Local History

Archive Now Open!

Stop by on Fridays between 2:30pm-4:30pm for any research needs.

Open hours are dependent on staffing. Please call ahead, especially if you're traveling!

Have a Research Question?

We do not currently have volunteers or dedicated staff, but would love to help if we can! Call or email the library with your information request!


The Gateway is an online repository of Oklahoma history, brought to you by the Oklahoma Historical Society. Visitors can search and view historic thousands of newspapers, photographs, maps, and documents. Please check back often to see the newest additions.

In 2022, the library received funding from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Heritage Preservation Grant Program to create a partner page on the Gateway. Funding paid for digitization of manuscripts, photographs, and more.

Wondering What's in the Archive?

The archive has been collecting local history for a hundred years. Our largest collections are the City of El Reno collection, and a collection of small photographs. Past researchers have also contributed files and bound single-topic findings!

Our index will be available digitally soon, but until then, browsing must be done by hand.

Ancestry.com is available inside the library.

All donations are subject to review by the Library Director prior to acceptance to verify they fit the scope of our collection and the space restraints we have in the archive. Donors must fill out a Deed of Gift form once items have been evaluated. 

The library does not purchase collections, pay for the upkeep or digitization of documents that we do not own, temporarily house collections, or allow archive items to be checked out or viewed outside of the archive room. Thank you for understanding.

Other Local History Sites

Canadian County Historical Society Trolley
Canadian County Historical Society Trolley

Chartered in 1968, the Canadian County Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation and publicizing of Canadian County's historical heritage. The organization is housed in the original Rock Island Railroad Depot and the surrounding site houses the Possum Holler School, Mennoville Mennonite Church, Red Cross Canteen, El Reno Hotel, Darlington Jail and General Sheridan’s Headquarters.

The collections on display at the museum include railroad memorabilia, early pioneers and settlers, Fort Reno, Darlington, and Indian exhibits. Visit their website for more information!

Historic Fort Reno

Fort Reno, located on the west side of El Reno, began as a military camp in 1874. It is home to many historic buildings and areas of interest including a visitor center, chapel, cemetery, and the US Cavalry Association headquarters. Fort Reno is currently occupied by the USDA and is used as the Grazinglands Research Laboratory.

Visit their website to find information about upcoming events, group tours, volunteer opportunities, historical records, and more. Our Archive also features many records and images from the early days of Fort Reno.

Fort Reno Visitor Center
Fort Reno Visitor Center

Starting September 8, 2023 -

Fridays 2pm-4:30pm

The Archive will only be open when staffing allows for someone to be present in the room during open hours. Thus, hours are dependent upon staffing. Please call ahead to make sure the archive is open, especially if you are traveling!

The archive contains records, photographs, legal documents, and other items pertaining to local history, family history, and more.

These records are mostly individual print items, but some are divided into collections or compendiums. however, the majority of the records are not grouped by topic or content.

We are currently the only location for back issues of the El Reno Tribune and other local papers.

Our microfilm is down and will hopefully be replaced soon, but for now we are unable to access newspapers on microfilm.

We do have a small collection of paper newspapers available for browsing.

By hand! Our goal is to eventually have the items digitized and/or keyword searchable. But for now each document, photo, scrapbook,etc. must be gone over individually.

In short, no. Items in the archive are property of the Library. This includes family records, photographs, etc. To ensure their preservation, we do not allow records in our care to leave the archive room.

Copies can be made for private or individual use. If you would like to publish or distribute records from the archive, please discuss this with the Library Director prior to your visit or reproduction of the items.

If you feel an item in our care belongs with another entity, this will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Library Director.

More El Reno History on the Digital Prairie

Find these El Reno historical documents, school yearbooks, images and more on Digital Prairie.

El Reno early day businesses

History of the El Reno hamburger places

History of El Reno by Carolyn Barker (download PDF)