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Archive for January, 2012

By the late nineteenth century, thousands of people flooded into the twin territories of what is now the State of Oklahoma. One observant woman chronicled the acculturation of the Southern Plains Indians, the expansion into their territory by American farmers and tradesmen, and the blending of the two cultures.

In 1890 Annette Ross Hume and her two sons accompanied her husband to his new appointment on the Wichita, Kiowa, and Cheyenne Reserve. Dr. Charles R. Hume provided care for four thousand tribal patients spread over eighteen-hundred acres of undeveloped rivers, plains, and canyons. Like many wives of physicians and clergy, Annette took an active role in ensuring his professional success. An educated woman from Ohio, and active in the Home Missionary Board of the Presbyterian Church, she promoted the establishment of the institutions of church, education, and cultural enrichment in the Anadarko area.

A member of the DAR, Mrs. Hume’s love for genealogy prompted her to record the changing way of life of the terrority’s inhabitants. This goal coincided with technological advancements made in the art of photography.[1]

Annette’s portrait studio consisted of a blanket hung on her porch as a backdrop. Her most famous subject was the renowned Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. Soon she ventured out in her buggy to capture children who attended local Indian schools, mothers with babies snuggled tight in elaborately decorated cradleboards, and proud nations dressed in their best buckskins. Alongside these are scenes of everyday chores: drying meat, scraping hides, or building a grass arbor. As times changed, tipis sat next to log cabins and proud faces in buckskin were intermingled with those in Anglo dress. Early white settlers soon joined in the mix.

A lottery established the City of Anadarko in August 1901. Annette Ross Hume’s collection chronicled every step of that process from a tent city in a corn field; one entrepreneur’s fruit stand beckoned you to try a Dr. Pepper, into a bustling frontier town.

In 1930 Mrs. Hume was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. The artist’s collection of glass plate negatives are part of the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Examples of her work may be viewed online at the Western History Collections University of Oklahoma Libraries, at http://libraries.ou.edu/etc/westhist/Hume/intro.html.


[1] Dry glass plate negatives replaced the wet that required the immediate application of a light sensitive gel before the surface dried. This change made a rolling dark room of chemicals unnecessary. At the same time American and European companies invented lighter less cumbersome cameras. The industry leader in America, George Eastman of Eastman Kodak, introduced the world to film on rolls. His aim was to make photography available to everyone. George Eastman made up the word Kodak for his simple roll film cameras. It caught on with the public so he added it to the company name.

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