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Tulsa: A New Home

an online exhibit highlighting early Jewish immigrants to Tulsa and their impact on the community

A New Home


In 2015, Tulsa City-County Library and the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art presented the exhibition Tulsa: A New Home at the Hardesty Regional Library in conjunction with the Library's Adult Summer Reading Program. The exhibition celebrated early Jewish immigrants to Tulsa and their impact on the broader community.

This online exhibit complemented and extended the physical exhibit and presented a more in-depth look at some of our collections.


We value participant contributions and invite you to share your Jewish Tulsa stories and photographs here.

Your contributions will be displayed on a separate page of this website. If you prefer that your contribution remain anonymous, we will accommodate your request. 

Please use the form below to submit your information. You will be contacted shortly regarding your contribution.

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Jacob Leon Yasha Rivkin


Jacob Leon "Yasha" Rivkin was born in Kiev and studied at the Chicago Art Institute. He opened his Tulsa photography studio in 1917. His son, David, became the official photographer for the annual International Oil Exposition at Tulsa's fairgrounds, and the family business operated in Tulsa for over 50 years. 

Read more about J. L. Rivkin


daniel boorstin

The son of Russian Jews, Dr. Daniel J. Boorstin was an honor graduate of Tulsa Central High School in 1930, went to Harvard University at the age of 15, attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, was director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History), won a Pulitzer in 1973 for The Americans, and was 12th Librarian of Congress.

Read the blog post

Read articles from the vertical files

Read articles in the Oklahoman Archives

Read articles in the New York Times Archives


alfred aaronson


Alfred Aaronson was 20 when he came to Tulsa in 1913. He became one of the founders of the Mid-Co Petroleum Corporation and founded Tuloma Oil Company. He built the (demolished) Court Arcade Building at 6th and Boulder, which housed the common pleas courts and other county-related offices until a new courthouse was built. Aaronson retired at 65 to focus on civic leadership. He was largely responsible for Tulsa's acquisition of Gilcrease Museum, spearheaded the drive for Tulsa's City-County Library system and downtown Central Library, and helped establish the Tulsa County Historical Society. He spoke out against housing discrimination and worked to develop a fully integrated community. Aaronson left "Tulsa A Better Place For His Efforts."

Find more online resources


Sadie Gelfand

Sadie worked as a court reporter at the Tulsa County Courthouse for almost fifty years. She narrates those experiences here. 

Herbert Gussman

Gussman discusses the early organization of the Tulsa Philharmonic, the location of the theater, and the artists that came to Tulsa.

Mrs. Herbert Gussman

Mrs. Gussman talks about her family experiences, focusing on lifestyles from 1919-1929. Some discussions include the Tulsa Race Riot, Arkansas flood, trolley cars, the Rexall Drug scandal, early oil people, the Jewish community, Edna Ferber, and the Philharmonic. 

Louis Kerbel

Louis Kerbel was a Russian Jew who came to Tulsa in 1915. He discusses early Tulsa professional wrestling, the Tulsa Race Riot, early sheriff elections, and the influenza epidemic in 1919. 


Please contact Sheri Perkins with any questions or comments.


From Shtetl To The Sooner State
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1904:  Simon Jankowsky Opens Palace Clothiers

Simon Jankowsky and his wife Hedwig moved to Tulsa in 1904 and established Palace Clothiers in the 100 block of Main Street. In 1914, Jankowsky erected a five-story building that still stands on the northwest corner of 4th and Main. 


palace clothiers sanborn map

 jankowsky family

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1913:  The Renberg Family Establishes Its First Tulsa Retail Store

Sam Renberg immigrated to the United Sates as a 14-year-old boy from Delmenhorst, Germany. He came to Indian Territory in 1900 from Chicago and opened stores in Ponca City and Enid before establishing the Tulsa store at 116 S Main
renberg's advertisement


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1918: The Sanditen Family Opens The First Oklahoma Tire and Supply Company

Maurice and Herman Sanditen came to the United States from Lithuania in 1906. The non-English speaking immigrants, ages 15 and 17 respectively, arrived in New York with $5 and a bread basket prepared by their mother. Maurice, Herman, and their brother Sam, who arrived later, invested $2,000 in the first Okmulgee store. A second store was opened in Henryetta in 1920, and the third store opened in 1923 in Tulsa, where OTASCO headquarters had been moved. 

"We had a gasoline pump on the curb and a few tires and
    accessories on the inside.The automobile was in its infancy
and we kind of grew with it."

maurice sanditen


"Tulsa has been good to me...There's not enough I can do for it." --Maurice Sanditen


'Family' History Gives Glimpse of Tulsa      Successful brothers                

Family History Gives Glimpse of Tulsa


Successful Brothers

OTASCO Chairman Dies at 79


1926:  Alfred and Sylvan Goldman Open Sun Grocery On Fifteenth Street

Their father, Michael Goldman, was born in the Baltic state of Latvia and moved the family to Tulsa in 1913. Sun Grocery soon grew to a chain of fifty-five stores and was purchased by Skaggs-Safeway Stores in 1929. The Goldmans went on to purchase Humpty Dumpty in 1934. Sylvan Goldman later invented the shopping cart and became widely known for his philanthropy.
sylvan nathan goldman

humpty dumpty


Read The Cart That Changed the World: The Career of Sylvan Nathan Goldman


1929:  M.E. Froug Opens The Froug Department Store

The Froug family came to the territories in 1898. Before coming to Tulsa, M.E.'s father, A. E. Froug, operated a chain of stores in Stroud, Sapulpa, Bristow, Prague, and Chandler. A. E. eventually took the family to Little Rock, but M.E. returned to Tulsa and opened the first Froug's store at 316 S. Main Street, just a few months before the stock market crash of 1929.
Froug's advertisement
froug's newspaper article

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