Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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The Oklahoma Press Association (OPA), with headquarters in Oklahoma City, is a statewide professional organization of Oklahoma newspaper publishers. On May 18-19, 1906, in anticipation of Oklahoma statehood, three hundred members of the two territorial press associations met in Shawnee to form the Oklahoma Press Association. The Indian Territory Press Association had been organized in March 1888 with nine members, electing Leo E. Bennett of the Muskogee Phoenix as president. Two years later, in May 1890 the Territorial Press Association formed at Purcell, Oklahoma Territory. H. T. Miller, publisher of the Territorial Topic in Purcell, initiated the meeting and served as its first president. In 1893 the Territorial Press Association changed its name to Oklahoma Press Association and organized the Oklahoma Historical Society to preserve territorial newspapers. Omer K. Benedict of Hobart served as OPA's first president.

Annual meetings held around the state provided an opportunity for OPA members to exchange ideas and to discuss important publishing industry topics such as libel laws and production costs. By 1911 membership numbered five hundred. Two years later the organization built a clubhouse at Medicine Park, which was dedicated on October 2, 1915. By 1920 OPA had difficulty in funding the facility's maintenance costs. In July 1930 the clubhouse was sold for four thousand dollars, because OPA directors "believed it had served its usefulness to the association." Through the years the OPA passed resolutions to endorse women's suffrage and to support patriotic efforts during World Wars I and II.

Initially, OPA had been housed on the University of Oklahoma campus. The organization had offices at the Sheraton Hotel (formerly the Biltmore) in Oklahoma City for approximately thirty years. After 1961 and through the turn of the twenty-first century OPA's headquarters has been located at 3601 North Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City.

Since March 1930 the OPA has published its monthly journal, the Oklahoma Publisher. The organ offers news stories, practical articles, and advertisements of Oklahoma newspapers. In 2005 OPA had 208 business members (legal newspapers) and fewer than 100 associate members (nonlegal publications and retired members).


BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Edward Carter, The Story of Oklahoma Newspapers, 1844 to 1984 (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Western Heritage Books, Inc., 1984). G. A. Crossett, "The Oklahoma Press Association," Sturm's Oklahoma Magazine 2 (July 1906). Oklahoma Press Association Reports (N.p.: n.p., 1895 1919. Joseph B. Thoburn and John W. Sharp, History of the Oklahoma Press and the Oklahoma Press Association (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Press Association, 1930).

Linda D. Wilson

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