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S2 Ep3: Oklahoma's DNA

What’s in Oklahoma’s DNA, historically speaking, that can help explain the state’s unique culture, laws, politics, and identity? There’s no one better to discuss this than Dr. Bob Blackburn, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. In this episode, we’ll look at the state’s occasionally chaotic history, its approach to criminal justice, its outsized artistic impact, divisions between urban and rural communities, and many more aspects of what makes up Oklahoma’s DNA. 

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Links to additional information about topics discussed in this episode:

Is Oklahoma a Southern state? Southwestern? Midwestern? Plains? Something else entirely? Our guest on this episode has possibly the definitive answer. This article from This Land magazine also explores this tricky subject.

In this episode we discuss Sam Anderson's new book Boom Town, a "fantastical saga" about the history of Oklahoma City in which our guest is featured and referenced. Here is a great New York Times review of the book.

We also discuss the many varieties of accents found in Oklahoma. The Harvard University Dialect Survey revealed the most commonly used pronunciations in the state for words such as "crayon,"  "pecan," and "syrup."

Our guest also discusses the new biography of former Oklahoma governor William H. Miller by Robert L. Dorman, Alfalfa Bill: A Life in Politics.


The Oklahoma History Center is a world-class history museum and research center located near the state capitol. Current special exhibits on display include Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!: The Birth of Modern Musical Theatre and a New Image for the State.

About our guest:

Dr. Bob Blackburn is a native Oklahoman who grew up in Edmond, graduated from Putnam City High School, and earned a Ph.D. in history from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Blackburn has written or co-authored 23 books about the history of Oklahoma, and he was instrumental in the creation of the Oklahoma History Center. Here is a great NewsOK.com profile of Dr. Blackburn, "the face of Oklahoma history."