News from Voices of Oklahoma…

History Byte-Black History Month

Photo taken at Katz Drug in Oklahoma City.

It was August 19, 1958, when thirteen young children sat down at the whites-only lunch counter of Katz drug store in Oklahoma City, OK. The protest helped start a movement which led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This history byte focuses on the children who remained committed to nonviolence.

Thank you for listening, and for sharing these great stories with your friends!

J. Paul Getty History Byte – Voices of Oklahoma

The new movie All the Money in the World tells the story of the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s 16-year-old grandson. The notorious billionaire had many ties to Tulsa, having lived at the Mayo Hotel for some time during the 1940s.  
In this History Byte, Bill Vandever and Henry Zarrow both share their recollections of meeting Getty:


December 7, 1941-Voices of Oklahoma

Voices of Oklahoma takes you back to Sunday, December 7, 1941, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Petty Officer Robert Norman was sitting on his bunk aboard the battleship USS Nevada docked in Pearl Harbor.
Listen to chapters 3,4,5:

Norman, Robert

Others remember hearing the news.
Jay O’Meilia-Chapter 6

O’Meilia, Jay

Ray Feldman-Chapter 7

Feldman, Ray

Eddie Sutton Chapter 3

Sutton, Eddie

Please share these voices with your friends.

VOK fact: We have now recorded 205 storytellers!

Thank you for listening.

JFK – Voices of Oklahoma

It was 12:30 pm, November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

When the president was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital Dr. Jerry Gustafson was on duty. By listening to Chapter 6 of his oral history interview, you will hear Dr. Gustafson’s account of that day. Listen to the full interview below.

Gustafson, Dr. Jerry

Thank you for listening! Please share these stories with your friends.

Veterans Day 11-11-17– Voices of Oklahoma

Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
And Voices of Oklahoma joins that celebration by sharing the voices and stories of Oklahoma veterans.

You honor them by listening to their stories:

Shawnee Stewart-He talks about his emergency landing
Chapters 6, 7, 8:

Stewart, Shawnee

Paul Andert-Paul talks about his landing on Omaha Beach
Chapters 13, 14, 15:

Andert, Paul

Rex Calvert tells a riveting story about the Marshall Islands
Chapters 6, 7:

Calvert, Rex

Thank you for listening to these brave men!

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

The continued work of Voices of Oklahoma is underwritten by funding from our newest benefactors: Stuart and Linda Price Foundation (in honor of Professor Dobie Langenkamp, one of Oklahoma’s great minds and lover of Oklahoma history), George Kaiser Family Foundation, and corporate sponsor Laredo Petroleum.

Our thanks to these entities for sharing and supporting our vision to preserve oral history one voice at a time.

David Boren-Voices of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma President David Boren has announced he is retiring in 2018. Listening to his oral history interview you will hear about his five decades of public service including his journey to the presidency of OU. He talks about his shyness, his Oval Office meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt, his first election to the Oklahoma legislature and his days in Washington D.C.

In Chapter 24, President Boren related an interesting story about his friendship with former South African President Nelson Mandela. Listen here for the full story.

Share with your friends and thank you for listening!

-John Erling

History Byte-Voices of Oklahoma

The Tulsa Race Riot began May 30, 1921, the start of a Memorial Day weekend. Widely known as one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States, it left a mark on the city. Several storytellers at convey their first-hand accounts of the weekend in their oral history interviews and others describe the lasting impact on the community.

We are sharing portions of their comments in a six minute “History Byte.” Listen here to these Voices of Oklahoma.


Tulsa’s John Erling Inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame

TULSA — Tulsa radio legend John Erling was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame at the Oklahoma Historical Society’s annual awards luncheon on Friday, April 28.

In 1976 John Erling moved to Tulsa and hosted the KRMG morning radio show for 29 years. In 2009 Erling founded Voices of Oklahoma, an online oral history project dedicated to the preservation of the history of Oklahoma and its people. The debut interview was with Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.

“John Erling deserves to be inducted into the hall of fame,” said Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. “His 200-plus oral histories with influential Oklahomans have added to the state’s historical record. Both historians and the general public have access to these interviews and can use them to understand and share the past.”

Some of the notable Oklahomans interviewed by Erling include Stephen Jones, N. Scott Momaday, Roy Clark, Oral Roberts, Joyce Henderson and Henry Bellmon. In 2014 the Voices of Oklahoma project was moved to the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at the University of Tulsa.

Erling joined three other individuals selected by the Oklahoma Historical Society for induction into the 2017 class of the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame. The other honorees were Dr. Clyde Ellis, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Dr. Paul Lambert, Oklahoma City; and Dr. John Carmichael, deceased.

The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit

Voices of Oklahoma 7th Anniversary

As we celebrate the seventh anniversary of Voices of Oklahoma, we give thanks to those who have recorded their oral histories for our future generations. Nearly two hundred Oklahomans have become the storytellers of their own experiences. The online collection covers many topics, but the strengths are in World War II history, Oklahoma political history, Oklahoma business history, and civil rights history.

On April 10, 2010 we launched our first oral history interview with the first female chief of the Cherokee nation, Wilma Mankiller.  You honor her as you listen to her inspiring story.

We look forward to another year of collecting and archiving Oklahoma stories for where it is our mission to preserve Oklahoma’s legacy, one voice at a time.

Voices of Oklahoma is a proud partner with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at the University of Tulsa.