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Mississippi Oral History Project

The Mississippi Oral History Project is a statewide initiative to record Mississippians talking about their experiences, from daily life to extraordinary events, with family, work, politics, churches, community. Over the past ten years the Mississippi Humanities Council has awarded over half a million dollars in grants to collect over 3500 of these histories, from moonshiners to legislators to civil rights participants to blues singers.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage administers the project, with professional staff working with local groups to gather histories. After the interviews are collected, they are professionally transcribed. Copies of the tapes and printed interviews then go to each participant and to the local community archive. The master tapes remain at the USM Library, where they are permanently archived. The materials are readily available to scholars and researchers, teachers and students, as well as to the general public and on the internet at ww.usm.edu/msoralhistory.

And the histories are not just archived. Numerous public programs, including theatrical productions, radio and film documentaries, K-12 curriculums, museum exhibits and chautauquas, have made these Mississippi stories the heart and soul of their creations. Recently, under a special initiative funded by the Mississippi Legislature, a focused effort is underway to collect oral histories from Hurricane Katrina survivors, Civil Rights Movement participants, and World War II veterans.

Mississippians are famous for their stories. The Mississippi Oral History Program plays an invaluable role in contributing to the understanding of our state’s history from the
perspective of Mississippians themselves.

The Mississippi Oral History Project is a joint venture between the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History , and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage.