Beginning when she was eight years old, Dr. Debo recorded her thoughts, the weather, and the events of her day in a series of diaries (1898-1899, 1901, 1940-1942, and 1948-1987). While the early entries are discontinuous and reflect a child's preoccupations and interests (as well as grammar, punctuation, and spelling), her daily writings in her adult years provide insight into how she spent her days, how she collaborated with colleagues, and how she turned her efforts to activism, both local and national.

Like most documents of their kind, Dr. Debo's diaries are handwritten, meaning that they are not word-searchable in their original form. While working with Dr. Debo's collection, Dr. Kurt Anderson had begun to transcribe selected portions of her diaries, but he did not have the time to do that for the entire set of volumes. The number of staff hours needed to complete such a task was monumental, so it seemed unlikely that the work would get undertaken in the near future... until the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Oklahoma. When the university closed its buildings in March 2020, dozens of staff and students employed at the Oklahoma State University Library suddenly needed projects that could be done remotely, and through good fortune and some quick planning, they were able to take on the task of transcribing the remaining diaries. Through the leadership of the head of Archives, David Peters, digitized sections of the diaries were assigned to Library employees who then proceeded to transcribe the entirety of the volumes over the course of the pandemic. After transcription, the entries were edited by Dr. Anderson, and the complete run of Dr. Debo's diaries is now available online.


Editor’s note: Dr. Angie Debo’s diary entries and research notes may on rare occasions contain words and phrases that are racially offensive or ethnically insensitive but that were commonplace in the historic context of the time. These expressions often reflect words utilized in her original sources or found in colloquial expressions common to the era in which she was conducting her research and writing. While we recognize that these words or phrases would be inappropriate in current contexts, we have retained the original language in the interest of historical integrity, but we have attempted to flag sections in which this might be an issue so that viewers can be alerted in advance.