Wednesday, July 14, 2010

OKC History Buff? You'll Like New Website

A year-long effort to make Oklahoma City history more accessible goes public Thursday with the unveiling of Retro Metro OKC and the group’s website,

An informational email about it from President Steve Lackmeyer of The Oklahoman said that Retro Metro OKC is a pending 501c3 organization whose goal is to create an online exhibit of thousands of photos and documents relating to Oklahoma City's history, culture and heritage.

"The website debuts with more than 1,200 such materials, and thanks to a cooperative effort with the Oklahoma Historical Society and other area historical organizations, we hope to be adding many more historical Oklahoma City images in the near future," he said.

"Retro Metro OKC operates differently from other organizations, the email continues, in that we have no museum, we have no physical collections, and in most instances the materials we display remain in private ownership. In a typical situation our volunteer crews go to a home or business to scan an owner’s collection and the owner participates in the project by sharing information about the photos and documents as they are being scanned. The materials never have to leave an owner’s possession – the owner is simply asked to sign a release that allows for the materials to be displayed online.

"The owner of such materials is given a disc of the digitized images and documents – and copies also will be given to the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Metropolitan Library System to ensure they will be preserved for future generations.

"Retro Metro OKC’s founding members include historians, authors, planners, a preservation architect, a retired Greater Oklahoma City Chamber executive, a city councilman, a city clerk, business owners, graphic designers and filmmakers. Our common history is Oklahoma City history. Our youngest member is 17; our oldest members are in their 70s.

"Over the past year our members have tried to carefully assess the needs and wants of our community. In addition to creating on online display of historic materials, we’re also using our experience, talent and resources to help other history organizations. For us, we check egos at the door. It’s about the history.

"Our city’s history is waiting to be revealed and enjoyed. It resides in the photos left to us by our grandparents; it can be found in the postcards, souvenirs and letters gathering dust in the attic, in the stories of our relatives and in the archeology of old places.

"Our city’s history can only be truly appreciated and kept intact if it’s found, revealed, shared, enjoyed and passed on to future generations.

"Please feel free to visit and email any comments or questions to The site is interactive and allows for visitors to leave comments about photos and documents as they view specific collections. Updates about our activities can be followed via our Twitter account @retrometrookc."

Added Mike McCarville of The McCarville Report Online, who spent many boyhood years in downtown Oklahoma City, "the site and its emphasis on the city's history is a hot fudge sundae for those of us who love history and those who lived it, like Swift & Company General Manager Millard McCarville, who'd wave goodbye to his wife, three daughters and baby son at Northwest 29th and Classen every morning when he got on the trolley to go to work in what's now Bricktown."

Potential FAQs:

Q: The membership includes popular bloggers like Doug Loudenback. Does this mean he will no longer be operating

A: Gosh no! Doug’s website has an international audience and he will be continuing to provide his own take on history, the city’s heritage and current events. Doug’s influence can be found in kindergartens where his “Oklahoma Rising” video is played in classrooms, or on the Oklahoma River Cruisers where guides share history of the city they learned from Doug’s blog. Likewise, Steve Lackmeyer and Jack Money will continue to operate, and Buddy Johnson will continue to dig into history with his Oklahoma Images collection at the downtown library. Justin Tyler Moore and Cody Cooper can hardly go a day without exploring an abandoned historic property and sharing their discoveries at

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