About the Project
In 2007, the Oklahoma State University Library’s Oral History Research Program began an oral history research project titled, “Remembering Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel: Poet and Oklahoma Dust Bowl Emigrant.” Karen Neurohr, librarian at Oklahoma State University (OSU) is the principal investigator. To date, over twenty-six interviews with family and friends of Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel have been conducted for the library. As they are processed, the interviews are accessible for researchers through this website: http://digital.library.okstate.edu/mcdaniel. This website will help preserve Wilma’s legacy and provide information for researchers. It is still under creation.
In addition to the website, the “Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel” Literary Archive in the OSU Library Special Collections Women’s Archives has been created. One focus of the Women’s Archives is on collecting materials about Oklahoma women and the Dust Bowl. The library is accepting correspondence, publications, articles, and other items by or about Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel. The items will be preserved and made available for researchers. Gifts about Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel may include correspondence, photographs, diaries, school mementos, scrapbooks, publications, manuscripts and poetry, and reminiscences.
The project has also led to collaborations with other sites that hold literary archives of Wilma, and public programming to help communities learn about her life and legacy. The Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) funded a grant for the OSU Library in the spring of 2009 to help support this project. Librarians from the OSU Library Special Collections Department provided assistance for the Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel collections in Oklahoma at the Stroud Public Library and the Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History. Both of those collections are located at sites with limited funding and staffing. The collections needed preservation activities and supplies, organization, and a finding aid. The funding from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the work of OSU librarians made the collaboration possible. The Digital Library Services Department of the OSU Library also assisted with preservation and created the website.
In addition to the preservation supplies, the OHC Grant helped support three successful public programs over Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel. The programs were coordinated by the OSU Library and held in April 2009. Program locations were the OSU Library in Stillwater, OK; the First Christian Church in Stroud, OK; and the Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History in Chandler, OK. The programs included keynote speaker Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a historian and personal friend of McDaniel; film screening of Down an Old Road: The Poetic Life of Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, written andproduced by Chris Simon of Sageland Media; and music by The Red Dirt Rangers, a Red Dirt Oklahoma band beloved by McDaniel.
Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel’s early life in Oklahoma, her Dust Bowl experience, and her subsequent life in California shaped her writing and help define her. She is a unique and unparalleled voice for the Dust Bowl experience. Even after her death on April 13, 2007, her style and subjects continue to positively influence other writers and readers.
If you have any items about Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel that you would like to donate to the Women’s Archives at Oklahoma State University please contact Karen Neurohr at the Oklahoma State University Library. Phone: 405.744.2376. Items will be preserved and made available for researchers.
Funding for this project is provided in part by a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) and the We the People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of OHC or NEH. Unless otherwise noted, photographs, select correspondence, handwritten poems, and other items, are Courtesy the estate of Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel; from the poet’s personal collection. Copyright protected. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright owner.