The Helmerich Center for American Research

Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum

The University of Tulsa’s Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum houses the Gilcrease Library and Archive containing more than 100,000 rare books, documents, maps, and unpublished works. The collection includes a vast archive of printed documents, dating back to the time of Columbus, that detail Spanish arrival in the New World, as well as documents that tell the stories of the New England colonies, Westward expansion and the experiences of America’s native peoples.

The center enhances scholarship opportunities relating to Gilcrease Museum and its collection. Visiting faculty, students and scholars from around the world visit the 25,000 square-foot-facility to conduct research on the museum’s archival material. The Helmerich Center also houses The Bob Dylan Archive.


Twice a year, the Helmerich Center hosts symposia for findings based on research of the Gilcrease collection and international scholars present these to an academic and general audience. The inaugural symposium held in March 2015 titled The Gilcrease Archives: Unlocking the History of the Americas, marked the academic opening of the Helmerich Center. Most notably from that symposium, Dr. Fenella France, chief of Preservation Research and Testing Division, Library of Congress, disclosed in her findings that Silas Deane penned Gilcrease Museum’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Past and future symposia:

Visiting Scholars Program

The Helmerich Center for American Research in conjunction with Gilcrease Museum and The University of Tulsa offers a Visiting Scholars Program. The program is designed to encourage research and writing based on the collections of Gilcrease Museum and the Special Collections of the McFarlin Library at TU, for the purposes of exhibit development, publications, and symposia sponsored by the Helmerich Center for American Research.

The Visiting Scholars Program is designed to give academic researchers in relevant fields from throughout the world the opportunity to utilize and study the museum and library collections onsite. Scholars who receive awards will be asked to present at least one public lecture based on their research and submit a paper based on their research for a future publication. For more information contact Natalie Panther, Ph.D., program officer at the Helmerich Center,

Digital Curation

The digital curation team is housed in the H.A. and Mary K. Chapman Digitization Lab in the Helmerich Center. In the spring of 2016, the online collections site was launched to increase access and understanding of the collection. Additionally, the group has completed Phase One of the imaging and cataloging of the John Ross Papers. Utilizing a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the digitization team is establishing data standards, and imaging and cataloging 3,500 ceramic vessels from the museum’s Harry J. Lemley collection.