Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 8, No. 4
December, 1930

Page 365

From the address of William H. Murray at the dedication of the Historical Society Building, Nov. 15, 1930.

"What is history? Napoleon said history was fables agreed upon. History is a record of acts and deeds and achievements of a people. Too often it is taken to mean a chronology of officers. The knowledge of the code of morals, of degree of intelligence is of greater value. The nearer history gets to the people, the greater is its benefits to the people. What is the purpose of knowing history? Of what value is it? None unless it can be used to indicate the future. Confucius once said: Learn the past and you will know the future. The purpose of the study of history is that we may extract the philosophy of history, to determine whither we are drifting. It is easy enough to know we are moving. There are three conditions of civilization. One moves upward. One downward, and one moves rapidly but goes nowhere. No civilization ever stood still. It rests in the minds and hearts of the people. A citizenship which stands erect, in short who thinks most of name and character is safe."


The Oklahoma Historical Society is an educational institution, as much so as any state school, and its ambitions to serve the entire people, not alone the students who are enrolled in the schools. This institution is more especially intended for the students of history, archaeology and ethnology. We have collected here a library of books, pamphlets and rare manuscript for the use of those interested in the study of the history of Oklahoma, which includes also the history of the Five Civilized Tribes, as well as the traditions and the known history of the many other tribes of Indians

Page 366

that now constitute a part of the citizenship of Oklahoma. This collection constitutes an historical library that is invaluable to the student, whether he be a writer, a student in the schools of the state or a private citizen in the search of historical knowledge.

Our wonderful collection of Oklahoma Newspapers is another source of history of the state. The student will get a more comprehensive idea of any event of historical importance if he can read the contemporary newspaper accounts written by those who had first hand information. These newspaper stories give us the very atmosphere surrounding the subject written about, and the student of history can get a much clearer and fuller view of his subject than by reading the account written by the research historian. In fact every student can be his own research historian. We have in our newspaper archives more than 10,000 bound volumes of newspapers—including Cherokee papers published in Georgia before the treaty party of the Indians came west. Among other rare papers pertaining to Oklahoma and the Southwest are five volumes of the "Cheyenne Transporter," published at Old Darlington (Fort Reno) from 1880 to 1886—and hundreds of other papers of interest to the student of history. These papers are classified chronologically and listed alphabetically in the paper files and are accessible to those who are interested.

We have in our Indian Historical Museum now in its permanent home in the South gallery on the third floor of the building, more relics, curios, pictures and historical mementos of the Indians, and especially those of the Five Civilized Tribes, than can be found in any other museum west of the Mississippi.

But this is not the entire museum; in the north gallery in the historical museum is a collection that pertains to the white settlement and to pioneer American history. While there are now many rare and valuable pictures, documents and relics, and this will no doubt be added to as historical matter is collected for this department. In the east gallery is being assembled a fine collection of prehistoric matter. The Society has specialized along this line and has made much original research, partly through the aid of the Smithsonian

Page 367

Institution at Washington. Some of the more recent archaeologic discoveries have not yet been placed on exhibition, waiting for suitable cases in which to properly display them. There is also down in the large basement room on the south end of the building many reminders of the old frontier life, chief among which is the old stage coach used in the days before automobiles and railroads were known. All these things are history visualized. It gives the student a better idea of past civilization than he could ever gain from reading alone.

But what is the use to tell more about this great institution—it belongs to the people of Oklahoma and it is the earnest wish of those in charge that they shall visit the new building and take advantage of the opportunities here afforded in the study of history and kindred subjects.

D. W. P.


(Editorial Tulsa World.)

A land without memories is a country without pride, and a country without pride in its history is merely a region of degradation. Oklahoma, in the sense of origin and of history, is a country, a land, an empire. Its present formal status as a state does not fully express its strange, romantic, rapid, vivid development, its distinctions above those of any other state. Oklahoma was routed for a great destiny along a wonderful way. It is much more than a state; it is the meeting place of epochs and races and aspirations.

Dedication of the Oklahoma Historical Society building at the capital was an event far out of the ordinary. Few states have any such buildings, and the creation of such a center in the twenty-third year of statehood is in itself a notable achievement. This enterprise is primarily the work of the Historical society, founded by the pioneers themselves in their years of toil and struggle. It is highly gratifying that pioneers remain and that they have dedicated their own building in which they have assembled the evidences of the many periods and movements and migrations which go to make up our history.

This history of ours moves in decades rather than cen-

Page 368

turies. So it comes that men and women who appeared when organized government was in the primary stage, or even before, have seen the successive stages of the pioneer, the formal settler, the establishment and disbanding of territories, the end of tribal nations and the coming of a mighty state are still active, and alert to all the interests of the present time. No other pioneers in all history have been so privileged. The assembling of relics of the successive periods and developments was not left to chance or to other generations. People who made history preserved it.

The occupancy of this fine structure should remind all of us that the pioneer period passed well ahead of the pioneers themselves. They have turned over to us an invaluable collection, but it is not complete. There are relics outside this building; they are in danger from loss or destruction. We have a house for all of them, and it is a center of patriotism, memory, history, education, a treasure house of sentiment and even of tradition. The articles in our storehouse are eloquent of the glamorous, swift years and their increasing meanings.

The collections in the historical building may appeal to antiquarians, scholars and writers as being divided into classes or epochs or eras, but to most of us it is all one glorious chapter. We may start with the aborigines, with the flamboyant and gainful Spaniards, the heroic French explorers, the fur traders and the plainsmen, the migrating tribes, the cattlemen and soldiers, the plains Indians or the participants in the unique openings, but we arrive at a common point of pride and admiration. Our people should identify themselves with this building and its inspiring treasures. If we cannot endow it with relics and evidences, we can take pride and sympathetic interest.

The occasion is one for thanks to the Historical society and the people who have brought on the historical sentimental center on the capitol grounds. The work has been in progress since the phase of general settlement began.

We wish to remind Tulsans and the people of the entire surrounding territory that the historical building is emphatically that of the entire state. The capital city is easy of access and the historical building is an added incentive for a visit. Any of us going to that vicinity should make it a point to go to the historical building.

Return to top

Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site