About the Center for Oral History
Through the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, The University of Southern Mississippi has been collecting and preserving the stories of Mississippians since 1971. This oral history collection now contains nearly four thousand interviews, by far the largest in the state and one of the largest in the South. The collection is available to researchers in the Mississippian Room of the McCain Library and Archives and in the Center’s offices at USM. The Center also provides access to an increasing number of its oral histories online.
The Center's collection has a recognized strength in the history of the civil rights movement and veterans' histories, yet the Center has collected broadly. The topics dealt with in the collection encompass the breadth of the state’s history.
Since 1999, the Center has joined with the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in the Mississippi Oral History Project (MOHP), funded annually by the Mississippi state legislature. This innovative project was a ground breaking initiative to document the collective memory of Mississippi’s culture, heritage, and institutions in the 20th and 21st centuries. The oral history projects within the MOHP are partnerships between the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Center for Oral History, and local communities and organizations to document their own past, capturing and preserving their local history and culture.
Community enthusiasm combined with the training, equipment, and expertise of the Center have contributed to the program’s great success. After the interview phase, the Center provides for the archiving, transcribing, and public programming of the interviews. The public programming helps fulfill the educational mission of the Center and the MHC and has included curriculum development, radio and film documentaries, theatrical productions, museum exhibits, publications, and community forums.