Angie Debo was born on January 30th, 1890 in Beattie Kansas. When she was nine years old, her family moved to Marshall in the recently opened Oklahoma Territory. There was no high school in Marshall so she received her teaching certificate at 16 and taught in local rural schools. In 1913 at the age of 23 she was one of the nine members of the first graduating class of Marshall High School.
She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1918 with a Bachelor’s in history. Because women were not allowed to enter the history field, Debo enrolled for a Master’s degree in International Relations and received the degree in 1924. From this time until 1933, Debo worked on the history faculty as West Texas State Teacher’s College while at the same time working on her dissertation. She received her PhD in 1933 from the University of Oklahoma while at the same time her dissertation was published as The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic (1934).
Although she signed a publishing deal with the University of Oklahoma Press, when she finished her first book, And Still the Waters Run, they refused to print it because it painted Oklahoma in an unfavorable light. Eventually it was published by the Princeton University Press in 1940 when she was fifty years old.
No universities would permanently hire her so she taught in rural schools until she was hired as a Maps Librarian at Oklahoma State University.
Debo is known as “the first lady of Oklahoma” and her career was largely focused around Native Americans and Oklahoma. She had a strong dedication to being factual and was known to take extensive notes and incorporate corrections in her publications. She spent all her free time writing books, articles, and numerous publications. Also known as a lecturer, she was a supporter of civil liberties. Her portrait hangs in the state capital. She died February 21, 1988 in Enid. OK.
Marshall High School, 1913
University of Oklahoma, B.A. 1918
• John H. Dunning Prize, American Historical Association: The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic, 1935
• Inducted into Oklahoma Hall of Fame, 1950
• Extraordinary service award, Navajo Community College, 1972
• Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award, Oklahoma State University, 1976 Southwest Book Award, Border Regional Library Association: Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place 1977
• Western Heritage Wrangler Award for non-fiction, Western Heritage and Cowboy Hall of Fame: Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place, 1978
• Biennial Book Award, Southwestern Library Association: Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place, 1978
• Award of Merit, American Association for State and Local History, 1979
• Portrait added to Oklahoma State Capitol, 1985
• Governor's Award for Scholarly Distinction, American Historical Association, 1987.
Raised and lived in Oklahoma. Most written works were about Oklahoma. Called “the first lady of Oklahoma.”
(With Fred J. Rippy) The Historical Background of the American Policy of Isolation. Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1924.
The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1934. 2nd edition, 1984.
And Still the Waters Run: The Betrayal of the Five Civilized Tribes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1940.
The Road to Disappearance: A History of the Creek Indians. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1941.
(Editor with John M. Oskison) Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner State. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1941.
Tulsa: From Creek Town to Oil Capital. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943.
Prairie City: The Story of an American Community. New York: Knopf, 1944.
Oklahoma: Foot-Loose and Fancy-Free. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949. With a new addendum, 1987.
The Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma: A Report on Social and Economic Conditions. Indian Rights Association, 1951.
(Editor) The Cowman's Southwest: Being the Reminiscences of Oliver Nelson. Arthur Clark, 1953.
(Editor) H. B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians. Redlands Press, 1962.
A History of the Indians of the United States. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.
Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976.
(Editor with Harold H. Leake) Dell O'Hara, With Five Reservations. Creekside Publications, 1986.
(Author of included essay) The WPA Guide to 1930s Oklahoma. Compiled by the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Oklahoma. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1986.
(With Edwin R. Sweeney) Great Apache Chiefs: Cochise and Geronimo. New York, NY: MJF Books, 1996.
“I have only one goal: to discover truth and publish it. My research is objective, but when I find all the truth on one side, as has sometimes happened in my study of Indian history, I have the same obligation to become involved as any other citizen.”