Since 1971 the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage has been collecting stories about Mississippi state history and recording the memories of Mississippians. In 1996 the Center's mission expanded to include documenting regional folk culture. The Oral History collection contains thousands of interviews, many of them available to the public in the Mississippiana Room of the McCain Library and Archives in the Center's offices.
From 1997 to 2001, the Center conducted a Civil Rights Documentation Project, in conjunction with the Tougaloo College archives. Since 1999, the Center has been working with the Mississippi Humanities Council on the legislative-funded Mississippi Oral History Project, a project to document the collective memory of Mississippi's culture, heritage, and institutions in the 20th Century.