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100 Years of Preserving History: Artifacts from the University of Central Oklahoma’s Laboratory of History Museum (1915-2015)

The Museum Collection

military uniformIn 1915, the Central State Historical Society actively collected items for the new museum. By 1917, hundreds of items had been collected and the Society had grown to over 100 members. The collection included Native American items, photographs, historical furniture, books, weapons, documents, coins, Civil War items, pioneer objects, and material relating to early campus life.

Grandfather clockThe Central State Historical Society wanted their museum to act " a conservator of the remains of the past generations..." and also as " aggressive educational agency."

Collected documents, photographs, and objects, were used to teach history through the use of "original evidence".

The collection has grown to document more than a century of UCO history.


Permanent exhibits feature a chronology of UCO history beginning with its designation by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890 as the Territorial Normal School of Oklahoma.

Student preparing exhibitMuseum Director Heidi Vaughn and students in the Museum Studies program recently completed work on a new permanent exhibit detailing the early history of the University of Central Oklahoma and the birth and growth of Edmond from a small stop on the railroad to a bustling community preparing for statehood.

Student preparing World War I exhibitThe Normal School's first classes were held on Nov. 9, 1891, in the First Methodist Episcopal Church. Construction on the Normal School Building began the next year, making it the oldest building dedicated to higher education in what was once Oklahoma Territory. Today, that building is known as Old North.

Text, photographs, and artifacts document the university's history while also presenting the relation of national and international events to the lives of the students and changes on campus.

Do you have an item you would like to donate to the museum? Please fill out our donation form and museum staff will contact you.