OSU History Student Secures $150k Grant


Oklahoma State University doctoral candidate Eric Singleton was awarded a $150,000 grant for a project that’s expected to provide greater access into the culture of the Native American mound builders who flourished in the U.S. from 800 to 1600 A.D. 

The grant, from the Institute of Museum and Library Studies, will allow Singleton to digitize and create an online database of the Gilcrease Museum’s Harry J. Lemley collection, which contains approximately 3,500 Mississippian ceramics. ericsingleton1

Singleton and co-principal investigator Diana Folsom will inventory, catalogue, and digitally image the collection.  In addition to his graduate work at OSU, Singleton serves as assistant curator of anthropology at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa.  Folsom is the digitization project manager at the museum.  

“The OSU Department of History is very proud of its long-established public history program and is excited to expand its new initiatives in digital history,” said Dr. Laura A. Belmonte, professor and head of the OSU Department of History.  “Many of our graduate students are playing a vital role in the museum community of Oklahoma and projects like Eric’s are essential to expanding scholarly access to priceless artifacts. We congratulate him on this impressive achievement.” 

The mound-building culture started in the Mississippi River Valley, where it got its name. While the mounds were of various shapes, they were usually used as a base for the construction of buildings such as houses, temples or tombs. 

To ensure the accuracy of the information associated with the Lemley Collection, the images and records will be uploaded into a password-protected review site for expert scholar and artist tagging, review and approval of terms, and cultural assessment. At the conclusion of the project, the digital images of the Lemley collection will be made available to researchers, native artists, and the general public via the museum's website (http://gilcrease.utulsa.edu).