4 Photographic Observations of Oklahoma's Deadliest Tornadoes

Monday, 23 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Ashley Allen, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

Photographs help researchers to delve into the past in a way that cannot be done through text.  In the case of extreme weather events such as tornadoes, photographs allow us to see the storm and its destruction while giving a unique look into the minds of the photographers. This poster will focus on photographs taken in the days following Oklahoma’s five deadliest tornadoes and how they can be seen as observations of culture.

Through content analysis of photos taken in the direct aftermath of the devastating tornadoes that hit Woodward (1947), Snyder (1905), Peggs (1920), Antlers (1945), and Pryor (1942), it quickly became apparent which types of scenes people felt it was important to remember. By recording damage done to places of societal value, such as homes, churches, and community landmarks, photographers were able to ensure that they would become a part of the community’s social memory. These memories continue in the present, and many of these photographs are still being exhibited in a way that promotes conversation and highlights stories that are often outside of living memory. This leads to further observations and understandings of the incredible role tornadoes play in Oklahoma’s culture as a whole.

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