About the Historical Society & Membership

Your source for petroleum history articles, research and education resources, oil museum news, exhibits and events.

 

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS) is dedicated to preserving U.S. petroleum history, which provides a context for understanding the modern energy industry. This history began with an 1859 oil well in Pennsylvania and represents a key aspect of modern energy education. Basic membership in the historical society is free, although joining as a supporting member is greatly appreciated. All members can sign up for AOGHS petroleum history emails.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is American Oil & Gas Historical Society?

The historical society provides historical content about the U.S. petroleum industry to educate the public about modern energy challenges. Our website includes articles that examine social, economic, environmental, and technological milestones (good and bad). AOGHS is dedicated to providing unbiased, updated research and educational links for students, teachers, researchers, journalists, and others interested the history of fossil fuels.

Circa 1919 view of Burkburnett oilfield, near Wichita Falls, Texas, a panoramic gelatin silver print courtesy Library of Congress.

Bruce Wells founded AOGHS in 2003. He is a former energy reporter and editor who lives in Washington, D.C. The historical society today is an unincorporated sole proprietorship business. Wells is assisted by his brother Col. (retired, USAF) Kristin L. Wells, volunteer senior contributing editor and researcher. 

What is the historical society’s mission?

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society provides advocacy and service to community oil and natural gas museums and other organizations committed to energy education, exhibition, and material preservation. Community museum staff and volunteers offer a credible and often positive energy education resource. AOGHS builds partnerships among these museums and their volunteer docents. The historical society encourages museum directors and energy education workshop practitioners to share experiences and teaching resources.

There are many individuals, including volunteers at community museums, historical societies, and professionals from the industry who not only help preserve a remarkable history, but also serve as ambassadors to the public. The industry’s often neglected history of social, economic, and technological advances provides an important context for teaching the modern energy business, especially to young people.

How much does it cost to join the historical society?

Membership is free, but annual financial contributions of any amount are encouraged to help maintain the AOGHS website, emailed newsletters, and public outreach efforts. Energy education is important; comments and  suggestions are welcomed. Please support this energy education effort.

Petroleum history, energy education, and public outreach

Executive Director Wells has spoken at many professional association meetings and expos; he has organized energy education conferences that have included field trips to oil museums in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. 

energy education

Bruce Wells speaks at industry conferences.

Bruce Wells received the “Keeper of the Flame Award” from the Petroleum History Institute, Titusville, Pennsylvania, in August 2009. He was co-chairman of the Oil 150 Committee for the Sesquicentennial of America’s First Oil Discovery, Oil City, Pennsylvania, 2008-2009, and in the Titusville Oil Sesquicentennial Parade as a Drake Well Museum “Drake Day” VIP in 2009. Wells also was an honorary co-chairman of the 75th Anniversary of East Texas Oil Field Discovery Committee, Kilgore, Texas, in 2005, and an honored guest, at the 35th Annual Sistersville Oil and Gas Festival in West Virginia in 2003.

Read More about AOGHS.

Explore these popular AOGHS articles

John Wilkes Booth and Dr. Seuss were once in the oil business; Maybelline cosmetics, Hula-Hoops, nylons, and Wax Lips were all petroleum product offspring; Harry Houdini patented a deep sea diving suit adopted by offshore drillers; “fracking” was the profitable brainstorm of a cashiered Union veteran; Florida’s first oil well was drilled after the state offered a reward; and countless thousands of obsolete stock certificates fascinate collectors – each has a tale of its own. 

2006 Oil History Journalism Award

Among those who have served on the editorial staff at The American Oil & Gas Reporter with founder Charles W. “Cookie” Cookson (center) are, from left, Bruce Wells, Alex Mills, Bill Campbell and A.D. Koen. Cookson is holding the artist’s proof of a limited edition print, “Donkey in a Kansas Field,” by California artist JoAnn Cowans, which was presented to Cookson by the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, which honored Cookson with its first AOGHS-Petroleum History Institute Oil History Journalism Award in April 2006. Wells founded AOGHS in 2003 and continues to serve as its executive director. Mills is president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers; Campbell remains with The American Oil & Gas Reporter as managing editor; and Koen is an independent energy writer and communications consultant in Houston.

Among those who served on the editorial staff at The American Oil & Gas Reporter magazine with founder Charles W. “Cookie” Cookson (1922-2015) from left to right, Bruce Wells, Alex Mills, Bill Campbell and A.D. Koen. Cookson is holding the artist’s proof of a limited edition print, “Donkey in a Kansas Field,” by California artist JoAnn Cowans, which was presented to Cookson by the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, which honored Cookson with an AOGHS-Petroleum History Institute Oil History Journalism Award in April 2006. Wells founded AOGHS in 2003 and continues to serve as its executive director. Mills is a past president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers; Campbell remains with The American Oil & Gas Reporter as managing editor; and Koen is a retired energy writer and communications consultant in Houston. Photo and text courtesy The American Oil & Gas Reporter.

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The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

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