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Get the Full Story
Date posted:  May 5, 2021

“Get to the root of problems that seem to divide mankind today. Learn how thoughts and actions of the past impact the present, and how they will eventually influence the future.”

- Eddie Faye Gates (Riot on Greenwood, p. xii-xiv)

The Eddie Faye Gates Tulsa Race Massacre Collection honors the tireless labors of one of Oklahoma’s most important African American women leaders. As a researcher, writer, historian, educator, and community activist, Gates’ life work provides an invaluable window into the lived experiences of Black North Tulsans. Her passion for capturing a broad diversity of human stories that range from hope to despair, trauma to resilience, brings learners into contact with the memories of past generations. 

Gates preserved her work for future generations through photographs, correspondence, handwritten research notes, survivor inventories, newspaper and periodical clippings, and audio and video interviews. Within this collection one hears not only the painful and empowering remembrances of survivors and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, but also the broader, vibrant histories of North Tulsa and Oklahoma placemaking. 

This collection is an extraordinary gift not merely to Gilcrease Museum but to the entire city of Tulsa and beyond. Gifted to the museum nearly 100 years after the Massacre, this collection presents a unique opportunity to honor and continue Gates’ legacy of putting generations of Tulsans into conversation with one another about collective memory, tragedy, justice, and resilience.

IMLS CARES Act Grant Overview

Through generous grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Gilcrease Museum’s Eddie Faye Gates Project Team has been engaged in the foundational work of making the video interviews and photographs from the collection available online. This grant award is making it possible to archive, digitize, research, and create educational resources from the collection.

Archives and Research  

Michelle Smith and Autumn Brown working with the collection
Michelle Smith (right) and Autumn
Brown (left) working with the collection

This IMLS award has made it possible to do the necessary archival work to make the collection available for individual research. Our team of archivists are hard at work physically processing collection items, including physical arrangement, rehousing, inventorying, describing, cataloging, assigning accession numbers, and evaluating materials for conservation treatment. Our Gilcrease team has welcomed an IMLS Archival Processing Intern, Michelle Smith, whose work is helping to archive and organize the collection. 

In collaboration with our Advisory Committee of scholars, an IMLS Research Scholar, Autumn Brown, is working to help identify people, places, and events contained in the collection and determine interpretive interconnections with other Gilcrease collections. Her work will be presented in writing and through the Eddie Faye Gates Annual Lectures. 


Michelle Smith taking digital images of photographs from the collection
Michelle Smith taking digital images
of photographs from the collection

IMLS is helping Gilcrease Museum build our technological capacity to help make in this early stage the video interviews and photographs from the collection available online. This work is laying the foundation for one day digitizing even more from the collection. Working together, our Archives and Digitization teams are helping upload audiovisual files, image and digitally transfer hundreds of photographs, and create item records within our new archival software. In honor of Gates’ cross-generational work, our Digitization experts will also be connecting with local community members (teams of elders and youths) to help us in our digital tagging efforts for videos and photographs.


Autumn Brown IMLS Research Scholar
Autumn Brown
IMLS Research Scholar

In order to bring the lessons from this collection to the community, our Education Team is working to make available teaching resources for K-12 educators and students, including a collections anthology webpage, curricular materials, and the Eddie Faye Gates Teacher Institute the week of July 12. Angela Guillory, IMLS Administrative Assistant, joins Gilcrease and the Education Team in helping coordinate these efforts, communicating with local stakeholders, and partnering with organizations.

With this project underway, our Gilcrease team hopes that Tulsans, Oklahomans, and Americans will be learning from this collection for many years to come. As a keen observer of human experience, Eddie Faye Gates understood that collective memory can help us identify the historical gaps, erasures, and silences as a first step toward a fuller understanding of our past, our communities, and ourselves. We are excited that current and future generations will be able to honor Gates’ legacy by continuing her work of historical recovery and reclamation through this collection. We also hope that ongoing work in this collection will deepen our community’s appreciation for Eddie Faye Gates and ensure that future generations remember her as the hero she is.

Dr. William R. Smith
Project Director