OU students, faculty, staff, and independent scholars are welcome to visit the Western History Collections for research. To prepare for your visit please view our policies on use of the WHC Reading Room and Copying.
The Western History Collections is a special collection within the University of Oklahoma Libraries system. Its purpose is to enhance the University Libraries general collection on the history of the American West; to support the research and teaching programs of the University of Oklahoma; and to provide opportunities for research through the acquisition, preservation, and access of materials relating to the development of the Trans-Mississippi West and Native American cultures.
George Crews McGhee was born in Waco, Texas, and worked his way through the University of Oklahoma, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1933. He started as a geophysicist in the oil industry and in 1934 earned a Rhodes scholarship, and spent three years at Queens College, Oxford, receiving a doctorate in 1937.
He led a small prospecting group that found new wells in Louisiana and became a millionaire before he turned 30. Ambassador McGhee served in the Navy during World War II, becoming liaison to the bomber command headed by Gen. Curtis E. LeMay. He earned three battle stars and the Legion of Merit.
Ambassador McGhee joined the State Department after the war. In 1947, President Truman named him coordinator for aid to Greece and Turkey. In 1949 he became assistant secretary for Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs. He helped establish links between the United States and the oil producers of the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia. During President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration, Ambassador McGhee returned to the oil business but was recalled as a consultant to the National Security Council and as a member of the president's commission on the military assistance program.
President John F. Kennedy appointed him counselor to the State Department and head of its policy planning council. During the Cuban missile crisis he was under-secretary for political affairs, the No. 3 job in the department. His next assignment in 1963 took him to Bonn as ambassador to the Federal Republic of West Germany, assigned to help keep the NATO alliance together while the United States was at war in Indochina.
Ambassador McGhee married Cecilia Jeanne DeGolyer in 1939. They had two sons, George and Michael, and four daughters, Marcia, Dorothy, Bebek and Valerie.
This exhibit contains many artifacts from the McGhees' world travels, including items from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America.
Are you planning a research trip to the Western History Collections? Here's a checklist to ensure you are prepared: