SHIRK, GEORGE HENRY (1913-1977)
Oklahoma historian George Henry Shirk followed in his father's
footsteps and became an attorney in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
However, this profession did not bring Shirk his greatest
pleasure. Shirk enjoyed discovering Oklahoma history, thus
earning him the nickname, "Mr. Oklahoma History."
photo credit Mr. Oklahoma by Howard & Mary Ellen
Shirk was born to John Henry and Carrie Hinderer Shirk on May 1,
1913, in Oklahoma City. His family had moved from Goshen,
Indiana, to Oklahoma City in 1903 to become part of a growing
frontier city. Having earned an LL.B. degree from the University
of Oklahoma (OU) Law School, George Shirk passed the Oklahoma
bar exam in 1936 and entered practice at his father's Oklahoma
City law firm of Shirk and Danner. While attending OU he
enrolled in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and
eventually saw active duty in Europe during World War II. He
attained the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army in 1945. Sister
Shirk, Lucyl A.; brothers:
Shirk, Paul R; Shirk,
During his lifetime, Shirk devoted most of his time to
historical pursuits. In 1949 he worked on the committee that
selected sites to be designated with historical markers and
wrote the text for many of the markers. He served on the board
of directors of the Oklahoma Historical Society and as its
president (1958-75), as trustee of the National Trust for
Historic Preservation, and as state historic preservation
officer under governors Dewey Bartlett, David Hall, and David
In addition to his love of Oklahoma history, Shirk wanted to
serve his city and help with its advancement. He was
instrumental in the adoption of the Lake Atoka water project
that eased Oklahoma City water consumption problems, the
adoption of a city seal, and the organization of the Oklahoma
Industrial Authority, without which businesses such as Hertz
Corporation Data Center, General Motors, Oklahoma University
Health Sciences Center, and the Metro Concourse would not have
become a reality.
While continuing to practice law during the 1960s, Shirk was
mayor of Oklahoma City (1964-67), Oklahoma Historical Society
president, vice chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Centennial
Commission, and sheriff of the Indian Territory Posse of
Oklahoma Westerners, and he served on numerous boards.
Photo Carrie & John Shirk at St. Joseph, Michigan, on their
first vacation after marriage. Credit Mr. Oklahoma by Howard & Mary Ellen
In addition to his civic positions, Shirk wrote and co-wrote
several books and numerous articles for The Chronicles of
Oklahoma and The American Philatelist. The University of
Oklahoma Press printed his book Oklahoma Place Names in 1965. He
was an avid antique collector, collecting classic cars and
On November 14, 1976, the George H. Shirk Oklahoma History
Center at Oklahoma City University was dedicated. The center
houses his collection of rare books, stamps, and maps. Before
his death on March 23, 1977, Shirk was inducted into the
Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1969. He died of cancer in his Oklahoma
City home and was buried in
Rose Hill Cemetery.
Source: Chronicles of Oklahoma,
OKLAHOMA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City),
24 March 1977. Howard L. Meredith and Mary Ellen Meredith,
Mr. Oklahoma History: The Life of George H. Shirk (Oklahoma
City, Okla.: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1982). "George H.
Shirk," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical
Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "George Henry Shirk,"
Contemporary Authors, First Revision, Vols. 17-20 (Detroit,
Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1965).
Sources: good faith fair use of sources stated above
Compiled, transcribed and submitted by Marti Graham, Oklahoma County, OKGenWeb Coordinator,
January 2009. Information
posted for educational purposes for viewers and researchers. The contributor is not
related to nor researching any of the above.
I believe in random acts of kindness and I believe in sharing genealogy. If you have copies of
photos, obituaries, wills, biographies, or stories relating to any of these families or other Oklahoma County families, would you consider sending them my way for publication at this site?
I always welcome comments and corrections.