The bimonthly Oklahoma Today magazine is published by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Gov. Raymond Gary (1955-59) initiated the idea for the magazine in order to promote a positive image of Oklahoma. He wanted to show the nation that Oklahoma was a progressive state and to replace the state's Dust Bowl image, which had resulted from the publication of John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath in 1939. Begun in January 1956 as volume six, Oklahoma Today replaced the magazine Resourceful Oklahoma, which was first printed in January 1950. Published by the Oklahoma Planning and Resources Board, Resourceful Oklahoma had focused on the state's industries.
Oklahoma Today evolved to promote Oklahoma's art, culture, history, people, places, and events. Through the years various issues have concentrated on specific topics such as Oklahoma's Diamond Jubilee of Statehood (Spring 1982), air and space (July-August 1998), and American Indians (May-June 1999). A special issue entitled 1900-1999: The Century in Review and the 50 Most Influential Oklahomans was printed in February 2000.
Early editors included John McWilliams, Dave Loye, and Bill Burchardt. In 1981 when Oklahoma Today commemorated its twenty-fifth anniversary, Sue Carter served as editor. The serial was published quarterly at that time and had a paid circulation of 16,770. At the turn of the twenty-first century Joan Henderson was publisher and Louisa McCune, editor in chief. In September 2004 Oklahoma Today had a circulation of 35,906. It has received numerous awards, including the 2005 San Francisco Honorary Publications Award for best fiction, the 2005 Maggie Award for black-and-white editorial layout, and the Magazine of the Year Award from the International Regional Magazine Association in 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1996.
OTHER RESOURCES: Oklahoma Today celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2006 by making the first fifty years of issues available on the internet free of charge in the Oklahoma Today Online Retrospective . Oklahoma Today collaborated with the Oklahoma State University Library Electronic Publishing Center and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education (CareerTech) to produce a searchable online archive where readers can view complete issues of the magazine. In the future, each year the previous year's issues will be added to the online archive.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: John Davis, "From Dust Bowl to Scenic Beauty: Oklahoma Today, 1956 to 1981," Oklahoma Today 31 (Winter 1980). Junetta Davis, "Mirror to the World: Twenty-five Years of Oklahoma Today," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 58 (Winter 1980-81).
Linda D. Wilson
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