The New York Times has opened up some of its most historic archives to the public. TimesMachine offers a look at any New York Times edition from 1851 through 1922. I decided to see if I could find how the paper of record covered Oklahoma’s statehood. It wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be.
First, I went back to read the front page of the Nov. 17, 1907 edition. There was nothing there about statehood, although there was a complete report on the accidental incineration of the beard of a 70-year-old man who had never shaved.
Perhaps, I thought, the Times opted to run a story on the actual day Oklahoma became a state. But I could find nothing in the Nov. 16, 1907 paper.
So I returned to the Nov. 17 edition and began to flip through the pages. Eventually, on page 8 I found a fairly brief mention of President Theodore Roosevelt’s signing of a proclamation declaring Oklahoma’s statehood. You can see it yourself by clicking here.
As the Times noted: “There was absolutely no ceremony connected with the signing of the proclamation.”
Of course, we played it bit larger in The Oklahoman. Our banner headline read:
OKLAHOMA BECOMES STATE
Scratch of Quill Pen Lets The New State Into Union;
Indian Territory and Oklahoma Are Symbolically Wed.
The Oklahoman also managed to find room on the front page for a fatal saloon shooting. Here’s the flavor of that feature:
“In a pistol duel in Ed Conley’s saloon, 116 West First Street, at 8:15 o’clock last night — a little more than three hours before the prohibition law was applied by Sheriff Garrison and the police departement — Robert Johnson, bartender, was shot three times and is now believed to be in a dying condition at St. Anthony’s hospital.” (A later bulletin noted that Johnson had died.)
Perusing century-old newspapers is endlessly fascinating, with the advertisements often as revealing of the past as the news of the day and the manner in which it was reported.