The tradition-rich get tradition-richer. And all of us reap the benefits.

The East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore has been preserving city, local and regional history for more than 40 years. And now, the museum has announced a new, more modern step in their mission to collect and share items, photographs and more from the historic East Texas Oil Boom.

In addition to viewing historical photos inside the museum, curious visitors can now view digital copies, carefully cataloged and researched, online.

“More than 40 years ago, our community filled the museum with items that helped the museum achieve its mission of telling the story and preserving history,” said ETOM Manager Olivia Moore.

“This outpouring of items and support included photographs. Many have been enlarged and are included in our exhibits, but there are many more that we have not been able to share publicly until now.”

Moore said she and the ETOM team have already scanned more than 1,100 of the images, labeled and sorted for easy searching.

The job is not yet done: Moore said there are another 2,000 images to be sorted and scanned and the site is updated daily with new photos.

A Kilgore College student, Cedric Pete, pitched in a personal workload of more than 50 hours spent scanning the images.

The project began in July 2019, Moore said, and the team scanned the first photograph in July of 2020. Since then, it’s been a steady and concerted effort to prepare for the website’s launch.

Some of the photographs were donated as far back as 1978 and as recently as 2020.

“Each Friday became archives day, which included carefully viewing, verifying against the catalog and accession records and finally scanning the image before returning to the storage location.” Moore said. “Our docents have spent more than 100 hours working toward our goal with special thanks to Ms. Barb Ramsey, Ms. Dee Baker and Ms. Joy Jordon.”

Moore said she hopes longtime museum visitors and anyone with an interest in local history “will find treasures, East Texas Oilfield history and another side of the story the museum strives to tell each day.”

Moore’s tenure as ETOM manager began by hitting the ground running, as she oversaw the first-ever major facility-wide renovation in its four-decade history. The renovation included new paint, murals, refurbished exhibit items and a new digital sound system in the museum’s Boomtown Theater.

The digital photo archive program was made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas.

“Without their support, we would not be able to bring this to you today,” Moore said.

Visit the online catalog image archive at

Images uploaded so far include family photographs, pictures of downtown Kilgore, with its brand-new skyline of oil derricks and photos of Kilgore businesses and residents living and working in the city.

Images can be searched by specific keywords, general search terms or with a more-exact advanced search function. If users want to casually browse, there is also a “Random Images” search accessible from the homepage. Users who find an image which speaks to them can click the image and send in a request to ETOM for a digital copy of the image they want.

For more information, please contact Moore at (903) 983-8295 or The East Texas Oil Museum is located at 1300 S. Henderson Boulevard (Highway 259), as a part of the Kilgore College campus.

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