Angels Descend On Drumright




Saving Oklahoma’s History:


Angel Project Takes Flight in Drumright


 They were just salt-and-pepper shakers, somewhere between 600 and 1,000 pairs of them. To a team of Oklahoma’s top historians, however, they were a good reason to spend a 48 hours in a restored 1915 Santa Fe Railroad train depot in Drumright ensuring our state’s past is never forgotten.

  Amid the hoopla of Drumright’s Oil-Patch Day celebration, four Oklahoma Archivists Association members came to the small northeastern community recently to launch the Angel Project, the association’s new program to assist the state’s approximately 500 museums and historical collections.

  Over two days, part of which was filled with breaks to watch a parade as part of town’s festivities, OAA members from different state historical groups took photographs of the Drumright Historical Society’s varied collections, including the salt-and-pepper shakers, assessed their condition and compiled a catalog of the museum’s holdings. They even built new shelves to better display some of the treasurers.

  The museum’s other collections include bottles of crude oil, school class records dating back almost a hundred years, electric train sets and local folk art.

  “They did in a day and a half, well, probably what we never would have gotten done,” said museum curator Tammy Posey. “It was amazing. That’s what it was.”

  Oklahoma’s historical centers are facing tough economic times as communities and the state struggle to find the private and state funds necessary to keep state and local museums open to the public.

   That’s why the association developed the Angel Project. The archivists and curators were able to undertake the effort with a federal grant from the Oklahoma Historical Publications and Record Commission, which received it’s funding from the National History Publications and Records Commission.

   “This was really a pilot project to see if an activity like this would work,” said Jan Davis, Administrative Archivist for the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and president of the OAA. “They do this a lot in Texas and we wanted to see how it would work up here.”

   Lisa Henry, curator and head archivist at the University of Oklahoma’s Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Archive and the association’s vice president, was one of the team members spending time in Drumright. She even brought her husband (a contractor) along to help.           

   “It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun too. We were able to document a lot of the collection pieces and enjoy the community celebrating its heritage as an oil town,” she said.

   “When everyone thinks of museums they tend to think of these huge marble and granite buildings and really ancient artifacts in New York, Washington D.C., London or Paris, but really every city and town in Oklahoma has wonderful pieces of history and buried treasures that should be preserved and identified for future generations.”

   “History is something that never ends and should never be forgotten,” Davis added. “That’s what the Angel Project is doing, looking out for our past so people hundreds of years form now can know, enjoy and learn from our history.”