1903 OKC Chamber of Commerce Collection


NOTE: This intro was written by Retro Metro OKC founding member Doug Loudenback in 2008, the same year the organization got its start. Another founding member, Dean Schirf, the now retired longtime corporate secretary for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, lent Doug a 1903 Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce publication to scan and post online. The same book was then provided to Retro Metro OKC to post online as well. The intent, as Doug noted, was to distribute the publication to businesses located outside of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma Territory as it then existed.

By Doug Loudenback:

Jump back in time to 1903, 105 years ago. Oklahoma City was only 14 years old, barely pubescent. In that time, just as now, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce was proactively involved in attracting people and businesses to Oklahoma City. This 1903 book is essentially a 250 or so page advertisement showing off Oklahoma City to the world, inviting any who would come to settle here. The glossy-paper book represents Oklahoma City putting its best foot forward to make such an invitation.

Aside from the copy which is in the possession of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, it is quite possible that no other copies of this book any longer exist, or, if they do, they are probably in private collections. In modern times, until 2005, the Chamber itself did not have a copy. It came to have one by the sharp eye and courtesy of Jim Fentriss (at the time owner of Fentriss Sound).

The book was very well-done according to the standards and capabilities which existed in 1903. Printed on glossy paper, the images are somewhat grainy but better than the quality of images we’d see in newsprint, and, of course, some images are better than others. All images provide a marvelous look at Oklahoma City in 1903 and give occasional insight as to prevailing notions of what was socially permissible at the time.