Tulsa Historical Society’s New Oklahoma Military Academy Exhibit Opens Saturday

The Tulsa Historical Society and Museum (THS) will open a new exhibit exploring the traditions, training, daily life and field service memorabilia of the students and leaders from one of our state’s most prestigious military colleges. The exhibition, titled “Courage, Loyalty & Honor: A History of Claremore’s Oklahoma Military Academy,” will be staged from mid-May through early 2016.

Michelle Place, executive director of THS, said of the importance of featuring life at the academy, “Part of our mission as a respected research repository is to bring the voices of our community’s past to light, and in this case, we can through the photos, documents and artifacts of our state’s pre-eminent military academy, an institution that trained and educated more than 10,000 Oklahomans, many from Tulsa.”

As part of the exhibit’s grand opening, and in recognition of Armed Forces Day on May 16, THS will show the award-winning OMA documentary, “Oklahoma Military Academy: West Point of the Southwest,” and host a panel discussion. Attendance to the two screenings, panel discussion and exhibit are free to the public on that Saturday in the Travis Mansion, located at 2445 S. Peoria in Tulsa.

The documentary was produced by RSU Public Television in conjunction with the OMA Alumni Association and Rogers State University. The film features the narration of national award-winning journalist Bill Kurtis and was written by author John Wooley, who has written two books on OMA’s history. OMA 1953 graduate Shawnee Brittan, winner of multiple international cinema awards, served as the documentary’s producer/director.

“OMA had a well-deserved reputation for excellence and graduated cadets known for discipline and self-control,” said Phil Goldfarb, president of the OMA Alumni Association and member of the OMA class of 1969.” “Here, thousands of young men were taught the school’s core values of courage, loyalty and honor in every aspect of their lives.  And, 80 percent of them served our country and represented Oklahoma, during times of war as well as peace…more than any other school in our state.”

The OMA exhibit will showcase stories and objects from life on ‘The Hill,’ the present-day location of RSU’s Claremore campus, and where the Military Academy operated from 1919-1971.

Visitors will be able to explore artifacts, images and documents from the Academy, which was founded just months after the end of World War I. Home to the first Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in Oklahoma, OMA expanded to become a six-year institution with on-site barracks, a cavalry program, polo team, the Flying Cadets and a respected “feeder” school sending young leaders on to Annapolis, West Point and the Air Force Academy. This exhibit tells their story. Details for the opening day events include:

  • 10 a.m. – Exhibit opens
  • 11 a.m. – First showing of the documentary, OMA: West Point of the Southwest
  • 12:05 p.m. – Opening ceremony (with color guard)
  • 12:15 p.m. – Panel discussion with Goldfarb; Gene Little, OMA class of 1956 and Curator of the OMA Museum; Wooley; Brittan; and Danette Boyle, Executive Director of the OMA Alumni Association
  • 1:30 p.m. – Second showing of the OMA documentary

The OMA exhibit will remain open for exploration at regular THS entry prices during normal business hours Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The OMA history documentary DVD will be available for sale in the THS gift kiosk along with Wooley’s books “Voices from the Hill” and “100 Years on the Hill.”

About Tulsa Historical Society:
The mission of the Tulsa Historical Society is to illuminate the past, enrich the present, and inspire future generations by collecting, preserving and presenting Tulsa’s history. A respected research repository, Tulsa Historical Society holds an extensive collection of resources on our city’s rich past, including more than 80,000 still photographas, books, maps, documents, graphics, historical costumes and architectural remnants, and fine and decorative arts. The museum utilizes its collection to create exhibits featuring stories from Tulsa’s past as well as provide educational programming to schools and civic groups. Established in 1963, the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. To learn more about THS, visit: www.tulsahistory.org, or “Like” it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tulsahistory

About the Oklahoma Military Academy:
Known as the “West Point of the Southwest,” the Oklahoma Military Academy operated in Claremore, Oklahoma, from 1919 to 1971 as a high school and junior college. More than 10,000 cadets walked through the gates on College Hill and the school’s alumni include successful businessmen, entrepreneurs, high-ranking government officials, writers, moviemakers and thousands of military officers, including 11 generals. In 1971, OMA transitioned to Claremore Junior College, and today it operates as Rogers State University.