The University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage was honored March 8 by the Mississippi Historical Society with its prestigious Award of Merit for contributions to museums in Mississippi and the region.
Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes, professor of history and director of the Center, attended the awards ceremony to accept the honor during the MHS’s annual meeting in Jackson.
Kyriakoudes praised the work of the Center’s staff for making the award possible, including sound engineer and researcher Ross Walton, editor and transcriptionist Stephanie Millet-DeArmey and former managing editor Linda Van Zandt.
“The Center has long supported museums across Mississippi and the nation by providing them with audio and transcripts that document the history of our state and the South,” Kyriakoudes said. ‘We’re grateful for this recognition.”
Peggy Jeans, chairwoman of the Mississippi Historical Society's 2014 Awards Committee, praised the Center for its work to promote partnerships with museum professionals in an effort to continue “the increasing popularity of integrating oral history into museum’s multi-media exhibits.”
“Such partnerships not only increase public access to the Center’s vast oral history audio, video and manuscript collections but also lead to more active engagement with museum visitors through interactive exhibits featuring the power of the voice and video,” Jeans said.
The Center has more than 4,000 interviews in its collection, one of the largest in the South, covering a wide array of topics that include the impact of Hurricanes Camille and Katrina, the civil rights movement in Mississippi and the stories of military veterans from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year, the Center secured National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funding to interview Gulf Coast marine harvesters affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil (DWH) Spill.
“The Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage is a rare gem at the University and in the field, best known for collecting and making available historical sources that offer essential glimpses into the past for researchers and historians across the globe,” said Dr. Kyle Zelner, chairman of the Southern Miss Department of History. “It’s fitting that the MHS has recognized the faculty and staff of the COHCH for the fine work they do to keep history alive.”
The Center’s collection is available to researchers in the Mississippian Room of the McCain Library and Archives and in the Center’s offices at USM. It also provides access to an increasing number of its oral histories online. For information about the Southern Miss Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, visit www.usm.edu/oral-history.