Tag Archives: local history

A brief history of the Pryor Public Library

You may realize that Pryor and its surrounding areas have a fascinating and unique history. But did you know the Pryor Public Library has a rich history all its own?

The earliest beginnings of a library in Pryor start in 1914 With the I.O.O.F. (International Organization of Odd Fellows) and their female ancillary organization, the Rebekahs. The Rebekahs spearheaded a project to provide a free library, which was housed within the I.O.O.F. Lodge.

Going forward a few years, the Pryor Busy Bee Home Demonstration Club also organized a free library project to service the citizens of Pryor. Starting in the early 1930s, the library was shuffled around to a few different locations including a couple of downtown shops. At one point the library was lodged within the home of a Busy Bees Club member!

In 1938 enough support was garnered within the community to start a public library on an institutional level. The City of Pryor voted and approved a levy in its budget for a real, bonafide public library. The Pryor Public Library became a real thing!

graham blgPHOTO: Graham Community Building. Thompson Studio. 1946.
bookmarkPHOTO: Bookmark from the Pryor Public Library, circa 1947

You may have an idea about how the rest of this story goes: for a while, the Pryor Public Library could be found on the second floor of City Hall. In September 1939 the library moved to the Graham Community Building. In 1958, after generous contributions from Thomas J. Harrison, the Pryor Public Library found itself housed within the building we all know and love today.

renderingPHOTO: Design Concept by famed mid-century architectural firm
Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson, Roloff Architects, Oklahoma City, OK.


PHOTO: Patrons enjoy their books in the reading room of the library. Circa 1959.

corneliaPHOTO: Library Director Cornelia Sifferman looks on from the Main Circulation desk. Circa 1959.

wake up

PHOTO: National Library Week campaign logo. American Library Association, 1959.
This logo was displayed around the Pryor Public Library.

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Find local history @ your library!

Arizona resident Lelah was in Mayes County visiting family when she decided to pay a visit to the town of her youth. Lelah just intended to drive around Pryor looking for familiar places from her growing-up years, but when she asked a passerby where she might find information about the school she attended, she was directed to the library.

Lelah with her niece Becky (right) andĀ  librarian Leslie Trogdon (left).

Before long she’d made a friend in our Genealogy librarian, Leslie Trogdon, and found more than she ever expected.

One of the unexpected things Lelah found was information about a long-lost classmate. She remembers attending grade school in New Mexico with a girl named Carmen. Later when Lelah’s family moved to the Pryor area, she felt that one of her new classmates looked very familiar – and soon realized that it was Carmen! After graduation Lelah lost track of Carmen and had always wondered what had happened to her.

When Ms. Trogdon opened a Pryor High School annual, there was Carmen’s picture. Then they were able to use findagrave.comĀ  to discover more information about Carmen and even see pictures of her as an adult. “It’s like a miracle!” Lelah said.

Pryor’s Main Street after the 1942 tornado.

She also found her own school pictures, and pictures from the Pryor tornado of 1942, which she remembers clearly.

“I found things I never dreamed I would find!”

You will finds all sorts of information in our Genealogy and local history archives – photographs, newspaper archives dating back to the days before statehood, school annuals, funeral records, and access to genealogy resources like Family Search, Heritage Quest, and Ancestry. Call us for more information: 918-825-0777.

And if you have local memories of your own, please share with us. Leave a comment here, or on Facebook, or come visit us in person. We want to hear your stories!

Come to the library and see what you can discover!

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