Willena Wood Union High School Memory Book

Welcome back, TU students! I hope this blog post finds you and yours happy and healthy. I spent most of my summer tucked away in my home, doing yoga and tending to my garden (does anybody need any okra? I have prolific okra plants…). I am excited to be back at the McFarlin Library working again and I am looking forward to classes next week.

Going back to school looks a different this year and I find myself often thinking about the elementary and high school students whose lives are so different now. As I was in the archives this week, something caught my eye that made me think about being in secondary school. Nestled in one box on our quiet shelves sits the Willena Wood Union High School Memory Book (2013.056). Wood was a Tulsa resident and a Union Student who graduated in 1927. She created this memory book and it contains photographs and memorabilia from her time as a student.

Envelope with gold decorative seal. Under the envelope is a cursive caption reading "Union HS Invitation from 1926 and some of their cards"

The first page of the scrapbook

For those that are not from Tulsa, Union Public Schools is a public school system that began in 1919 when four rural communities consolidated to form one school district. The first graduating class consisted of four students. Wood’s class of 1927 graduated with seven students, almost double their inaugural graduation less than ten years prior! Her memory book contains the commencement programs and invitations for 1924-1927, the years that she attended high school. I noticed that the programs include “class flower”, which is a beautiful sentiment. Do you remember having a class flower?

As Tulsa grew, so did the district. I was a Union student like Wood, however I graduated in 2012 with well over 1,100 students and Union is one of the largest school districts in Tulsa. I bet that my commencement looked a little bit different than hers did!

Photograph of an invitation to a high school graduation

Woods Invitation for her High School Graduation

Photograph of the inside of a commencement program

Commencement program

Photograph of an invitation to a graduation in the year 2012

My High School graduation invitation from Union in 2012








In addition to commencement programs, there are pages in the front of the album with the names and addresses of her friends at the time. Many of the addresses are simply “Route 1” or “Route 2”. Some of the names also have notes about what the students went on to do after graduating high school. It seems reminiscent of a yearbook in this way, and seeing these memories all tucked away in one place seems so neat and tidy.

Following commencement pages is a scrapbook of photographs from her travels with her family and friends. Most photos contain handwritten captions and some of them are pretty silly!

Black and white photograph of a woman standing in front of foliage laughing and looking at the camera

The handwritten caption on this photograph reada “Teehee! HA! HA!”

A black and white photograph of a group of people posing for the camera

It is so easy to begin this school year by thinking that everything is so different and that our college experience will somehow be wrong or less fun because of our new circumstances. A quick glance at our archives will show us that times have always been changing and that each experience is no less important or unique than another.

If you’re interested in viewing items in our collections, TU affiliates are welcome to make an appointment to come by and have a look. You can request an appointment by emailing speccoll@utulsa.edu. Non-affiliates are always welcome to peruse our online collections or request research scans of materials that are not digitized. Remember to wear your mask!

About Kelsey Hildebrand

Kelsey is GA in the Special Collections department currently pursuing a Master's in Museum Science and Management.
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