A Book originally published in 1941, as part of the Works Progress Administration Federal Writers Project, by the University of Oklahoma Press. A part of “The American Guide Series”, this book gives a brief history of Oklahoma, writeups of important cities of the time, and 15 Visitor tours along US and State highways of the time. Editors of the book were Angie Debo and John M. Oskison. A writeup title “The Spirit of Oklahoma” written by Edward Everett Dale

The WPA Guide to 1930s Oklahoma was published in 1941 as the final volume in the Federal Writers’ Project American Guide Series. Despite the passage of years it still offers travelers in the region an opportunity to see the state from a refreshed perspective.

Oklahoma follows the standard WPA guide format; it is divided into three major sections covering the history and background of the state, describing its principal cities, and presenting carefully plotted automobile tours. Perhaps the most interesting and pervasive element of Oklahoma’s history is the former Indian occupation of this region. The Five Civilized Tribes–Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles–held the territory for many years before allowing white settlement, and Native American influence on the state’s culture remains prevalent today. Because the Oklahoma territories were not opened to pioneers until 1889, the memory of early settlement and statehood was still strong when the guide was first published and the first generation of Oklahomans were told their stories.

In addition to reminding us of the unique heritage of Oklahoma, the guide book also provides important documentation of the state during the 1930s–that time of economic depression that threatened even the hardiest pioneer spirit. With its discussions of industry, labor, transportation, agriculture, and education, the guide offers a particular insight into the life and lifestyles of Oklahomans of that era. Likewise the descriptions of the cities are vivid pictures of the state’s twelve major settlements, dependent in large part on prosperity that flowed from the oil business.

And the cities, of course, lead the way for the automobile tours. Twenty-two such tours are laid out to permit the traveler–whether on the road or at home–to traverse the state accompanied by keen observations and insightful explanations. Several of the tours include the border cities in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas–making this volume truly a find for today’s regional explorers.

This reprint edition both restores an originally composed, but deleted, essay by the historian Angie Debo, and adds a new introduction by Anne Hodges Morgan.

WriterWorking Years
Angie Debo
John M. Oskison
Edward E. Dale
Louis L’Amour


  1. Oklahoma History Center

Supported Documents:

The Tours:

Tour 1: (Baxter Springs, Kans.) – Tulsa – Oklahoma City – El Reno – Clinton – Sayre – (Shamrock, Tex.) [US 66]
Section a. Kansas Line to Tulsa
Section b. Tulsa to Oklahoma City
Section c. Oklahoma City to Texas Line
Tour 2: (Fort Smith, Ark.) – Gore – Muskogee – Tulsa – Enid – Alva – Guymon – Kenton – (Raton, N.M.) [US 64]
Section a. Arkansas Line to Tulsa
Section b. Tulsa to Enid
Section c. Enid to New Mexico Line
Tour 3: Keystone – Cushing – Langston – Guthrie [State 33]
Tour 3A: Junction US 62 – Fort Sill – Junction US 62 [Fort Sill Road]
Tour 3B: Junction US 62 – Medicine Park – Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge – Indiahoma [State 49, Meers Highway, Scenic Highway]

Tour 4: (Seneca, Mo.) – Bartlesville – Ponca City – Enid – (Canadian, Tex.) [US 60]
Section a. Missouri Line to Bartlesville
Section b. Bartlesville to Enid
Section c. Enid to Texas Line
Tour 5: Junction US 271 – McAlester – Oklahoma City – Watonga – Seiling [US 270]
Section a. Junction US 271 to McAlester
Section b. McAlester to Harrah
Section c. Harrah to Seiling

Tour 6: (De Queen, Ark.) – Hugo – Durant – Ardmore – (Burkburnett, Tex.) [US 70]

Tour 7: (Fort Smith, Ark.) – Pateau – Talihina – Antlers – Hugo – (Paris, Tex.) [US 271]

Tour 8: (Columbus, Kans.) – Vinita – Muskogee – McAlester – Atoka – Durant – (Dension, Tex.) [US 69]

Section a. Kansas Line to Muskogee
Section b. Muskogee to Texas Line

Tour 9: (Independence, Kans.) – Bartlesville – Tulsa – Okmulgee – Calvin -Atoka [US 75]
Tour 9A: (Coffeyville, Kans.) – Collinsville – Tulsa [US 169]

Tour 10: (Arkansas City, Kans.) – Ponca City – Oklahoma City – Ardmore (Gainesville, Tex.) [US 77]

Section a. Kansas Line to Muskogee
Section b. Muskogee to Texas Line

Tour 10 A: Davis – Sulphur – Platt National Park – Junction US 70 [State 7, State 19, Perimeter Blvd.]

Tour 11: (Caldwell, Kans) – Enid – El Reno – Chickasha – (Ringgold, Tex.) [US 81]

Tour 12: (Ashland, Kans.) – Woodward – Selling – Frederick – (Vernon, Tex.) [US 183]

Tour 13: (Englewood, Kans.) – Arnett – Sayre – Altus – (Vernon, Tex.) [US 283]

Tour 14: (Sedan, Kans.) – Hominy – Drumright – Ada – Tishomingo – (Denison, Tex.) [State 99]

Tour 15: Junction US 60 – Fairland – Jay – Westville – Sallisaw – Heavener – (Mena, Ark.) [US 59]

Tour 15 A: Junction US 59 – Big Cedar – Bethel – Broken Bow – Junction US 70 [Unnumbered Road, State 21]

Tour 16: Lake Francis Dam (Watts) – Tahlequah – Cookson – Junction US 64 [Illinois River]