The white collar project 65-65-2843, revived November 12, 1935, as part of the W. P. A. 1935-36 program for Oklahoma and sponsored by the Oklahoma State Historical Society was officially described as follows:
"Indexing and cataloging, so far as the allotment of work and time will permit, 1500 volumes of newspapers; arranging and classifying 350,000 manuscripts in our archives division; cataloging and indexing books and other material in the library of the Historical Society, copying Indian material in the office of Superintendent of Five Civilized Tribes at Muskogee; to prepare index of material of historical interest belonging to Bacone College at Muskogee; to prepare index of material of historical interest in the files of early Oklahoma papers in the Muskogee Public Library. All of the above for the use and benefit of the Oklahoma Historical Society. All of the above to be deposited and preserved in the Historical Society Building in Oklahoma City."
Twenty-four thousand dollars of Federal funds for workers was apportioned to the project as it then stood. The Oklahoma State Historical Society was to furnish $1,892 of its funds for supplies and there was on hand $135 of Federal money available for the same purpose, making a total of $2,027.
At that time the life of the project was set at five months and the location for the work of the Oklahoma City unit was the State Historical building. The whole project, both here and at Muskogee, was placed under the direct supervision of Dr. Grant Foreman, director of historical research for the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The organization for the Oklahoma City unit was to consist of a directing committee of five persons and fifty workers, the latter to be taken from the relief rolls of the state. The fifty workers were classified as follows: Ten typists at $52 a month;
thirty readers and classifiers at $68; and ten library workers at $75. These people were to work a total of not more than 128 hours in each month, and this working time was divided into five six-hour days each week.
Dr. Foreman, after consultation with Mr. J. J. Hill, assistant librarian of the University of Oklahoma, decided that, with the consent of the President and Secretary of the Historical Society, the major part of the personnel of the project was to be put at cataloging the newspapers in the collection of the Society. This procedure was adopted in anticipation of the Historical Society's newspapers being catalogued and a list submitted to the American Bibliographical Society before the Union List of Newspapers went to press. The desirability of an up-to-date catalogue of the newspapers of Oklahoma was very great, both as an aid to the student and research worker, and as a basis for any future indexing that might be done. The newspaper collections of the Oklahoma Historical Society were in a condition which rendered reference work difficult. The exact contents of the bound volumes were not known. Many unlisted strays were bound in the volumes; there were errors in the order in which the papers were bound; and the unbound part of the collection, often unsorted and confused, was tied up in binder boards. Therefore, the decision to give cataloging precedence seemed wise.
Accounts have been given in previous reports of the program mapped, and the methods worked out, for placing the workers. At all times procedure was rendered difficult by the fact that there was no established precedent to follow, and the supervising staff was compelled to work out its own program. The different steps in this program have called for considerable thought and experimentation.
For the first three months, with the exception of a group of workers placed in charge of Mrs. Watts to work on the archives in her charge; and a division set to work in the newspapers stack room to supply material for the card workers; the people were occupied with making and checking penciled cards for the catalogue. At the end of three months the penciled cards were complete, and so the workers were re-grouped. One group was placed in a typing school and, under their own supervision,
practiced, in preparation for filling in the printed card forms of the permanent catalogue. Another group was started in the work of indexing some of the older and more valuable bound volumes for Oklahoma newspapers. A third division was added to the workers given Mrs. Watts. Several persons were placed in the library duplicate room, cleaning and straightening and listing the contents of the shelves. Later, a few workers were placed with Mrs. Conlan to assist her in tasks connected with the museum. Thus, at the present time, each department of the Society is receiving direct benefit from the project.
It became evident that the work of typing and editing the cards for the catalogue would not be finished by the first of May, and so at that time, the project was extended sixty days. But even at the expiration of the added time, the catalogue was not compete. So once again, added time has been asked to allow for its completion. This added time has met with the approval of the other departments at the Society, which are benefiting from the presence of the workers.
At very few times during the run of the project has a complete quota of fifty workers been on duty. The constant shifting of the personnel has been a handicap to the project, from the angle of concrete accomplishment. The trained workers have a tendency to leave for better paying positions and, invariably, are replaced by untrained workers. This has proved a serious drawback, in that it has retarded the work and made necessary, constant and most painstaking checking of the cards.
There has been also the problem for the supervisors of adjusting the individual worker to the task to be performed. In a few instances this has taken some time and patience. It has been necessary to shift some workers from one group to another and to plan their work especially for them before they fitted into the project. But, in a few cases where the worker was unable to adjust himself to the task and environment, it was necessary to ask for a dismissal. In the majority of cases, however, the final result of the adjustments has been pleasing.
And at this point it may not be amiss to mention the willingness and helpfulness of the workers on the project. Any problem placed before them, they have solved creditably; respon-
sibilities have not only been assumed, but contested for; any extra duties have been, almost invariably, cheerfully performed. Pride and interest in the progress of the work have been constantly manifested. Dr. Foreman and the local supervisors have tried to hold before the workers the great value of the completed project to the state of Oklahoma now, and in the future. A conscious effort has been made to inspire the workers with a feeling of patriotism and of kinship to the state and its history.
Dr. Grant Foreman left the project, as supervisor, on July 1, 1936. This was a great misfortune for the project, as the success of the program is due, in great part, to his wise and kindly supervision. However, he felt sure the program he had outlined was distinct enough to be followed through even in his absence.
The catalogue to date contains the following:
29,000 cards, prepared in pencil on mimeographed forms, and carefully checked for errors.
13,200 weekly cards edited, typed and filed in final files. This takes care of all the weekly newspapers in the collection of the Society.
2,000 dailies, edited, typed, and filed in final files.
These include all the bound volumes. The daily file, of course, it will be realized is the one that is incomplete. Cards were made for the unbound volumes in boards, but the later decision to send them to the binder, necessitates remaking cards for 1,000 volumes. The list to be submitted by Mr. Hill to the American Bibliographical Society has been completed and is in the hands of the Society at present.
The Cheyenne Transporter has been completed and there have been approximately 9,000 cards typed and filed, available for use as reference. Cards are available for use as reference on other publications being indexed as per above, which approximate 39,000, making a total of 48,000 typed cards.
In addition, there have been recorded in long hand 5,200 notes which when transcribed, will result in the execution of 26,000 cards, which transcription is now being made. All subjects, ie.: Politics, Indian Affairs, Religion, Crime, etc., are included.
Over 1,000 unbound volumes of papers have been cleaned, straightened, and arranged in correct chronological and alphabetical order, and tied up for the bindery by a group of workers. This in itself was a large task, and it was performed in record-breaking time, so that the fund from which the binder was to be paid would not lapse before the end of the fiscal year.
The mending of the papers has proved to be an important item of the program. The one work of cleaning and arranging for preservation of the newspapers of the state, is of itself of vast significance. Nearly all the papers have required some mending in order to avert further damage. Some issues, par-
ticularly among the older and more valuable ones, were frail and torn and called for deft and skillful handling. The volumes, checked for tears and damage by the card workers, were turned over to the menders, who returned them, after mending, to the stack workers for carefully ordered reshelving.
In all, 13,200 volumes have been cleaned and mended, and the program is still in operation. Mending of the papers has been one of the most expensive items on the program, but the lasting worth of work done, justifies the expense of materials used. All newspaper volumes of the collection, 14,505 in number, have been cleaned and re-stacked, alphabetically and chronologically.
Mrs. Watts was given five people whom she set to work classifying, according to subjects, the large amount of manuscript material secured from the Kiowa & Comanche Indian Agency under Act of Congress of March, 1934. It is estimated there are seven tons of this material, which when classified, fell under 185 general classifications. Many of these classifications must be sub-classified and all of it filed chronologically.
After completion of the general classification of Kiowa material, the workers commenced classifying the Cheyenne and Arapaho manuscripts. There are two or three tons of this material. Much is yet to be sub-classified, and all of it filed chronologically.
Before this Project started, Mrs. Watts had begun classifying the material from the Shawnee Indian Agency and the old Sac & Fox Agency. After completion of classification of the Cheyenne and Arapaho material, the Shawnee and Sac & Fox classifications were taken up again. Mrs. Watts secured additional material remaining at both of the above named agencies. This new material probably weighed two and one-half tons. Probably half of this was classified by Mrs. Watts' department; the other half, having been surveyed by the Federal Archives Survey Project before being brought to Oklahoma City, Mrs. Watts is waiting until that project under the direction of Dr. Wardell, checks its serials, before she can go on with its classification.
The workers were next set to classifying the material front the Pawnee Indian Agency. There are probably a hundred thousand manuscripts from this agency alone. At this time Mrs. Watts was in need of book shelves upon which to place 2,000 or more letter press copy books and other bound volumes received from all of the above named agencies. Shelves, loaned to her by the librarian of the Historical Society, were erected by two of the workers and the books of each agency placed thereon. The two thousand books referred to are yet to be indexed.
At present, the workers for Mrs. Watts are classifying the five four-drawer filing cases of material from the Chilocco Indian School. After completion of this it will still be necessary to sub-classify many general classifications of all the above material, and lastly to file chronologically, all material classified. As stated above, 2,000 or more letter press copy books and other bound records, are yet to be indexed.
Mrs. Watts plans soon to secure Kiowa material recently located by the Federal Archives Survey Project, in the basement of the old Kiowa Indian Agency at Anadarko and in the loft of the Agency barn. This will have to be classified also.
At present there are five people classifying manuscripts in Mrs. Watts' department, and five people filing chronologically those manuscripts already classified.
Library stack-room. Duplicate room.
The workers have straightened, arranged, cleaned and listed the books on the shelves in this room as follows:
Much material has been placed in the museum store-room and apparently forgotten, after the Society moved to its new quarters. This material was sorted, cleaned, classified, and turned over to the various departments to which it belonged.
The collection of cuts, belonging to the Society, has been cleaned, labeled, listed, and tied up in new containers.
At present, three workers are engaged in classifying a mass of pictures of historical interest acquired by the Society.
July 1, 1936
The project, if it is continued to completion, must have certain funds at its disposal, for continued supplies in use at both the Oklahoma City and Muskogee units. Therefore, it is requested that the sum of $800 be set aside for the use of the project during the remainder of its life. This estimate is based on the monthly expenditure of the project to date. Any funds unexpended at the end of the project will revert to the Society.
The supervising staff feels that the project has accomplished very creditable results. In addition to a definite program outlined by and conveying benefits to the Historical Society, and whose value will be evident in the future, the project has furnished self-respecting and educational employment to a number of educated people who were so unfortunate as to be in need of Federal aid. The supervisors feel there is justification for their pride in the achievements of the project, of which the evidence will be left behind for all time in the files of the Oklahoma State Historical Society.