This addition to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society’s energy education mission offers links to books and periodicals relating to petroleum history. More nonfiction book suggestions can be found at, which includes a list of popular “Best Books About Oil & Gas.”

For additional oil history reading suggestions, adapted from the article summaries appear every Monday in “This Week in Petroleum History,” take time to review AOGHS’ Recommended Reading.

The historical society welcomes book suggestions, especially for nonfiction. Use the society’s contact page. A web page for fiction, which also will be expanding, begins with a novel from one of the first AOGHS supporters, Gene Ames Jr. of San Antonio. Ames, an independent oil and natural gas producer, served as president of state and national industry associations (receiving the industry’s Chief Roughneck Award in 1995). His novel,  A Wildcatter’s Trek: Love, Money and Oil, was published in 2016.

Anomalies – Pioneering Women in Petroleum Geology: 1917 to 2017

oil history booksRobbie Rice Gries – with help from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and many volunteers – has written a fascinating and educational history of pioneering women in petroleum geology.

The 405-page Anomalies includes personal stories, written correspondence, and photographs dating to the first decade of the 20th century. Grandchildren, children, nieces, nephews, and friends share their memories of these pioneering women.

The stories begin with WW I and conclude with hiring through Affirmative Action in the 1970s and the successes of many of today’s women in petroleum geology. Anomalies was released March 1, 2017, as part of the AAPG 100th anniversary.

“Robbie Gries and her contributors have created a remarkable account of early women in petroleum geology,” declared the late Marlan W. Downey, founder and chairman of Roxanna Oil Company. “The book represents a ‘deep dive’ into the lives, accomplishments, triumphs, and, even, terrors, of early women professionals.”

Downey, a past AAPG president who passed away in late May 2017, praised Gries’ book for its impressive scholarship, reflecting four years of researching histories of largely forgotten women professionals. “The book should be read by every petroleum geologist, geophysicist, and petroleum engineer; partly for the pleasure of the sprightly told adventures, partly for a sense of history, and, significantly, because it engenders a proper respect towards all women professionals, forging their unique way in a “man’s world.”

oil bookRobbie Gries is founder and president of Priority Oil & Gas LLC, a Denver-based natural gas production, petroleum exploration, and development company with producing properties in Kansas and Wyoming. She has been in the petroleum industry for more than 40 years. Anomalies can be ordered online for $50 from AAPG.

Another AAPG member, Thomas E. Cochrane of California, in August 2018 published “a fast-paced and lyrical stroll through several decades of searching for oil and gas, punctuated with stories about the greatest gamblers, and insights into petroleum geology,” noted Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society about Tornados, Rattlesnakes & Oil: A Wildcatter’s Memories of Hunting for Black Gold.

Myth, Legend, Reality – Edwin Laurentine Drake and the Early Oil Industry

William Brice, an award-winning Pennsylvania oil historian in 2009 published a comprehensive biography of Edwin Drake, the man who launched the U.S. petroleum industry in 1859. Brice, professor emeritus in geology and planetary science at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, published his 661-page epic as part of the U.S. petroleum industry’s 150th anniversary in 2009. Read more in Edwin Drake and his Oil Well.

Trek of the Oil Finders: A History of Exploration for Petroleum (1975) by Edgar Wesley Owen (American Association of Petroleum Geologists).

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (1991)

“Deemed ‘the best history of oil ever written’ by Business Week and with more than 300,000 copies in print, Daniel Yergin’s Pulitzer Prize–winning account of the global pursuit of oil, money, and power has been extensively updated to address the current energy crisis.” – Amazon Books.

The Secret of Sherwood Forest – Oil production in England during World War II (1973) by Guy and Grace Woodward (University of Oklahoma Press). See Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest.

Texas Oil and Gas – Postcards of Texas Petroleum History

The history of America’s oil and natural gas industry provides an important context for teaching young people the modern energy business. Texas Oil and Gas by geologist and historian Jeff Spencer documents in vintage postcards the rapid growth of the Texas petroleum industry from its beginnings near Corsicana in the 1890s through the next several decades of oil booms throughout the state. Read more in Vintage Oil Postcards from Texas.

Oil and Natural Gas

Published as part of an energy education program of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Oil and Natural Gas offers young people a surprisingly comprehensive introduction to the history and uses of oil. It is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Read more in the Story of Petroleum.

More authors are featured in Oilfield Artists.



The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Support this energy education website with a donation today. For membership information, contact © 2018 Bruce A. Wells.