Bob Blackburn and Bob Burke
Bob Blackburn, a native Oklahoman, served as executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society from 1999 till 2021. He joined the OHS in 1980 as editor of The Chronicles of Oklahoma and became deputy director for agency operations in 1990.
Blackburn is a 1973 graduate of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He earned his M.A. & Ph.D. in history from Oklahoma State University. Blackburn grew up in Edmond and graduated from Putnam City High School in 1969.
Blackburn published several articles and his first book while still in graduate school and has since written or co-authored more than 20 books and numerous articles, journal entries, and screen plays. He is a steady source of historical information to the media and has appeared numerous times on The History Channel.
He was instrumental in planning and building the Oklahoma History Center, a 215,000-square-foot museum and research center. Blackburn has served on numerous national and regional boards and committees, including the Western History Association, the Oklahoma Association of Professional Historians, the AIA, and Leadership Oklahoma City.
Bob Burke, born in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, has written more historical non-fiction books than anyone else in history. He earned a law degree from Oklahoma City University and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from OCU and a BA in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Burke’s more than 130 books have won many awards, including three Pulitzer Prize nominations.
Burke is a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame. He is father to Robert, Amy, and Cody, stepfather to Natalie, Lauren, and Calli, and grandfather to Nathan, Jon, Ridge, Fallon, Greyson, Mia, Emerson, Sutton, Charlie, and Cameron. He and his wife, Chimene, live in Oklahoma City where he practices law and writes books.
Chair of the Day
Trait Thompson has been the executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society since 2021. Trait is focused on reaching a broader cross section of citizens with Oklahoma’s unique and fascinating history, modernizing the agency’s digital presence, and enhancing the visitor experience at all 25 museums and historic sites under the care of OHS. Along with his predecessor, Dr. Bob Blackburn, he is the co-host of A Very OK Podcast, OHS’s podcast on Oklahoma history. He was appointed by President Joe Biden to the U.S. Route 66 Centennial Committee in 2023.
Prior to his work at OHS, Trait spent almost 7 years managing the $280 million comprehensive restoration of the Oklahoma State Capitol for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. From 2010-2014, Trait served as legislative director and policy advisor to President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman in the Oklahoma Senate. Before that, he worked in the telecom and business consulting fields. Trait has also served as an adjunct professor in political science at Rogers State University, OSU-OKC, and the University of Oklahoma.
In 2022, Arcadia Publishing released Trait’s first book entitled The Oklahoma State Capitol.
Trait has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Oral Roberts University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Texas A&M University. He lives in Edmond with his wife, Sara, and their two children, Cale and Lilah. He enjoys kayaking, hiking, and reading in his spare time.