By Laura M. Messenbaugh
The Oklahoma Historical Society appreciates the generous thoughtfulness of the editors and publishers who send their newspapers regularly to the Society in exchange for our quarterly historical magazine, The Chronicles of Oklahoma. Fifty-nine daily and two hundred and twenty weekly, semi-weekly and monthly publications are now being received and substantially bound for preservation and future reference. We now have 19,005 bound volumes newspapers filed alphabetically and chronologically in our fireproof building and have a complete catalogue with approximately 900,000 index cards. These constitute a valuable storehouse of information for research in the newspapers.
Our newspapers are used constantly to secure information regarding state and local history, birth dates, legal notices, special articles, etc. Reserach students have come here from Columbia, Yale, the Universities of Wisconsin, Chicago, Nebraska, California, Colorado and others as well as from Oklahoma University, the
Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College and other Oklahoma colleges for data to be used in masters' theses, dotoral disserations, historical writings, term papers, scenarios, etc. Workers from the Department of Labor in Washington spent a number of months studying "Employment Trends and Historical Factors behind These." Men from the Army Engineers' office at Tulsa used the newspapers over a period of a year, at intervals in securing data on storms, floods, flood control, etc. Workers from the Oklahoma Highway Department spent several months in 1936 chhecking newspapers for reports of automobile accidents during the preceding five years. Their findings were recorded on cards and filed in the highway department at the State Capitol for reference in a campaign to reduce hazards. Oklahoma won the National Safety Council's Annual Award for four years in succession in 1938, '39, '40, and '41 for the greatest reduction in accidents during the preceding year. No doubt this work in the newspapers had a great deal to do with reducing the number of accidents for the fifth consecutive year. Workers from the Water Resources Division of the Planning Commission used our files for several years checking reports of floods, storms, erosion, etc. The Writers' Project consulted the older newspapers for material for the Oklahoma Guide.
Photostatic copies have been made of the oldest newspaper files. The oldest volume is the Cherokee Phoenix, published in Georgia in 1828-1834, before the Cherokees moved West. Other rare papers are The Cherokee Messenger, The Indian Journal, The Cherokee Advocate, The War Chief and The Cheyenne Transporter.1 Microfilms of The Arkansas Gazette, The Northern Standard (Clarksville, Texas) and early Indian Territory newspapers add to the value of the collections. Today the Society has one of the largest newspaper collections in the United States.