Leading Ladies: Women Who Shaped Early Tulsa

Leading Ladies: Women Who Shaped Early Tulsa

NOW CLOSED (September 2013 – July 2014)

In its earliest years as a town, the streets of Tulsa were a man’s world. The community was full of laborers, outlaws, cowboys, and entrepreneurs.  It was a rowdy place and there were few activities outside the home for women other than attending one of the local churches – even schools were scarce in Indian Territory.  As time passed, and more women moved to the new town, the ladies of Tulsa began looking for more activities and cultural opportunities that had been available in their former hometowns.  In those first few decades of Tulsa, women established schools, cultural organizations, and civic groups that changed the landscape of Tulsa both then and now. This exhibit shares a few of their stories, including those of Lilah Denton Lindsey, Jane Heard Clinton, Fannie Brownlee Misch, and Tosca Berger Kramer.

  • Tulsa’s Women\'s Christian Temperance Union members on the porch of Dr. Fred & Jane Clinton\'s home, 1910. Jane Clinton is to the left of the children in the front row.
  • C&A Industrial School of Tulsa, c. 1909. Lilah Lindsey sponsored this school which was established to teach trades to orphaned children.
  • Reception honoring Lillian M.N. Stevens, National President of the WCTU, and Anna Gordon, her Vice President, given by Tulsa WCTU President Lilah Lindsey, c. 1910. The reception was at the home of Mrs. Samuel C. Davis following a parade from the Brady Hotel. The parade began at 1:30 when a number of local WCTU members and friends arrived in buggies and formed a procession to show them the city and surrounding countryside.
  • Tulsa Mayor T.D. Evans (seated at table) signing the bonds to create the Spavinaw Creek Dam, 1921. Lilah Lindsey is standing in the middle of the group.
  • 1906 Christmas party in the home of Lilah Lindsey at 1205 South Guthrie.
  • Jane Clinton and friends
  • Fannie Brownlee Misch, Tulsa historian
  • Fannie Brownlee, center, in Elk City, OK, 1908. Fannie was on a week-long school break from her teaching job in Donley County, Texas.  Several years later she would move to Tulsa and begin researching Tulsa history and writing both articles and books on the subject.

What their contemporaries said:

“In her work for her city [Lilah] Lindsey has been a searchlight, seeking out the needs of the city before it felt them.”

Jane Clinton “was a pioneer in building the soul of the city.”

“[Fannie] Misch’s contributions to Tulsa’s understanding of its history were without peer.”

Tosca Berger Kramer’s “violin solos on Sunday morning have become a tradition, enjoyed not only by members but visitors and those who come especially for the privilege of hearing [her].”