with more information about memorial services may be found here.

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The Tribes of North America

Today we are focusing on the illustrated history of some of the Tribes of North America. Let’s celebrate the thriving culture that has prevailed to the current day. Be sure to support Native-owned businesses, read books by Indigenous writers, and focus on the Tribes in your area. Educate yourselves and others on Indigenous history and the importance of the land and water that we occupy.

Jim Snell, Cherokee. Dated November 25,1895

Fannie Whirlwind, Cheyenne.

Unidentified children, Hopi.

Unidentified Tribe. Dated August 1970.

Otter Belt, Tosh-A-Wah, and Horseback. Comanche Chiefs.

Luther Samaunt, Kiowa. Dated 1934.

San Ildefonso Pueblo.

Unidentified child.

Bessie Big Owl, Sioux. Dated June 17, 1913.

Unidentified Tribes.

Chinquilla, Southern Cheyenne.

Unidentified dancers, Cherokee.

Skool-Kahs Totem, Haida.

Samuel Checotah, Creek Chief.

If you would like to view more photographs or explore any other part of the Indians of North America historical manuscripts and documents, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open by appointment only Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm. Open to questions at

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Greek tragedian Sophocles (roughly 496 BCE-406 BCE) is one of classical Athens’s great playwrights whose work has survived the test of time. As the younger contemporary of Aeschylus and the older contemporary of Euripides, Sophocles wrote over 120 plays. However, only 7 have survived in a complete form.

Sophocles grew up in the village of Colonus outside of Attica to a wealthy family and received a very high education. His literary career began in 468 BCE at a Dionysian dramatic festival in which he defeated the renowned Aeschylus. Sophocles competed in festivals about 30 times, meaning he wrote around 123 dramas. He never received lower than second place.

Many major and minor dramatic innovations are credited to Sophocles. This includes the addition of a third actor to dramatic performances, deepened character development and character arcs, and the introduction of scenery paintings (credited by Aristotle, though other scholars disagree). His surviving plays include Ajax, Antigone, Trachinian Women, Oedipus the King, Electra, Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus.

At Special Collections, we hold two special editions of Sophocles’ dramas dating 1544 and 1568 CE. Both have text in Greek and titles and commentary in Latin.

PA4413.A2 1568 Wilson

The 1544 edition has the inscription  “formerly belonged to the Rev. Thomas Kidd … and contains a few memoranda in the handwriting of the late Richard Porson, Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Cambridge”.


PA4413 A2 1544

We also have a miniature book of Sophocles plays, measuring 9.5cm by 13.5cm.

PA4413.S6 1891 Connolly Mini

To end, I will leave you with the riddle the Sphinx posed to Oedipus to cross into Thebes and end the plague she set upon the land, thus become king.

“What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?”

If you would like to explore the works of Sophocles we hold at Special Collections, we are open Monday through Friday from 8-4:30pm through appointment only. We are open to questions at


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Former Provost, Joyce scholar, and archival enthusiast Thomas F. Staley has died

Dr. Thomas F. Staley, former Provost, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Chair of Modern Literature at The University of Tulsa, died March 29th, 2022. He was 86 years old.

Born on August 13, 1935 in Pittsburgh, Staley grew up in Tulsa. He earned a master’s in literature from TU and eventually returned to campus to teach literature for 25 years. During that time, he proved to be a champion for Modernist literature and a powerhouse when it came to collecting archival materials and developing McFarlin Library’s Special Collections into the rich trove it is today.

During his time at The University of Tulsa, Staley was known for his charismatic enthusiasm and was instrumental to the acquisition of papers and collections belonging to literary giants. In addition to our James Joyce materials, we are grateful and esteemed to hold the papers of Joyce biographer Richard Ellmann, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, Rebecca West, Anna Kavan, Stevie Smith, D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Dorothy Richardson, and Cyril Connolly. Other collections brought to Special Collections during Dr. Staley’s tenure include materials belonging to Walt Whitman, Siegfried Sassoon, Christopher Isherwood, Robert Graves, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, John Dos Passos, Alice B. Toklas, W.H. Auden, Malcolm Lowry, and Katherine Mansfield.

Along with his teaching duties, many books on Joyce, and campaigning for TU to grow its literary archival collections, Dr. Staley is known for founding the James Joyce Quarterly in 1963. Started in his garage with the help of a few students, the journal has continued publication for nearly 60 years, having gained a well-earned international reputation for insightful articles on Joyce and modern literature.

For those of us who work in Special Collections, we see every day the contributions and passion of Dr. Staley and the many others who have helped grow our holdings over the years. We are privileged to work with items like Rebecca West’s notes on the Nuremburg Trials, to hold James Joyce’s necktie in our hands, and to introduce University of Tulsa students to the world-class archives just upstairs in McFarlin Library.

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Oscar Wilde

St. Patrick’s Day may have passed, but here at Special Collections we are always finding a good reason to celebrate Irish roots. Today we are focusing on Irish poet, playwright, and writer Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. Oscar Wilde was part of the late 19th century aesthetic movement in England, which focused on advocating art for art’s sake. He is remembered most for his comedic plays and single novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Wilde was born in Dublin on October 16, 1854 to a father who was a surgeon and a mother who was a poet and Irish revolutionary. He studied at Trinity College in Dublin as well as Oxford, where he became involved in the aesthetics movement. After graduation, Wilde moved to London where he published his first collection of poetry in 1881, titled Poems. On May 29, 1884, Wilde married Constance Lloyd, a well-read and outspoken daughter of a prominent barrister. They had two sons, Cyril in 1885 and Vyvyan in 1886. The next six years are said to be his most creative, with Wilde becoming editor of a fashionable magazine, Woman’s World, and the publication of his two collections of children’s stories, The Happy Prince and Other Tales in 1888, and The House of Pomegranates in 1892.

By 1889, Wilde had left the editorship of Woman’s World to write his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was met with critical protest. Though the novel is filled with witty dialogue and beautiful descriptive passages, people were appalled by its implied homoerotic themes. Wilde published three more plays between 1893 and 1895, all highly acclaimed and firmly established Wilde as a playwright.

In 1891, Wilde met Oxford undergraduate Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas and they soon became lovers. The two were inseparable until 1895, when Wilde was accused of homosexuality by Douglas’s father, the Marquis of Queensberry, and was arrested. He was found guilty of “gross indecency” and was sentenced to two years of hard labor. While in prison, Wilde composed a letter to Douglas entitled De Profundis an eloquent reflection upon his love turned to bitterness and deep attachment he felt for Douglas. He reflects upon his time in prison and the ridicule he was subjected to with emphasis on the importance of individualism, imagination, self-expression, and self-development. Upon his release, he gave the letter to his close friend and lover Robert Ross to be sent to Douglas and to eventually be published.

After being released, Wilde went on to publish The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1898, a response to the agony he experienced while imprisoned. At the time of his conviction, his wife Constance had taken the two children to Switzerland where they changed their name to “Holland”. Wilde spent the last few years of his life wandering Europe and staying with friends. He died in Paris at the age of 46 on November 30, 1900 from meningitis, due to a reoccurring infection he received while in prison.

Here in Special Collections, we hold a vast amount if information on Oscar Wilde from our collection of Richard Ellmann papers. Ellmann did extensive research on the life and writings of Wilde, which amasses to about 37 boxes of archival information! Included in this collection is even an original letter from Oscar Wilde dated from 1889.

We also house many editions of Wilde’s works, including many early editions from the late 19th century.

To end, I leave you with a passage from Wilde’s De Profundis:

“Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed.  She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”

If you would like to explore the vast collection and works of Oscar Wilde, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm Monday through Friday, available through appointment only. We are open to questions at

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Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras from Special Collections! Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to Pagan celebrations of spring and fertility. This includes the Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia! With the immergence of Christianity, these local traditions were incorporated and became the prelude to Lent, the Christian practice of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. As Christianity spread to other European countries, so did the celebration of Mardi Gras.

The name Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”. Before Christian influences, Mardi Gras was commonly known as “Carnival”, which was also derives from a fasting tradition.  In Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat. Today is all about indulging oneself before the start of a traditional fast. To help celebrate, we pulled some cookbooks from our collections to share recipes dating all the way back to 1723.

TX705.S55 1723

Who doesn’t love a chicken or pigeon pie on a chilly day? This recipe from 1723 proves that chicken pot pie is a classic.

TX705.M36 1750z

Elderberry wine only contained a few ingredients including raisins, water, and juice of elderberries in this recipe from 1750.

TX705. G54 1755

Avocado toast may be all the rage today, but in 1755 it was “brockely” and eggs or asparagus and eggs on toast!

TX717.A186 1845

If you’ve never roasted a pigeon before, which I’m sure few have, we now have a diagram and recipe from 1845 to make sure our game roasts perfectly.

TX725.D68 1952

Though many of us love macaroni, in the 1950s the delicacy was kidney in this beloved dish. Perhaps ask your grandparents if they ever had this treat growing up?

If you would like to find more recipes by exploring our various cookbooks, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm, by appointment only. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at

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Ann Radcliffe

Ann Radcliffe (née Ward) (1764-1823) was an English writer in the 18th century and known as a one of the founders of Gothic fiction. As a writer of the early Romantic period, Ann was a pioneer in the genre of terror and her ability to combine scenes of terror and suspense while maintaining Romantic sensibility.

Ann’s first two novels were published anonymously in 1789 and 1790, but she gained literary fame with her third novel, The Romance of the Forest (1792). By her fourth publication in 1794 of her most famous novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann had become the most popular novelist in England.

Ann published her last work of fiction, The Italian, in 1797 and soon after sold the copyright of The Mysteries of Udolpho for £500 and The Italian for £800. She spent the last 20 years of her life mainly writing poetry. Ann was a leading exponent of the historical Gothic romance and through her work defined a distinct difference between terror and horror. She went on to influence many Gothic writers and had many famous admirers, including Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Christina Rossetti.

Special Collections houses first and third editions of Ann’s novels, including The Romance in the Forest (1792) and Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1796). 


We also have editions of her most famous work, The Myseteries of Udolpho (1794). 

If you would like to explore Ann Radcliffe’s novels, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm, by appointment only. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at

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Laura Riding Jackson

Laura Riding Jackson (1901-1991) was a widely noted poet, essayist, novelist, critic, and writer of short fiction in the 20th century. Born Laura Reichenthal in New York city to Jewish immigrant parents, Laura went on to study at Cornell University where she began her writing career under the pseudonym Laura Riding.

Her poetry was soon praised by the Fugitives, a southern literary group who had a magazine under the same name, and she became the groups only female member. By 1924, Laura moved to England to collaborate with English poet and writer Robert Graves. There she maintained a 12 year relationship with Graves and his wife, in which Laura referred to as “three-life”. Laura and Robert founded The Seizin Press in London in 1927, before moving to Mallorca, Spain. By 1939, Laura had moved back to the states and just a year later renounced writing poetry to pursue what she considered “something better in our linguistic way of life than we have”.


Laura married Schuyler Jackson in 1941, and by 1943 they moved to Wabasso, Florida and bought a small frame home on 11 acres of citrus groves. They spent the remainder of their years organically growing and selling citrus while working on an unprecedented dictionary “in which each word would have only one definition”.  Laura completed her project before her death in 1991, and her book, Rational Meaning: A New Foundation for the Definition of Words and Supplementary Essays, was published in 1997 by University Press of Virginia.


Here in Special Collections, we house many of Laura’s completed works. If you would like to explore her handwritten correspondences and manuscripts, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm, by appointment only. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at

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You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!

Did you know that the beloved musical Oklahoma! was based on a play by Oklahoma’s own Lynn Riggs? Riggs was born on a farm in Claremore in 1899, in what was then known as Indian Territory. His professional career produced 21 full length plays as well as multiple poems and short stories. Green Grow The Lilacs, with it’s title from a nineteenth century folksong of the same name, was published by Riggs in 1931 and was quickly picked up by the Guild Theater (now August Wilson Theatre) in New York City and was first performed on January 26, 1931.

Collection Identifier 1971.004.4


It was performed 64 times on Broadway, touring part of the country. The story is rich in American pioneer history with plenty of pioneer grit and humor, and immediately started getting positive reviews from newspapers all over New York.

Collection Identifier 1971.004.4

Collection Identifier 1971.004.4

The play caught the attention of renowned Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, and they got to work putting music and lyrics to the classic American tale. The musical was first debut on March 31, 1943 at the St. James Theatre in New York City and was soon touring the country.

Collection Identifier 1971.004.14

Collection Identifier 1971.004.14

The musical soon got its film adaptation and was premiered October 11, 1955, starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae.

Lynn Riggs was proud of his Oklahoma roots. The love he held for the land shows in nearly all of his works and is still cherished by Americans today. Riggs lead a rich and complex life. He was part Cherokee, gay, and served in the military during WWII.

If you would like to explore our collection on Lynn Riggs, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at

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