"Oklahoma!" and Artifacts

Oklahoma Historical Society

View artifacts that a real-life Aunt Eller, Laurey, or Will might have used!

Dress 3, 1900, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society
The musical "Oklahoma!" is set around the turn of the twentieth century, just before Oklahoma statehood. Here are a few items Aunt Eller, Curly, Ado Annie, Curly, and Will might have used. 
Butter churn, 1800/1830, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society

The show opens with Aunt Eller sitting on stage churning butter.

This churn, made of cedar with iron bands, was brought from Arkansas to Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, in the late 1800s but was made around 1820.This is the type of churn that a real-life Aunt Eller would have used in territorial Oklahoma.

Rocking chair, 1903, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society

This rocking chair, owned by the Biggers family in Oklahoma Territory in 1903, is the kind of furniture that might have been found in Laurey and Aunt Eller’s home.

Camisole and petticoat, 1900, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society

In "Many a New Day," Laurey and the girls are getting ready for the town’s box social. Throughout much of the scene, the girls perform a dance in their petticoats.

Made of cotton and shell, the camisole and petticoat featured here were worn in 1900 by Mrs. R. A. Grantham of Oklahoma Territory.

Dress 2, 1903, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society

Of all the women in “Oklahoma!” Ado Annie wore the brightest colors. She might have worn something like this 1903 dress made of cotton and lace.

Dress 3, 1900, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society

For more formal wear, a three-piece ensemble with corset, collar, and a skirt with a slight train might have been worn by the ladies of “Oklahoma!” This dress, from Indian Territory at the turn of the twentieth century, is one example of said formal attire.

Stereoscope, Keystone View Co., 1909, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society

In “Oklahoma!” the character Will Parker brings a device called the “Little Wonder” back to Oklahoma from Kansas City. The Little Wonder allows Will to show photographs from his travels to his friends in Claremore. This stereoscope served a similar purpose for the Worley family in Oklahoma in 1909. Cards with photographs from places such as the Grand Canyon and New York allowed citizens to view other parts of the country without physical travel.

Turkish Trophies Cigarettes premium, Hamilton King, 1903, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society

Famously, the character Jud Fry keeps postcards of women on the walls of the smokehouse in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” Though there would have been many ways to acquire such images, including buying them off of a passing peddler, some such photographs would likely have come inside the packages of cigarettes.

Cigarette premium, 1880/1919, From the collection of: Oklahoma Historical Society

This cigarette premium was made between 1880 and 1919. Images of “fine ladies of the theatre” and other beautiful young women were included with cigarettes as novelties to help promote cigarette sales. Victorian ideals dictated that the women were almost always demure, with “American” features.

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