On Exhibit

Our permanent gallery showcases the many facets of local history.... 

Experience the growth and development of Bartlesville and the surrounding areas through historical photographs, documents, and artifacts. Learn about Bartlesville, Cooweescoowee District, Indian Territory; the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 - the first commercial oil well in Oklahoma, and the many other people, places, and events that shaped this turn-of-the-century settlement on the Caney River into a modern, cosmopolitan community.

The facility currently housing the Bartlesville Area History Museum has a long history of its own. The building started as the Hotel Maire in 1913 and became the Burlingame Hotel in 1928. The Phillips Petroleum Company bought the building in 1970, and in the 1990s the building became home to the City of Bartlesville and the Bartlesville Area History Museum.

The stories and lives of pioneer leaders Nelson Franklin Carr served in the 6th Kansas Calvary during the Civil War, as had Jacob Bartles. Because he was married to Sarah Rogers, a Cherokee, Carr was allowed to move to move to Indian Territory in 1867. They established the first business, a trading post, and later a mill in what became Bartlesville. The couple also built the first school and hired Mellie Smith from Kansas to instruct 18 children.

The Museum also houses the Nelson Carr One Room School where local 3rd and 4th graders come and experience what school was like in the year 1910. For more information about attending the school, please visit the "Education" link at the top of this page.

The history of oil and mineral production is such an important part of Bartlesville's history that several displays are dedicated to relating the history of the people and companies that made Bartlesville a world center for the petroleum and mineral industries. Here, a piece of the original casing head of the Nellie Johnstone #1 is on diplay (at top left), as well as maps of natural gas production and brochures from Bartlesville's days as a leading producer of Zinc.


The history of Native Americans is an important aspect of the museum's exhibits. The local Native American tribes played a vital role in the development of the Bartlesville area as many of the area's prominent citizens and business leaders came from Native American backgrounds. The Cherokee, Delaware, and Osage tribes are all represented in the collections of the Bartlesville Area History Museum.


Meet photographer Frank Griggs. Mr. Griggs moved to the Bartlesville area in 1908 and immediately began recording early day area life with his camera. He took over 200,000 photographs of Bartlesville throughout his lifetime. These photographs form the basis of a visual record of the growth and development of the Bartlesville area. The museum houses most of Mr. Griggs' photographs and equipment.

Hours: Tues-Sat: 10am - 4pm