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Federal grant helps Oklahoma digitize African American archives

With the $93,000 grant, OHS hired a project coordinator and an imaging specialist for a year and purchased a scanner for digitizing.

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) announced the use of a federal grant to identify and digitize collections of African American history found in state archives.

With the $93,000 grant, OHS hired a project coordinator and an imaging specialist for a year and purchased a scanner for digitizing. The grant was awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan, a program that hopes to help humanities jobs and support the reopening and rebuilding of humanities-related programs.

According to OHS, more than 20 collections were identified, including archives of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, which consists of research and minutes from the commission in 1998.


The Tulsa Race Riot (or often times referred to as the Tulsa Race Massacre) is believed by historians as the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.

In 1921, between May 31 and June 1, more than one thousand homes and businesses were destroyed belonging to the previously successful Black population of the city of Tulsa. Deaths range from fifty to three hundred. 

Tulsa had been placed under martial law, and the state's second-largest African American community, "Black Wall Street" had been burned to the ground.

Other collections found and digitized listed by OHS include:

  • F.D. Moon, a Black educator, principal and administrator
  • Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, a prominent civil rights activist known for challenging Oklahoma segregation laws
  • Zella Patterson material from the town of Langston and Langston University
  • Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame
  • African American school records
  • Kames L and Lois L. Mosley, director of the Langston University Extension Service

Some of the digitized materials are available now on the Gateway to Oklahoma History website while the rest will be uploaded throughout the year.

To learn more about the Oklahoma Historical Society, you can visit their website here.

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