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More Colorful 100-Year-Old Chalkboard Art Found At Oklahoma City High School

One of the newly discovered 1917 chalkboard drawings from Emerson High School in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City Public Schools
One of the newly discovered 1917 chalkboard drawings from Emerson High School in Oklahoma City.

Friday morning Oklahoma City Public Schools officials announced they'd found more historic chalkboards from 1917 while continuing renovations at Emerson High School just north of downtown.

The newly discovered blackboards date from December 1917. They include a map of Oklahoma's Indian Territory, with the tribal boundaries and capitals clearly defined, as well as a calendar with an intricate flower pattern, and a drawing showing several houses.

Emerson High School principal Sherry Kishore said seeing the old chalkboards is like walking into a time capsule.

"It was like the teacher had left the day before, and you’re coming in to see what the homework was yesterday,” Kishore said. “It had the kids’ names on the wall. So it’s like you just walked through a door in to another generation.”

Constuction workers renovating the building found the first set of drawings over the summer. They had been covered up by newer walls, but Kishore says she doesn’t think there are any more hiding.

Math teacher Sherry Read said it’s been fun trying to decipher some of the old drawings.

“It’s almost been like Egyptian hieroglyphics,” Reed said. “We found a bunch of names on the boards. And it’s like, 'Is this because they were good, or because they were bad…'” 

The initial discovery over the summer attracted nationwide attention, and in July district officials voted to temporarily cover the chalkboards to preserve them. Eventually they may be displayed behind plexiglass.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
In graduate school at the University of Montana, Emily Wendler focused on Environmental Science and Natural Resource reporting with an emphasis on agriculture. About halfway through her Master’s program a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love. She has since reported for KBGA, the University of Montana’s college radio station and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio. She is very excited to be working in Oklahoma City, and you can hear her work on all things from education to agriculture right here on KOSU.
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