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Oklahoma History: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

A primary source is usually a record made at the time of an event by participants or by firsthand observers. Examples include contemporary newspaper or magazine accounts, government reports, photographs, and manuscripts. For the full primary sources guide, see http://guides.ou.edu/primarysources

Newspapers and Magazines

Many Oklahoma cities, towns, and counties have daily or weekly newspapers. There are also many tribal newspapers published throughout Oklahoma. These resources may be found in a variety of places, both inside and outside the university.

For Oklahoma newspapers, check the OHS Research Center's Newspaper Catalog. Some of these newspapers are available digitally while other are available on-site at the OHS Research Center.

To locate tribal newspapers at OU, search Discover Local using "Indians of North America Newspapers" as the search term under the "Subject" category and choose "Journals" from the "Material Type" drop-down menu. Using the search term "Oklahoma newspapers" in the same way will bring up those newspapers available in the OU Libraries.

Other Resources

Digital Collections from the OU Western History Collections

The Western History Collections' Digital Collections feature oral histories and Native American manuscripts, rich primary resources highlighting many aspects of Oklahoma history.

Manuscripts from the OU Western History Collections

Manuscripts are typically primary resources. Manuscript collections can include:

  • diaries
  • journals
  • business records
  • personal or business correspondence
  • unpublished manuscripts (books, articles, etc.)
  • family records
  • tribal records

There are three main ways to locate manuscript collections related to Oklahoma history. they are:

When you find a collection that fits your topic visit the Western History Collections to see the documents.

Government Documents

Government documents are any documents published by the government, both at the federal and state level. Government documents are found in many places, but the best place to start finding Oklahoma government material is in Jeffrey Wilhite's (the Government Documents Librarian) guide to Oklahoma Resources, http://guides.ou.edu/oklahoma. Also see his Great Depression & New Deal guide.

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries features the Oklahoma Digital Prairie. It contains digitized government documents and related collections. Topics include state government publications, forms, and audits; the Red River Compact; Confederate Pension Cards; almanacs; the Tulsa Race Riot; Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher; Oklahoma Governors; and Oklahoma Authors

Need Help?

Laurie Scrivener, History and Area Studies Librarian.

Jackie Reese, Western History Collections Librarian.

 

Photographs

Photographs are a rich primary source. They can help make historical events more realistic by providing images of the who, what, when, and where of history.

The Western History Collections has physical  photograph guide books on many subjects, including Oklahoma land runs, dust storms, cowboys, and the settlement of Oklahoma. These physical resources are available in the Western History Collections reading room (Monnet Hall room 300).

Digital photograph resources are listed below.

Family History Resources

Family history resources can come in many forms. Some will be available through the university and others available through outside organizations.

The Western History Collections Manuscript Collections feature many family collections, so check our printed guide to see if yours is included. Also see this page with finding aids to the Collections.

Below are links to other online resources available through area organizations.