The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 472
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
through the first great rush at Red Fork in 1901, to the culmination of
the boom in the Oklahoma City oil field in the 1930s. It is a story rich
in adventure. Gushers, calamitous accidents, social upheaval, crime,
vice, fortune, and failure intrude into the otherwise rural environ-
ment of Indians, ranchers, and farmers. Fortunately, photographers
were often on hand to record the dramatic events; regrettably, they
paid less attention to the impact of the oil boom on more routine
This volume is a valuable contribution to the published photo-
graphic history of Oklahoma during those hectic years. Subjects se-
lected for inclusion in Early Oklahoma Oil provide a vivid record of
the dramatic events associated with oil production. But greater se-
lectivity and a wider search of photographic archives might have pro-
duced fewer illustrations of gushers and a more balanced coverage
of the sometimes neglected dimensions of oil history: refining, dis-
tribution, and marketing. Less dramatic, these subjects are no less
important to the story. Only Oklahoma sources are cited. Since oil
companies and the nomadic oil boomers ranged widely across the
mid-continent oil region from Texas to Kansas, other state as well as
national collections would have produced additional photographs of
the Oklahoma oil boom from which to select illustrations for this
The narrative accompanying the photographs is fast paced and in-
formative. Not intended to be definitive, its survey of the breadth of
the oil boom experienced in Oklahoma is nonetheless inclusive. Oc-
casional analytical comments beg for detail: which boom towns proved
or disproved that "where prosperity persisted over a sufficient period
of time, the forces of law and order ultimately dominated" (p. 6)? The
narrative also reflects a body of thoughtful scholarship and a wealth
of rich primary sources. Yet the authors neither cite these individually,
nor provide a bibliography. Such a bibliography would certainly have
included the "Oil in Oklahoma" oral history collection at the Uni-
versity of Oklahoma, which is probably the source of several quoted
firsthand accounts (pp. 83-84)-
Though susceptible to some criticism, Early Oklahoma Oil is a
welcome addition to the literature on petroleum history and is an
important second volume in the Montague History of Oil Series. As a
"visual tour" (p. xi) of the oil period, it should be interesting and in-
formative for the casual reader and provocative for the serious scholar.
Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C.
DRUE L. DEBERRY
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982, periodical, 1981/1982; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/m1/530/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.