The Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City is dedicated to educating the public about women who played an integral role in the establishment of our state.
The museum itself was dedicated in 1958 to establish a place to celebrate the rich heritage of Oklahoma, especially the women of that era.
The Oklahoma Historical Society assumed operation of the museum in the mid-1990s, and in 2013, it underwent a major expansion and renovation.
Activities and a celebration of the women who contributed to the development of Oklahoma are planned through March to mark National Women’s History Month.
“We just reopened Aug. 31. The museum was closed for the majority of 2013,” said Robbin Davis, museum director. “Since late last year, our primary focus [has been] bringing people in and letting them know this museum is really a gem.”
This month, the museum hosts an educational series about the demanding life and anything-is-possible attitude of the pioneers and the often-mundane activities that we take for granted.
In front of the museum stands a bronze statue of the Pioneer Woman, greeting visitors as a tribute to the idealism and bravery of those who endured hardship to carve out an existence on the harsh and unforgiving landscape that was the Oklahoma frontier.
The statue has become a symbol that illustrates courage and determination — her eyes are fixed firmly on the horizon while she strides confidently forward, in the direction of her dreams for herself and her family.
Saturday presentations will be a mixture of living history reenactments and formal presentations on a variety of topics, from craft projects to stories about life on the frontier — all have been designed to bring pioneer existence to life.
“We want to get people engaged, and we want to get them thinking about what it is that women have contributed to our state and its history,” Davis said of Women’s History Month.
On March 8, there will be two living history presentations by local historians about life during the statehood era. The first will be about a mail-order bride from Richmond, Va. The second presentation will be a glimpse into the world of Stella Louise Wilson-Johnson, the wife of a powerful attorney. The stories are from first-person accounts, journals and letters of Oklahoma residents.
“Our focus is telling the stories of the pioneering women who made Oklahoma a great state,” Davis said.
On March 15, another presentation will cover “rural feminism” in the American Midwest and the role of rodeo cowgirls. Rodeo women were successful and independent, and they traveled the country alone. They also earned their own money, not exactly the status quo for a single gal in the 1930s.
March 22 will feature a presentation on the women’s suffrage movement, illustrated with stories by Oklahoma women who crusaded for the right to vote.
“It’s such a fun way to learn,” Davis said. “The characters are based on a set of actual circumstances that happened in this state.”
March 29 will include a session in which participants will handcraft a visual narrative of a woman’s journey, based on stories from books that are sentimental to them. Books also will be provided.
Throughout the month, there will be additional demonstrations and craftmaking opportunities to enrich hands-on learning. Ponca City is about 106 miles from Oklahoma City.