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Finding Aid: Oklahoma Native American Photographs Collection

Institution: Thomas Gilcrease Library and Archive
Language of Material: Primarily English with occasional names in their native language.
Description: 1,627 items
Period covered: 1850s - 1950s
Subject matter: There are 1,627 Oklahoma affiliated Native American Photographs in the Thomas Gilcrease Library and Archive. The photographs have been acquired continuously since the museum’s opening in 1949 and have developed into a significant independent collection over the years. These unique photographs provide a glimpse into tribal life and customs after removal into Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, and visually illustrate the process of adaptation to European customs juxtaposed with attempts to retain unique cultural identities. Prominent individuals with ties to Oklahoma history featured in this collection include Cherokee Chief John Ross (and family), Principal Chief during the Removal Period and after (1820 – 1866); Choctaw Chief Peter Pitchlynn (and family), Choctaw political leader from 1830 through election as Principal Chief (1864 – 1866) and after; and the important Creek Artist Acee Blue Eagle, to name a few. See all of the Oklahoma Native American photographs. 

Background: Staff, interns, and volunteers of the Thomas Gilcrease Library and Archive have contributed to the organization and maintenance of the files since the collection passed to the City of Tulsa in the 1950s. The Gilcrease Foundation acquired these materials before 1964 and is housed in the Helmerich Center for American Research (HCAR). The library currently receives most materials through community donation, board members, artists and the acquisition of manuscript collections.

Extent: 12 Linear feet

Processing Information Note: Over time the sub-collection of Oklahoma Native American Photographs has grown in importance and was organized by staff according to tribal affiliation. Cataloguing and creation of the finding aid of the Gilcrease Museum's collection of Oklahoma Native American photographs were made possible by the Oklahoma Historical Records Advisory Board, funded by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The grant funded project was completed in 2017 in order to improve the visibility, accessibility, growth and conservation of the collection.

Restrictions: Please, contact the Rights and Reproduction Department for information on publishing or reproducing materials included in these records. Permission will be granted by the Gilcrease Museum as the owner of the physical materials, and does not imply permission from the copyright holder. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all necessary permissions from the copyright holder.

Availability: This collection is open for use by appointment only at the Helmerich Center for American Research (HCAR). Contact the Library at 918-631-6441 or in advance to inquire if materials exist pertaining to your research interests. 

Arrangement Title Description Date
Wichita, Folder 11 Wichita woman

2 copies of this photograph exist in the Gilcrease Photography Collection
Folder 11

1850 - 1900
Mrs. Jim Tawakonie and unidentified Wichita woman

Folder 11

Mrs. Jim Tatum and unidentified Wichita woman

Folder 11