The Western History Collections is a special research 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. To learn more, please view the History of the Collections.
Fall 2023 Collections Availability
On June 26, 2023, the Western History Collections began a preservation project that has made many of its collections unavailable through the Fall semester.
Before planning a visit, please contact staff at email@example.com or (405) 325-2904 to make sure that the collection materials you wish to consult will be available.
Thank you for your patience as we work to ensure the continued preservation of our invaluable collection resources.
Appointments for Researchers
Research appointments, along with consultation with a librarian regarding collection materials to be used, are required before arrival. Starting in summer 2023, many collection materials will be unavailable as we undertake a large preservation project.
Appointments are available Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm.
Course Support and Instruction
Western History Collections Research Fellows
Summer 2022 Masterson Fellows: Randy Hopkins, Noah Ramage, Sophie Joscelyne
The Masterson Fellowship, endowed by Conrad and Ellen Masterson of Cee Vee, Texas, provides opportunities for visiting scholars to conduct research in the Western History Collections for one to three months. The fellowship is open to advanced graduate students, faculty, or independent scholars engaged in an original research project of significant scholarly merit that will benefit directly from the utilization of materials in the Western History Collections.
Summer 2022 Jack Haley Fellows: Martha Beliveau, Sawyer Young, Bryce Jones, Brendan Thomas
The Jack Haley Fellowship, endowed by Fred and Patricia Schonwald of Oklahoma City, provides fellowships for graduate students in the Department of History in the OU College of Arts and Sciences.
Summer 2022 Dale Society Fellow: Cecilia Slane
The Dale Society Fellowship, supported by the Association of Western History Collections Endowment, supports graduate students in OU graduate programs outside of the Department of History.
Explore digitized manuscripts and photographs from the Western History Collections for research. The digital collections include oral history interviews, Native American manuscripts, OU history, and much more.
The Photographic Archives is perhaps the best known and most heavily used unit of the Western History Collections. It contains approximately 2 million images representing a wide variety of photographic processes and subjects, and contains both glass plate negatives and original prints.
The Western History Collections Library, with more than eighty thousand volumes, comprises one of the leading special collections of published Western Americana in the world. The Library contains a general collection, known as the Frank Phillips Collection, plus smaller collections and private libraries that focus on specialized topics.
The Western History Collections holds over 2,000 collections of primary textual materials (manuscripts) on Oklahoma and the West. These collections offer unique opportunities for scholarly research on the history and culture of the Trans-Mississippi West and Native Americans. Among the types of original materials in the manuscript collections are diaries and journals, personal and official correspondence, literary manuscripts, business records, and scrapbooks. The subjects covered by these collections are diverse, and include records of the Five Tribes in Oklahoma, expansion and settlement of the American West, and businesses that contributed to the development of the Trans-Mississippi West region.
The University Archives holds many series of official records produced by the colleges and administrative departments of the University of Oklahoma from 1890 to the present. For example, the official papers of OU presidents are housed in the University Archives, beginning with those of the first president, David Ross Boyd. Also included are official publications of the university, such as yearbooks, commencement programs, student newspapers, football programs, telephone directories, and general catalogs.
The Western History Collections has maps and posters that complement the manuscript materials. Map collections include 5,200 maps of Oklahoma, Indian Territory, and surrounding areas, documenting the history and development of Oklahoma from its inception as Indian Territory in 1836 to its present status as the 46th state in the union. Poster collections include over 900 posters depicting advertisements for wild west shows, patent medicines, Native American art, and Oklahoma political candidates, as well as American propaganda posters for World Wars I and II.
The sound recordings collection has over 2,500 cassette tapes, vinyl records, compact discs, and reels containing both music and the spoken word in many languages. They include Native American songs and folklore, oral histories by Oklahoma pioneers and historical figures, classical and folk music, books on tape, radio programs, and recordings related to University of Oklahoma history.
Faculty: Using the Western History Collections in Your Classes
Faculty are encouraged to use the Western History Collections in their classes. Contact Western History Collections to schedule virtual orientation sessions or specialized instruction on class topics for undergraduate and graduate students.