News from Voices of Oklahoma…

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.

Will Rogers Last Living Relative Dies

Doris “Coke” Meyer died at the age of ninety-seven on January 29, 2017. She was Will Rogers great niece and his last living relative. In her Voices of Oklahoma interview recorded in 2009, Coke tells the story of “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son.” Listen to her recount his life here.  

Frosty Troy

Frosty Troy, the founding editor of the Oklahoma Observer was eighty-three when he died on January 19, 2017. He covered state and national politics, government, and social issues for a half century.  As a public speaker he traveled the nation and on the radio his daily commentaries were carried by stations across the state. He was also a favorite commencement speaker at high school graduations.

Listen here to his sometimes blunt manner of speaking as he tells his life story. Be sure to listen to Chapter 16—George Wallace.

Tommy Allsup

It was 1947 and Tommy Allsup was a sophomore in high school when he organized a Western-style band called the Oklahoma Swing Billies. Following graduation, he became a member of Johnnie Lee Wills & All the Boys. They performed in many venues including Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. Allsup met Buddy Holly in 1958 which led to the famous coin flip for a seat on an airplane in the winter of 1959—also known as “the day the music died.”

Voices of Oklahoma recorded Tommy’s oral history September 8, 2011. The recording was made at the home of music historian, Guy Logsdon, who also participated in the interview. Tommy knew how to tell a story and he was at his best for this recording. 

He was 85 when he died January 11, 2017. Chapters 8 and 9 feature the coin flip story. Listen here. 

Share with Tommy’s fans and keep listening to Oklahoma’s oral history website.

Seventy-five Years Ago Today

It was seventy-five years ago, December 7, 1941, when Petty Officer Robert (Bob) Norman was sitting on his bunk aboard the battleship USS Nevada as the Japanese launched their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. The time was 7:55 that Sunday morning when his ship was torpedoed and hit with ten bombs. With bullets and bombs flying all around him, Bob Norman made a heroic rescue of a stranded ensign.

Bob Norman tells the story of the day before and the day of the attack: Listen to Chapters 3 and 4 for the day before and the day of the attack. Chapter 5 features the heroic rescue. Voices of Oklahoma salutes Captain Norman and all those who experienced the attack on Pearl Harbor seventy-five years ago! 

Veterans Day-Voices of Oklahoma

We honor and thank our brave men and women who have served our country, protecting our freedom including the right to vote. Voices of Oklahoma offers these veteran voices from Oklahoma as they describe their days on the battle field.

Shawnee Stewart: Chapters 7–9

Rex Calvert: Chapters 6–8

Paul Andert: Chapters 8–9

Catharine Kingsley: Chapters 9–11