Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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A nonprofit organization, the Oklahoma Heritage Association (OHA) is dedicated to preserving Oklahoma's heritage and promoting enhanced pride in the state. Privately funded, primarily by membership contributions, the association has a statewide membership and a board of directors to establish policies and monitor operations. The group was founded in 1927 by Mrs. Anna B. Korn of El Reno, who motivated a number of prominent citizens to meet on September 27, 1927, at the state capitol to create the Oklahoma Memorial Association and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. The first Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony took place on November 16, 1928, and has been an annual event since that time.

The organization obtained its first permanent home in 1970, when the family mansion of Judge and Mrs. Robert A. Hefner, Sr., and its contents, including priceless antiques and Judge Hefner's cane and bell collections, were donated. Now known as the Oklahoma Heritage Center, the house is located at 201 Northwest Fourteenth in Oklahoma City. In 1971 the Oklahoma Memorial Association, led by full-time volunteer Stanley C. Draper, Sr., changed its name to the Oklahoma Heritage Association and expanded its membership, board of directors, and activities.

By the time of his death in 1976 Draper, with the help of outstanding Oklahomans from throughout the state, had built a solid organization. Expansion of programs continued. For example, The Judge: The Life of Robert A. Hefner, Sr. was published in 1976, launching OHA's publication program. By 2004 OHA had published more than seventy books on Oklahoma history, institutions, and native sons and daughters. Book series include the Oklahoma Trackmaker (biographies), Oklahoma Horizon (institutions), Oklahoma Heritage County History, Oklahoma Voices (autobiographies), and Oklahoma Statesmen (political biographies). OHA also publishes a biannual magazine titled Oklahoma and a regular newsletter titled Oklahoma Heritage News. Heritage Center staff maintain an archive containing files on the members of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

OHA has established an awards program to recognize volunteers, teachers, and local organizations statewide for their outstanding work in preserving Oklahoma's heritage. A major education program was developed that included the establishment of Oklahoma Heritage Week activities for students in grades four through twelve statewide, an annual scholarship program with more than $400,000 in awards, and the distribution of books, videos, and magazines for classroom use. The association's original program, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, has continued to grow in stature through the years, and during the 1990s and into the twenty-first century the induction ceremony was telecast statewide by The Oklahoma Network.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Oklahoma Heritage Association," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "State Heritage Given Boost," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 24 July 1971. "State's Party to Recognize Two Pioneers," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 15 November 1928.

Paul Lambert

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