The Black Swallow of Death

We recently acquired a new first edition of a book entitled “The Black Swallow of Death”, by P. J. Carisella and James W. Ryan. This book, published in 1972, tells the story of the world’s first Black combat aviator, Eugene Jacques Bullard.

Bullard was born in Georgia in 1895 and was one of ten children. His father, William Bullard, was from Martinique, and would often tell his son stories of France and described a country where all men were equal, regardless of race. At just 11 years old, Bullard ran away from home with the intention of moving to France.

He did eventually make it Paris by first stowing away on a ship and then becoming a professional boxer. He was living in Paris when the WW1 began and he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. After being wounded in battle in March of 1916, he volunteered to be a gunner in the Lafayette Flying Corps, becoming the first Black combat aviator. He served until after armistice and was awarded copious medals for his service in WW1.

Black and white photograph of a man in a boxing stance.Man standing with a monkey on his arm

Bullard returned to Paris and became a drummer at a nightclub. He was very active in Parisian nightlife for many years, before spending some time playing with a band in Alexandria, Egypt. During his time in Egypt, he would fight in multiple prize fights. Back in Paris, Bullard managed and owned nightclubs that were frequented by many famous people of the time, such as Langston Hughes and Louis Armstrong. Many years later, he would cover the walls of his American apartment with photographs of the many friends that he made throughout his life.

A man standing in uniform, looking at the camera

In 1939, Bullard volunteered to use his position in the nightclubs to spy on German visitors to his clubs. Bullard volunteered and served in the 51st Infantry Regiment after France was invaded by Germany. He was badly wounded and his club was destroyed during WW2, so he ended up back in the United States in 1945. Unfortunately, his fame from Paris did not follow him and his injury never fully recovered. Bullard spent the last fifteen years of his life in the United States with anonymity, working as a security guard, perfume salesman, and eventually an elevator operator in Rockefeller Center.

A man stands in uniform next to a statue of Lafayette with a bouquet of flowers on the ground next to him

This blog post can barely scratch the surface of this man’s incredible life. The book includes excerpts from Bullard’s personal journal, allowing the reader to read his own words. He passed away in 1961, leaving behind an incredible legacy.

There are thousands of other people memorialized in Special Collections, where their stories fill the books that line our shelves here in the McFarlin Tower. If you would like to see any of those books in person, send us an email at

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Advertising in the Collections

Months ago, while scanning material from a collection, this old advertisement for Kenmore Washers and Dryers caught my eye and when I noticed another ad later, I had the idea to collect various advertisements for a blog post. These advertisements came from a variety of our collections, including Rebecca West, William Settle, The Tulsa Women’s Club, and the Barbara Santee Archive.

The people who work hard to design eye-catching ads love them far more than the people who ignore them as much as possible, especially since we are inundated with a seemingly infinite quantity of ads in magazines, books, television, movies, and websites.

scanned image of an advertisement for Sears and Kenmore Washer and Dryers

The First Advertisement

Some of the ads are for local places, which makes it exciting to see Tulsa’s changes over the years.

scanned black and white newspaper clipping with an advertisement for Borders located at 81st and South Yale and 21st and the BA

We missed the bargain blowout…Borders is long gone

Borders went from two locations to none, while Rib Crib has expanded from four locations to eleven, stretching from Claremore to Sapulpa and everywhere in between.

Scanned image of an advertisement for Rib Crib Award Winning BBQ Ribs with locations around Tulsa

The Rib Crib chain has grown quite a lot since this ad was published

The Skelly Oil Company was eventually acquired by the Getty Oil Company, which itself was later acquired by Texaco. This ad makes a case for its value so it was probably quite successful at the time.

Scanned image of an advertisement that reads "Houses differ in value and so do gasolines / Skelly Gasoline / Skelly Oil Company Here are a few ads we aren’t likely to see again…

Scanned image of advertisements for Evan William alcohol and Newsweek magazine Scanned black and white image of an advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes "In the stocking under the tree-for every smoker on your list








scanned black and white image of an advertisement for American Express credit card that reads "Even before finals, you could finally get the American Express card"…at least in these formats. No matter how many regulations appear, advertisers will cleverly evolve and the chase will continue.

Speaking of evolution, what has changed more in this picture, car styling or the prices that accompany them? What is advertised, where and how are part of what makes advertising a surprisingly useful snapshot of the past. Insights gleaned from ephemeral ads improve the context of a particular topic or time period. Advertisements can be used to study pop culture, psychology, or history in addition to economics and marketing.
scanned image of a newspaper clipping with a picture of a Geo Metro and a table of rental rates

Scanned image of a newspaper clipping with four book advertisements

Book Advertisements


Scanned image of advertisements surrounding book reviews









On the left we have a page of advertisements for four different books, and on the right we have a page of book titles, with advertisements for a variety of things from apartments  to language lessons to paintings for rental.

scanned image of a black and white page of advertisements surrounding an article about Joyce's Dublin

Advertisements…for when you need to read about Joyce and shop for bathing suits and angora sweaters simultaneously

Historical advertisements had to appeal to a much broader audience than today, but this page from Vogue shows that they still targeted particular consumer groups as much as possible.


These images were all scanned specifically for this blog post but if you want to see any of the many collections we hold, please contact us at for arrangements. We have in-person appointments for TU affiliates and provide digital copies for nonaffiliates. Our visitor policy can be found here and our archival catalog can be found here.

Posted in Collections, General, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Studer’s Popular Ornithology: The Birds of North America

Happy Spring! The weather is getting warmer this week and the birds are chirping. Have you ever wondered what kinds of birds are chirping at you? If you did wonder, you probably googled it. When people used to want to identify birds (or plants or insects or lizards…), they had to look the bird up in a book.

In the mid-1800’s, many books were being published with color illustrations of birds. John James Audubon was publishing books from the 1820’s until almost 1840, and many more were showing up on the market. These books were rarely cheap, with a complete collection of Audubon’s illustrations costing subscribers $1,000 at the time. We have some copies of Audubon publications, but none of the famous illustrations from “The Birds of America”.

Shortly after Audubon was selling his illustrations to the affluent, Jacob Studer (1840-1904) published a much more affordable book of birds. Studer was a printer, lithographer, painter, and ornithologist active in Columbus, Ohio from the 1860’s to 1880’s. He published  “Studer’s Popular Ornithology: The Birds of North America” in 1878. The illustrations in this book are based on the art by Theodore Jaspar, an artist also from Colombus, Ohio. Studer wrote the extremely thorough descriptive text that accompanies Jaspar’s artwork.

The title page of Birds of North America with very decorative text in black and white

Don’t you wish we still used fonts like this?

The copy in our collection is an original first edition and the outside is in delicate condition. The front cover is completely unattached from the rest of the book. Luckily, the illustrations inside are still immaculate, most of them with the original tissue paper in between the pages for protection.

The book includes 700 species of birds from North America, many of them with both male and female coloration and other life stages depicted in the paintings.

A color painting of an adult bald eagle with two chicks in front of it

A bald eagle and chicks

Two cormorant birds standing on rocks in the middle of a body of water, with more in the background in and around the water.

Cormorants- notice the one in the back, under the water, with the fish!

A snowy owl facing the right with other birds situated on a rock in the background

Snowy Owl

A green heron standing in a tree with a nest and young birds next to it and other birds around it

Green Heron and others



















This painting of a prairie hen, or a Pinnated Grouse, even depicts a person and his dog on his way to hunt the bird. The accompanying text for this bird mentions their rarity at the time and unfortunately they are even rarer today. Some of his descriptive text is questionable, and today a bird guide would contain no alliterative text and the accompanying photos would not include a hunter! The prairie chicken can still be found here in Oklahoma on our prairies and is protected in the United States.

Inormation about the Pinnated Grouse

Some of the text accompanying the Pinnated Grouse painting

A color painting of multiple Prairie Chickens with a hunter and dog in the background getting ready to chase them.

Pinnated Grouse

If you would like to see this book or others like it from our collection, we are still open to TU students and affiliates. Our visitor policy can be found here. 

If you have a question or are not a TU affiliate and would like scans of something from our collections, do not hesitate to reach out to us as

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Art of Alexandre Hogue

It has been three and a half years, almost to the day, since the last blog post about Alexandre Hogue, but I didn’t know that when I was looking at some of the pictures we have of his artwork. I recognized him because of the campus art gallery bears his name and discovered his work through the collection of his art and papers that we have in the department. Hogue’s work has been exhibited across the country as well as internationally (see here and here for a few examples) and today I’m sharing a few of my favorites.

black and white image of large groups of people doing various activities, with a cloud of burning oil in the background, created by Alexandre Hogue

Spindletop 1901

I love expressive paintings like these two! There are so many things to focus on and a thousand stories in a single image. He captures the essence of business in Texas (where he grew up) and Oklahoma really well; not only does he capture it, I think he critiques the economic, ecological, and social impacts of that business fairly well, too.

black and white image of a tree surrounded by oil pipes and towers, with a man standing nearby on the side, created by Alexandre Hogue

Oilman’s Christmas Tree


black and white image of a man wearing books and a large hat, shooting a gun in front of the Texas flag, with the words "at mention of that grand old name I always SALUTE" written on the side, created by Alexandre Hogue

Cover Image, Frank J. Dobie’s Flavor of Texas

This little gem sums up Texas so well! I love that it was the cover image of Frank J. Dobie’s book. Hogue painted a portrait of Dobie as well.

black and white hand drawn image of TU's McFarlin library with people walking around outside, created by Alexandre Hogue

McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa 54/55

Alexandre Hogue was head of TU’s Art Department from 1945-1963 and during his time here, he drew this little picture of our very own McFarlin Library. I have loved this building from the moment I arrived on campus and I think he portrayed it perfectly. Even though the building has changed dramatically since his depiction, its very essence remains unchanged.

Hogue also illustrated the American war effort and I found a few of these especially intriguing.

black and white image of a hand pouring a substance into a container, labeled with words about fascism, created by Alexandre Hogue

The Crucible of Public Opinion

Just like Spindletop 1901, I love how much this picture provides so much to ponder. While he was referencing the Italian press of the 1930s, this image’s timeless nature resonates just as well here and now as it did when he created it.

black and white image of bombs, missiles, and tanks with soldiers aiming for the Italian peninsula, which features an image of Benito Mussolini, created by Alexandre Hogue

Nightmare of a Heel Trembling in His Boot

Hogue illustrated the might of the Allied forces against Axis powers by taking aim (figuratively) at Italy’s Benito Mussolini in the work Nightmare of a Heel Trembling in His Boot.

black and white image of an American flag, a small dove, and two airplanes flying on a background of clouds, created by Alexandre Hogue


This work in particular surely bolstered Americans’ support of the war effort through its powerful imagery of liberation and peace framed around America.


If you’d like to see Alexandre Hogue’s work or one of the many other collections we hold, please contact us at 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!

Posted in artwork, Collections, Digital Collections, History, World War II | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women in our Digital Collections

Not every person represented in our collection is “famous”. Many items in our collection capture seemingly insignificant pinpoints in time, letters and notes and photographs of people just living their lives. Sometimes the items can be sad, confusing, or even silly!

Sometimes I think about how archives will look hundreds of years from now, when snippets from our lives are in archives. The letters of yesterday have become the texts and emails of today. Texts we send to one another and photos that we put on our favorite social media sites may be removed from their context and put in an archive, where people can look back and see how we lived.

On the last post of Women’s History Month, I decided to flip through some photographs of women in our digital collection.

This first photos are from the Perry Douglas Erwin WW1 Letters. Erwin was a Lieutenant stationed at Ft. Sill during the war and his wife, Vivian, wrote him nearly every day. The photo was tucked into a letter and it is believed to be Vivian, but we don’t know for sure.

Black and white photograph of a woman holding a rifle and aiming it to the right while she stands on a set of stairs

Woman with a rifle

That photograph and this one were included in the same letter to Erwin dated May 3 1918 and I really wish I knew more about the women in the picture. The title of the photograph is “2 women playing leapfrog”. They have cigarettes hanging out of their mouths while they play!

Black and white photograph of two women in overalls jumping over one another with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths

2 Women Playing Leapfrog

This next photo is from the same time period. From the William Hurtford Hutchins archive, made up of a diary, photo album, and some memorabilia. I can feel and hear this photograph, and with the weather warming up I definitely wish I was in that field with lambs!

Black and white photograph of a woman in a dress with five lambs at her feet

Woman and her lambs

This final photograph is not of . A part of the Roger Blais collection of Sious Uprising of 1862 Photographs, which are photographs of people who may have been involved in the Dakota War of 1862. It’s a portrait of Azayamankawin, also known as “Old Bets”, a Dakotan woman who was known among Minnesotans for her bravery and kindness.

Sepia portrait of an elderly woman looking at the camera

Portrait of Azayamankawn

These little slices of history and many others can be found as digital materials right on our website. If you would like to learn more about them or other items in our collections, don’t hesitate to email us at We are still closed to the public, but TU students and affiliates can come and see us with an appointment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Tulsa Women’s Club Collection

Continuing with our theme of covering Women’s History Month, this post is about a little archive of the Tulsa Women’s Club. I found that it hadn’t been digitized at all yet, so I scanned as many items as I could during an incredibly busy week at Special Collections! This post is rather picture heavy, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

While working on this post, I discovered that a few years ago, a previous GA wrote about the Tulsa Women’s Club, with a ton of in-depth information about its history, which you can read here. Let’s take a closer look at what these women accomplished!

Scanned image of a letter titled Resolutions about a recently deceased member of Tulsa Women's Club

Check out the letterhead! 

This early letter commemorates a Mrs. J.R. Ebright who died on January 28th, 1919.

During this time frame, the name bounced back and forth between ‘Tulsa Woman’s Club’ and ‘Tulsa Women’s Club’ and this president seemed to favor ‘Woman’ for some reason. Generally, everyone else used ‘Women’s’ instead.

Scanned image of a letter titled Tulsa Woman's Club Report of the President 1949-1950

Many of the papers in the collection concerned annual reports for diffent clubs and committees. These letters demonstrate the variety of their clubs and give you an idea what being a member entailed.

From the historian’s report covering the scrapbooks…

Scanned image of a typed letter titled To the Members of Tulsa Women's Club 1948-1949 Historian's Annual Report

I’m always partial towards historians

…to the Literature Department’s membership…

scanned image of a letter titled Literature Department's Report signed at the bottom

The Literature Department

…to the Psychology Department’s speakers…

Scanned image of a letter titled Report of the Psychology Department Tulsa Women's Club

The Psychology Department

…to the Telephone committee’s problems with phone number changes…

Scanned image of a handwritten letter about the telephone committe of the Tulsa Women's Club

Telephone committees would look so differently today!

…to the Varied Arts Department and their name change…

Scanned image of a letter titled Report of the Varied Arts Department of the T ulsa Women's Club 1950-1951

Any guesses about what the ‘Varied Arts Department’ covers?



…you can see how these women covered as many aspects of their daily lives as possible. It looks like a woman could join as many or as few departments as she wanted to. Membership in the Tulsa organization also included membership in the Oklahoma State Federation of Women’s Clubs as well.                     Scanned image of a card from Oklahoma State Federation of Women's Clubs


They bought a house on Admiral Blvd to serve as Club House and, as this Treasurer’s report shows, they had saved quite a bit of money in 1949!

Scanned image of a letter titled Tulsa Women's Club Treasurer's Report 1948-1949

$10k in savings in 1949!? That’s fantastic!

The equivalent amount today would be $104,000! So what did they do with that money?

Scanned image of a letter titled Birthday Cakes Polio Ward Hillcrest Hospital

Birthday cakes and yarn dolls

They made charitable donations to several local organizations, like Hillcrest Hospital’s polio ward to bring patients birthday cakes and yarn dolls…


Scanned image of a letter titled Salvation Army Doll Project with a picture attached

I bet there were lots of happy little girls at the end of this project

…or performed acts of service like sewing doll clothes for the Salvation Army’s Christmas presents program.

Scanned image of a page with newspaper clippings and a March of Dimes card attached

Quintessential 1950s Housewives

They donated money to the March of Dimes…

Scanned image of a letter from a Tulsa Women's Club scholarship recipient asking for continued support with TU tuition increasing

Yes, tuition was once ‘only’ $275 per semester!

and funded scholarships for members attending TU.

That’s an impressive club! I only scratched the surface of this collection, too, which means they probably did quite a lot more than what you see here.


If you’d like to see the this collection or one of the many others we hold, please contact us at 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!

Posted in Collections, General, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stevie Smith Collection and Library

Stevie Smith, the English poet and novelist, passed away 50 years ago this week on March 7, 1951. Special Collections has a sizable collection of hers, with 30 document boxes containing manuscripts, drawings, and original poem drafts. We also have over 1,000 books from her personal library that includes her own books and novels by other authors.

Our collection also includes photographs and correspondence. We have photographs of her that span her whole life. These two are my favorite because she looks so happy in them, especially the one of young Stevie standing in a boat.

Black and white photograph of two women standing and smiling for the camera Black and white photograph of a woman standing in a row boat, holding an object, and smiling for the camera

Smith wrote three novels, all fiction based on her own life, however, she is most known for her poetry. Our collection comprises of over 800 sheets of poem drafts and her library has some annotated copies of her published poetry. She struggled with depression and nervousness for most of her life and it is evident in her writings, many with themes of death and separation. Her best known poem is “Not Waving but Drowning”, a poem about a dying man.

A poem and a hand-drawn illustration of a woman

This poem made me chuckle

Most of her poetry is accompanied by her own illustrations. These illustrations appear quite whimsical when viewed independently from the often dark subject matter of her poems. She was a big fan of cats and in her papers are many poems, stories, and illustrations of them. She even published a coffee table book dedicated to the inner lives of cats entitled “Cats in Colour” (1959), of which we have an original copy.

Pencil drawing of a cat on its back legs with front legs raised and an angry face

Galloping cat illustration

Pencil sketch of a cat sitting and yawning with eyes closed

Cute little doodle of a yawning cat








When I flip through Stevie Smith’s papers, I am struck by the quantity of writing, drawing, and editing that she must have done in her 69 years. Most margins are filled with handwritten poems and illustrations, there are typed drafts on the backs of manuscripts, and even small scraps of paper have content. Her mind seems like it never stopped creating. Stevie Smith won multiple awards for her writings and a play with a film adaptation was written about her life. She died of a brain tumor in 1971 and her legacy lives on.

If you would like to see anything from our Stevie Smith collection or any others, we are still open by appointment to TU students and affiliates. You can make requests or ask us questions by emailing

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Women in War

March is Women’s History Month and Kelsey and I want to celebrate it like we did Black History Month. We hope you enjoy virtually exploring our collections featuring women over the coming weeks.

Our department has a well-known, thorough holding of World War I collections, so I thought I would look through them to see how many women appear and how they do so.

These first photos come from a scrapbook collection called “Remembrances of the Great War” from the Hounslow Aerodrome in London. There are 22 photos total, but shared these three to show the women specifically. The caption reads “Maud Mabel Maggie Phyllis Ms. Smith. Osterley Park Camp, 1917.” Looking at Google Maps, Hounslow and Osterley Park are directly east of London’s Heathrow airport.

scanned image of a scrapbook page with photo of five women in WWI uniforms and a caption of their names below scanned image of a scrapbook page with a photo of a woman in a WWI uniform seated on a bench with a caption of her name below scanned image of a scrapbook page with a photo of two women in WWI uniforms and caption with their names belowThis woman is named Isabelle Wynkoop Puffer Charde. She was from Newton, Massachusetts. This photo was taken in 1918, sometime between March and August. The book this picture comes from contains the war records of 26 people from Newton who all served in various capacities in World War I.

black and white photograph of a woman in a nurse uniform standing outside in front of trees

Jumping to World War II, these women were W.A.V.E.S. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) who served in Hawaii. Kelsey featured this collection last year, in her post about Hawaii. She also shared a picture of the newspaper clipping.

scanned image of a scrapbook page with a newspaper clipping of a group of women beside an airplane and a post card

The post card is addressed “Dearest Dad” and I bet he was glad to hear from his daughter, even just a short post card.

scanned image of a scrapbook page with 8 photos of groups of women attached, none with captions

Looking at these pictures, it’s almost hard to remember these women were serving in a war. Life had to be difficult even if they weren’t on the front lines, but they still made what look like some wonderful memories. I wonder if they stayed in touch with each other after the war?

scanned image of a photograph of three women in uniform wearing leis, standing in front of an airplane

I love the Hawaiian lei tradition! I have similar pictures of my grandparents covered in leis before leaving the islands. It seems likely that they were happy to go home after the war’s end but maybe a little sad to leave such good friends and a beautiful place.

The women in the world wars were relegated to the sidelines, behind-the-scenes auxiliary work, but they paved the way for women today, who serve side by side with their male counterparts. Women have accomplishes so many incredible feats and continue to do so. We are excited to highlight the women of our collections in the coming weeks!

If you’d like to see the these collections or one of the many others we hold, please contact us at 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!

Posted in Collections, History, scrapbook, World War I | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Langston Hughes, Booker T. Washington, and Ada Lois Fisher

Today, for the final post of Black History Month, I chose to have a look through some of our books by Black authors. We have quite a few first editions by noteworthy Black authors that I thought I would share with you today.

A photo of the covers of three novels. The far left has pastel vertical stripes in yellow, blue, green, and peach. The middle has a leaf print, and the third is a lime green book with a small sailboat on it.

From left to right: “Fine Clothes to the Jew” (1927), “The Weary Blues” (1926), and Hughes’s autobiography, “The Big Sea” (1940)

Pictured above are first editions of novels by Langston Hughes (1901-1967), a political rights activist, poet, and novelist, among other things. He is known as the leader of the Harlem Renaissance and his works portray the lives of working-class Black Americans. The book to the far left is “Fine Clothes to the Jew”, a compilation of poems published early in his career that was not well received because many of the poems (including the titular poem) are honest about the poverty in Black communities. Regardless of its reception, it and his first novel, “The Weary Blues” (center), cemented his reputation.

A maroon novel with gold text: "Up From Slavery An Autobiography Booker T. Washington"

“Up From Slavery” (1901)

Also in our collection is this first edition autobiography “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington, published in 1901. This one is extra special because it has his signature in it! I did not know that when I picked the book up, it was a really cool surprise when I opened it up.

Written text: "H. L. Romig 44 Smith St. Auburn. with best wishes F Booker T. Washington Tuskegee, Alabama March 17 1911"

Booker T. Washington Inscription

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was a part of the last generation of Black leaders who was born into slavery and subsequently became a leading voice fighting for former slaves and their families. He advised multiple presidents and founded the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama and called for education and supported “racial uplift”, or the idea that educated members of a race should work to uplift others. I do not have enough space in my single blog post to write about all of the work that Washington did in his lifetime.

“A Matter of Black and White” (1996)

We also have a first edition of “A Matter of Black and White: The Autobiography of Ada Lois Fisher” (1996). Fisher (1924-1995) was a key civil rights leader right here in Oklahoma. Born in Chickasha, she applied for law school at the University of Oklahoma and challenged the state’s current segregation laws and become a lawyer. Her case, Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Okla., was heard by the Supreme Court and she was eventually allowed to attend but required to sit and eat separately from her fellow students. Her case paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education, the court case that decided that segregated schools were unconstitutional.

These novels are such small pieces of a much larger history. If you would like to see any of them or something else in our collection, we are still open to TU students and affiliates with an appointment. Please email us at for more information about accessing anything in our archives.

Posted in General, History, literature, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


This post is a few days late, because I couldn’t get into the office last week during the spectacular snowstorm we had! If you were affected by it, I hope you were as safe and warm as possible!

I contemplated writing about a lot of different things from the perspective of Black history (books or manuscripts, art, film, music, etc.) but I found more pictures, specifically portraits and knew that I wanted to share them here. We have almost no context for these portraits and again, I wish we did. Sitting for a portrait was quite a treat for most people in the past (and really, it still is today, even though it’s far, far easier to do so); whatever their reasons and paths to these portraits, I’m glad we have them these many years later and I hope you enjoy seeing them as well!


color photograph taken with a cell phone of a black and white mounted photograph of a woman with braided hear wearing a gingham dress

This portrait was taken circa 1865 (!) and is likely the oldest of the pictures I found. I read the description before I found the photo itself and was really excited to see it; seeing the beautiful frame was even more exciting.

black and white photograph of a young woman dressed up, leaning on a table while holding a rolled up newspaper

Isn’t she beautiful?

I love this photograph and I would have loved to have seen it taken. Honestly, she looks bored out of her mind and completely done with whatever was happening at the time. I’m curious how she would feel about taking selfies with a cell phone instead of bothering with a formal portrait.

black and white mounted photograph of a young boy in a suit and bow tie

This little boy is so handsome! I could speculate about this portrait’s creation all day. Seeing it reminds me that I should get my boys dressed up for portraits.


black and white photograph of a woman and five young children all dressed up, roughly ages 10 and under

We need to stop and take an extra moment to admire this portrait and the absolute feat of getting five children dressed up and standing completely still long enough for a clear portrait! Especially children this young! The little girl can’t be more than ten years old, but I bet she helped her momma with her younger siblings. Those boys look like they kept momma busy and the baby’s expression is priceless!  Momma looks tired, but she captured her beautiful family for posterity and I’m so glad she did.

black and white mounted photograph of a man in a white dress suit sitting on a bench

I’m glad that what looks like water damage didn’t ruin this man’s actual portrait, but the frame instead. I’ve stared at this portrait for a while and can’t decide what’s going on with the background. I even googled photo editing techniques from the 1940s, likely when this was taken and the jury is still out. If you want to read for yourself, check out this link and this link and let me know what you think.


black and white photograph of a man in a suit and hatblack and white mounted photograph of a man in a suit and tie black and white mounted photograph of a man in evening wear looking away from the camera Look at these dapper, handsome men! It seems unlikely that they knew each other in real life, but they sure make a fancy trio here. The man on the left looks like he’s ready for big business and the man on the right looks like he could be a preacher or minister or maybe even a really stern school teacher. It would be fun to know if my guesses were close or not. For all of these pictures, I wish we knew more about when they were taken or where so we could find their descendents and learn more about these people…can you tell that I really love genealogy? Stay tuned for Kelsey’s next post later this week!


If you’d like to see the these portraits or one of the many other collections we hold, please contact us at 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!

Posted in Collections, General, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment