Blackwell Museum is taking bold leaps into the future

August 25, 2022

No ghosts were discovered during the revitalization of the Top of Oklahoma Historical Society Museum in Blackwell. However, all sorts of treasures have been unearthed during the second phase of the museum’s massive inventory project, made possible by a grant from the Oklahoma Historical Society.

“Inventory may not sound exciting, but the results of that inventory are exciting,” said Marion Tucker, a board member and grant supervisor.

Half of the museum has been remodeled, including painting, flooring, lighting and a remodeled bathroom.

Inventoried areas include the Native American history, military, music, tornado, archive, community, school and railroad rooms. The inventory brought to light stories like that of Blackwell’s World War I hero, Russell Litchfield.

The 19-year-old Marine pharmacist mate was killed in France while carrying wounded soldiers from the trenches to hospitals. For his bravery, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross. More stories of individuals and special artifacts are now on display in a revamped archive room, where historical records are also available for public research.

The 2021 Oklahoma Historical Society grant of $20,000 began the inventory process using professional software so that the museum’s vast collection can be viewed online. Visitors to the museum will be able to use an iPad to search for specific things.

“All the elements were in place to bring the museum into the 21st century,” Tucker said.

“We have the support of the City of Blackwell and the museum board of directors, an outstanding museum director and volunteers willing to help. The second grant of $20,000 allows us to inventory the second third of the museum.”

Because the museum’s collections are large, tackling the inventory went from a single person doing all the jobs to a collaborative effort.

Tucker now supervises an inventory process. Organizing all items, numbering them and recording vital information is done by one person: J. Wayne Hudson.

The data entry of all recorded items is done by Myrna Oldham, and the professional photos are taken by Brad Matson, a Northern Oklahoma College instructor.

“We learned so much doing the first grant,” Tucker said.

“The collaborative process this time has allowed us to get the basics done faster. This allows for in-depth research on more items. This also allows us to get an overview of the collections, what we have, where it is and what we need to make our collections tell a more complete story.”