Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level





David Chappell

Committee Member

Elliott West

Second Committee Member

Patrick Williams


Social sciences, Capital punishment, Electric chair, Executions, Hanging, Oklahoma, Rich Owens, Isaac Parker


This doctoral dissertation explores the history of capital punishment in Oklahoma using a systematic case-by-case examination of the death penalty as it has been used in the Sooner state. The author hopes that better knowledge of the extensive history of that institution in Oklahoma's past will provide insight into the reasons why Oklahoma currently kills its residents at a higher rate than any other politically distinct area in the world for which accurate records are available. This study covers the time period from 1835 with the arrival of the Five Civilized Tribes until 1966 when the last execution by electrocution was performed. Although some secondary sources are used in the research, the preponderance of the evidence gathered came from primary sources, especially newspaper accounts and court records. The rarity of these resources for the earliest years limited the study somewhat, but the wealth of information available after the Civil War seemed to indicate that a number of factors combined to make Oklahoma residents especially accepting of an institution abandoned by the vast majority of the world's nations.