Graduation—The Big Sendoff

When WordPress publishes this post, I will be in the H.A. Chapman field, wearing my cap, gown, and hood and celebrating my graduation from the Museum Science and Management program. I have loved my time at TU and I’m excited to be a TU alumna. I thought it would be a fitting end to blog about the graduation and commencement materials we have in Special Collections as part of the celebration.

The first, and one of my favorite finds, is the program to the First Annual Commencement of the University of Tulsa on May 21, 1921, exactly one hundred years ago this month. The program also notes that it’s the twenty-sixth Annual Commencement for Henry Kendall College. My ceremony will be just 16 days and half an hour short of the exact moment of TU’s first commencement.

This undated photo shows graduates in front of McFarlin Library at night, which is just super cool. Although my ceremony is at 10:00 am, the Undergraduate ceremony will be at 8:00 pm, so it will probably be dark by the end.

In a previous post, I wrote about Aimee Whitman Marrs, the Navy’s first female psychologist, but in it I did not share the photos of her graduation from TU.


Our materials are not limited only to TU though. Among the papers in the Nell Stapler Bradshaw collection is a small newspaper clipping featuring high school graduates talking about the summer vacation and starting college in the fall.

This 1934 Commencement program struck me as interesting because it lists Tulsa Central High School, Clinton High School, and Turley High School.

Elsewhere in Oklahoma, we have a 1928 invitation to the Oklahoma A and M College, which eventually became Oklahoma State University. The invitation was from C. Bernard Goodall and is housed in our Oklahoma collection.

Since moving to Oklahoma, I have learned a little about the friendly rivalry between Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, so to maintain balance in the force, I found a program from OU’s 1906 Commencement.

The Kirksville State Normal School (now known as Truman State University) is located in Kirksville, Missouri. It was the first teachers’ college in Missouri, which I thought was neat, since my undergraduate school, the University of Central Arkansas, was the first teachers’ college in Arkansas (and known as Arkansas State Normal School for many years).

While we most often think of graduation in terms of high school or university, I found an invitation to the 1927 United States Naval Academy graduation. Robert Fravel graduated as a midshipman, which is the lowest-ranked officer in the Navy.


I imagine that all of these people felt excited and nervous to graduate and move on to new things the same as I am now and graduates well into the future will be. Some probably had careers lined up and some probably looked for work, and so far I find myself in the latter category, but hopeful. While Kelsey and I are leaving, Special Collections will always be here. For in person appointments (TU affiliates) or remote requests (non-affiliates), please email Have a happy, safe, and healthy summer break!

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