- Twentieth-Century Oklahoma: Reflections on the Forty-Sixth State by Richard Lowitt
As a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, Richard Lowitt regularly conducted research using the manuscript collections at the Western History Collections and the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, both housed at the University of Oklahoma. Lowitt's Twentieth-Century Oklahoma: Reflections on the Forty-Sixth State offers a collection of his previously published journal articles, most of which originally appeared in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Historical Society's quarterly journal. This volume traces Lowitt's examination of the political, economic, and social histories of Oklahoma's unique modern history.
In eleven chapters, Lowitt covers the grand sweep of modern Oklahoma history with topics ranging from politics, federal land use, and environmental history to agricultural history, water issues, and regionalism. The collection adds to a growing literature on Oklahoma history from W. David Baird and Danney Goble's Oklahoma: A History (Norman, Okla., 2008) to Main Street Oklahoma: Stories of Twentieth-Century America (Norman, Okla., 2013), an anthology I coedited with Linda W. Reese.
Lowitt opens his book with an essay on the development of regionalism during the late 1920s and 1930s at the University of Oklahoma. Under the leadership of President William Bennett Bizzell, the university established both the University of Oklahoma Press and its Civilization of the American Indian Series and the Western History Collections, housing manuscript collections on Oklahoma, American Indians, and the American West.
Lowitt's second chapter examines the correspondence between western historian Edward Everett Dale, a student of Frederick Jackson Turner's, and Dale's student Angie Debo, best known for her book And Still the Waters Run (Princeton, 1940). Although her dissertation turned first book, The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic (Norman, Okla., 1934), received the John H. Dunning Prize from the American Historical Association, Debo did not obtain a tenure-track position despite her unrelenting search. Lowitt's reading [End Page 461] of the correspondence guides the reader through Debo's scholarly journey during the 1930s and 1940s and Dale's consistent, yet distant, support of her work. Lowitt summarizes their relationship: "In a sense, Debo was invading Dale's turf. Oklahoma history was his field of specialization, and he had published numerous books examining state history as well. His entire career was involved in almost every way with Oklahoma history, and his 'favorite PhD,' who already had a national reputation rivaling and even surpassing his, appeared to be challenging him directly with an Oklahoma history of her own" (pp. 56–57).
Twentieth-Century Oklahoma demonstrates Lowitt's ability to maintain historical curiosity and to research all aspects of Oklahoma history. The chapters in this volume showcase sources at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center and the Western History Collections. Oklahoma history and Oklahoma historians have benefited from Richard Lowitt's significant contributions to the field.