Bob Blackburn is a 1969 graduate of Putnam City High School, where he credits his English and history teachers for inspiring him to become a historian and writer. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, where he met his future wife, Debbie, in a Civil War history class. From there he attended Oklahoma State University where he earned a master’s degree in history in 1976 and doctorate in 1979.
Since 1999 Blackburn has served as the executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. His work with the society extends back to 1980 when he started as editor of The Chronicles. He was instrumental in planning and building the Oklahoma History Center, a 215,000 square-foot museum and research center which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and National Archives.
Blackburn’s career as a published writer began before leaving graduate school where he wrote several articles and a book on the history of Oklahoma’s Department of Public Safety. Since that time, he has authored or co-authored 23 additional books, as well as articles, journal entries and even screenplays. He is a steady source of historical information to the media and has appeared numerous times on the History Channel.
Today, Blackburn serves several organizations, including the Oklahoma Association of Professional Historians, the American Institute of Architects, and Leadership OKC. He has been honored with membership in the Oklahoma State University Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame and the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, and he holds an honorary degree from Oklahoma City University.
He has been married for 40 years to community leader and former State Representative Debbie Blackburn. They have one son, Beau, a photographer in Denver, a daughter-in-law, Tori, a teacher in Denver, and one grandson, Bodhi. In his spare time Blackburn enjoys reading, carpentry, landscaping and golf.