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In 1927, Anna B. Korn founded the Oklahoma Memorial Association and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame to honor Oklahomans who had given outstanding service to the state during their lifetimes. That same year, the Oklahoma City-based organization held the first official Oklahoma statehood day celebration, and the following year the organization inducted the first class into the
Oklahoma Hall of Fame
In 1960, the nonprofit organization began considering building a facility to display the busts and portraits of
Hall of Fame inductees
. A decade later, the Hefner family donated the Hefner Mansion to the organization as a place to do just that. Renovations and restoration began on the mansion, which was renamed the Oklahoma Heritage House. In the midst of preparing a fitting place to recognize inductees, the organization’s board also reconsidered its name. In 1971, the board voted to change the name to Oklahoma Heritage Association to reflect the organization’s expanded role in the preservation of Oklahoma history.
In 1972, the Oklahoma Heritage House opened to the public, and to celebrate, the first OHA Garden Party was held. That same year, the Association held its first annual awards ceremony to recognize individuals who preserve Oklahoma history.
Three years later, the Association published its first book The Judge: The Life of Robert A. Hefner by Clifford Earl Trafzer, which was also the first biography in its Trackmaker series. In 1977, the Association began its Heritage Week poster and essay competition for fourth through 12th graders as a part of its statehood celebrations. In 1991, the Association started its scholarship competition, in which high school students across the state take a test on Oklahoma history. Three years later, the scholarship competition was expanded to provide at least one scholarship in every county, and in 1994, the OHA began offering the
John W. and Mary Nichols four-year scholarship
to one high school senior.
2001 brought a new beginning to the organization when it purchased the historic Mid-Continent Life Insurance Building in Oklahoma City from American Fidelity Assurance Company with a gift from Edward L. Gaylord. In 2004, the Association began renovating and refurbishing the building to create a new
Oklahoma Heritage Museum
that would tell Oklahoma’s history through its people. One year later, Boone Pickens matched Gaylord’s gift to provide the Association funds for the renovations of the facility and development of exhibitory.
In late 2006, the Association’s staff moved into the 1927 facility in preparation for the grand opening of the
Edward L. Gaylord-T. Boone Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum
on May 10, 2007, 80 years to the date after the historic building was opened for the first time. Since opening, the high-tech, interactive Museum that focuses on telling Oklahoma's story through its people, has been named the 2008 Best New Attraction in Oklahoma, a 2008 Oklahoma City Nickelodeon Parents' Pick for Teens, the 2009 Outstanding Attraction in Frontier Country and the 2009 Oklahoma City Nickelodeon Parents' Pick for Kids.