For me, the Historypin project was great for curiosity’s sake because I got the chance to explore some of OCU’s hidden secrets and widely known artifacts across campus. Through all the ups and downs, the project definitely brought me closer to the history of the university as a whole. After doing research in the archives, I was able to come face to face with a few of OCU’s most interesting and strange artifacts. Once I was assigned to focus on the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel area, I became acquainted with various files and photographs in the archives that encompassed my zone. For me, I feel the research I did for the campus tour is the most beneficial for people wanting to understand the history and the creative minds behind many of the buildings and sculptures surrounding the chapel. When I go on tours, those are the things I typically want to hear, so I figured that those were the details I should include. Overall, I hope that people gain a better understanding of OCU after they embark on their campus tour.
After my first session of research on the Gold Star Memorial Building in the Oklahoma City Archives and Special Collections, I completely fell in love with the building and its history. That being said, it was a no-brainer when our professors told us to choose an area for our final HistoryPin project.
Through my research, I learned that that Gold Star construction began in April 20, 1949 with a beautiful groundbreaking ceremony. During this ceremony, planes circled overhead waiting to drop flowers among the audience. Exactly one year later, on April 20th 1950, and although construction of the building was not yet complete, there was a dedication ceremony. During this ceremony, OCU officials dedicated the building in honor of the all the young Methodist men and women who had lost their lives in World War II. During 1951, construction on the building was paused due to lack of funds, but resumed in 1952 thanks to fundraising efforts by OCU officials and Oklahoma Methodists churches. Finally, in 1953, Gold Star was complete. In my final HistoryPin project, I made a collection of 10 photos to illustrate a timeline of Gold Star’s construction.
Along with my collection, I also pinned the Chickasaw Nation Garden. This was actually the very first item I researched in this class, back in the Monumental Mystery assignment. I felt that, although there was a plaque right next to the garden giving some information, there was still a lot of fun, interesting bits of information that didn’t make it to the plaque. One of the most interesting things I found in my research was the reasoning behind the shape of the garden – the circular shape was intended to mimic the American Indian medicine wheel with an unbroken circular form and the four quadrants within the circle represent the four cardinal directions, the four seasons of the year and the four seasons of life: birth, adolescence, adulthood and death. I also learned that the design uses regional materials, like pink granite and sandstone, along with native plants to reflect the colors and textures of Oklahoma. This is all information I feel is very relevant to the garden, and that onlookers would enjoy knowing when viewing the garden.
While completing my project, I did not encounter any major problems. The software we used was extremely user-friendly, and Professor Wolf was very helpful during our archival research. It definitely helped that we had used the software beforehand with our “Solo Pins” because we then had that first experience to really work out the kinks and get a feel for the software. Overall, this was definitely the most enjoyable final project I’ve ever worked on, and I really enjoy looking back through all the pins and seeing our accomplishments.
Looking back at this year, I learned so much that I never thought I would. My favorite part of class was learning quirky things about OCU’s history, and then having the opportunity to share these amazing findings with the world through HistoryPin. It felt as if we had these cool, little secrets that we could share with everyone else on campus. Even though at times we had so much work to do, and at other times we weren’t exactly sure what we were doing, this class was a really fun ride. Now, as I reflect on everything we have done, I am truly proud of what my class has done. From entering bricks in the Miss America Garden to makings pins on HistoryPin, we have done so much and learned a lot together. Whether it was learning about OCU’s history or how to work in groups, this class truly taught it all. My only hope is that the next class who takes our place enjoys this class and all its projects as much as I did.
It was extremely hard for me to decide on a final HistoryPin topic. I originally wanted to focus on ‘Alvin,’ namesake of Alvin’s Cafe at Oklahoma City University, but there weren’t enough artifacts to pin. Consequently, I decided to choose any artifact(s) located around or near the Administration building and the Administration building itself. The Clara E. Jones Administration building was one of the first structures built on the Oklahoma City University campus. OCU first opened as “Oklahoma City College” in 1919.
Archival research was conducted in the Oklahoma City University Archives. We spent numerous class periods carefully shuffling through piles of unorganized historical photographs. Because the building is so old, there were many photographs featuring the Administration building and many artifacts in the courtyard. Each student searched through different boxes of photographs and picked out any photograph concerning a chosen topic. Some artifacts are still there, while some have been demolished or relocated.
The statue of the “Pioneer Preacher” is a very prominent monument. It honestly would have been hard not to choose this artifact. The story behind the “Pioneer Preacher” is fascinating.
The sundial is simply an interesting historical, now nonexistent, artifact.
The historical photograph was found in the boxes mentioned above, and I found that the Piersol dedication plaque remains in the courtyard, but the fountain is gone for reasons I have been unable to find.
The two pictures of the exterior of the Administration building were chosen because they either, were suitable for a street display or showed the “Oklahoma City College” engraving.
Continuing on with my personal interest of the Oklahoma City University Greek life past, I completed my pins over the former OCU chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order. Also, I decided to include something fun in my pins that didn’t solely deal with the Kappa Alphas. After doing some research on the Rice House, the original house of the Kappa Alphas that was replaced by Walker Center, I found that members of a car club used to meet in front of the house. These people were known as the Studebaker Club; from pictures I deduced they were members of the community as there was no information on them in the archives. Coming into this course, I never even guessed that I would have so much fun doing archival research. To me, doing this project essentially gave me a glimpse into the past and inevitably makes me happy to have the OCU campus as it is now (even though we did get rid of a pretty awesome bowling alley). I find it so fascinating to see the changes in a community, such as OCU, over the years and the effect that world events play on a seemingly irrelevant place (i.e. Charles Lindberg visiting the school or women participating in collegiate sports due to all of the men fighting in a world war). It is my hope that the next group of honors students that take this course continue on with this historical research and have as much fun doing it as I have.
Over the course of my archival research, I became very interested in the three Miss Americas from Oklahoma City University—Jane Jayroe, Miss America 1967; Susan Powell, Miss America 1981; and Shawntel Smith, Miss America 1996. As I began searching through the archives for everything I could find out about these three women, I found that there was not as much information as one would assume on OCU’s Miss Americas. However, what I found most interesting was what I found in OCU’s 1967, 1981, and 1996 yearbooks. I loved being able to compare each of the pageant winner’s homecomings, as well as see what they were involved in on campus. For example, Jane Jayroe was an active member of the Panhellenic sorority Alpha Chi Omega, and there was a photo of her sorority sisters watching her being crowned on Television in 1967.
For this project, I tried to find pins that were all very closely related in a sense that one could find points of comparison between any two, even though all of my photos were from different decades. The first three photos I chose, for instance, were from the yearbooks I mentioned above—the yearbooks from each year a Miss America was crowned from OCU. I focused on Jayroe’s, Powell’s, and Smith’s homecomings. My next pin, found in the archives, was a photo of the corner of 23rd and Blackwelder from the 1950s. This corner, now an OCU landmark and the home of our Miss America Fountain, was then just an open field. I chose this picture, one, because it’s a really interesting historical shot, and two, because I think it’s a great representation of how our University has grown not only on campus, but also in prestige in the past 50 years. My final pin was a photo I took recently of the Miss America Fountain, a tribute to those three important women.
This project has instilled so much pride in my university, and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to participate in this. My interest in the history of Oklahoma City University has increased immensely, and my appreciation for knowing about my university has grown as well. If this project has done anything for me, it has made the importance of our archives much more evident. I love that this project may be ongoing so that new traditions and remarkable events at our university may be displayed for the public, and I hope that future students learn to appreciate Oklahoma City University’s history as much as I did.