Oklahoma Statehood: The History and Anniversary

While scanning some documents, I noticed articles about the anniversary of Oklahoma statehood and realized that the 113th anniversary was this past Monday! This anniversary will be easy to remember since it’s only a few days before my birthday, so to celebrate myself and my still relatively new state, I’m sharing a few photos, mostly from the William Settle Collection, that touch on different aspects of statehood.


Photograph of a newspaper headline that reads "Politics Boiled as Statehood Neared"

This headline hints at so much, especially in retrospective. Politics boiled because Oklahoma, at least as we know it today, shouldn’t even be a state. Indian Territory was opened to white settlement after allotment, and the drive to create the state of Sequoyah would at least mean tribal leaders could retain government as a state, if not individual tribes. Ultimately, Theodore Roosevelt rejected this idea, and signed the Oklahoma Enabling Act that led to the creation of the single state of Oklahoma out of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. The Oklahoma Historical Society has an excellent short article that is well worth reading to find out more.

Photograph of a newspaper headline that reads "Archer Street Structure Predates Statehood"

Despite the fraught politics of statehood, Tulsa was well established and on its way to cementing its reputation as an Oklahoma powerhouse and the oil capital of the world. If I could travel back in time, I would go check out that early ice cream factory (and everything else I possibly could)!

Photograph of a newspaper article headline that reads "Pioneers will Frolic on November 16"

Only 21 years after statehood, and they were already planning the ‘Old Timers Dinner’ to be a “historic affair” which is entertaining. This article was focused on pioneers, settlers, territorial and state governors; it implicitly whitewashes history, but I am extremely curious about the blurb regarding the Seminole Chamber of Commerce in the middle. No matter how white history, especially regarding the Federal Government and U.S. statehood seems, the whole picture is a far more complex and interesting study than we often acknowledge it to be.

Photograph of a newspaper article headline that reads "Opening of Glenn Pool on Nov 22, 1906, Helped Make Tulsa"

This last one is only tangentially related, but the date caught my eye (58 years before JFK’s death, the earliest day Thanksgiving can fall on, and the day after my birthday, among others…the 22nd of November is a surprisingly eventful day). Robert Galbreath, who had found success in Tulsa’s first oil well at Red Fork, and Frank Chesley leased Ida E. Glenn’s allotment land in the Bixby township in April 1904; after a year and a half, they struck “black gold” on November 22, 1905, just two years shy of statehood; once again, the OHS gives a great overview of the event that you can read here. The Glenn pool oil field was a pivotal moment in Tulsa, and Oklahoma, history. Galbreath went on to establish the Red Fork Oil and Gas Company,  and the rest…is history.


If you’d like to see any material related to Oklahoma history, or any of the many other collections we hold, please contact us at speccoll@utulsa.edu for arrangements. We are currently open only to TU students, faculty, and staff by appointments made at least 24 hours in advance. You are also welcome to browse our Catalog and Digital Collections and request photocopies or digital scans of materials through the same email. Kelsey and I fulfill requests as quickly as possible, but especially large requests or a high volume of requests may take us up to 4-6 weeks. We are happy to help you as best we can and we hope that you stay safe and healthy! Happy Thanksgiving!!

This entry was posted in Collections, History, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.