Ozarks Studies Institute

The Ozarks Studies Institute, an initiative of the Missouri State University Libraries, seeks to preserve the heritage of the Ozarks, its culture, environment and history by fostering a comprehensive knowledge of Ozarks' peoples, places, characteristics and dynamics. The Institute promotes a sense of place for residents and visitors alike and serves as an educational resource by collecting existing and discovering new knowledge about the Ozarks and by providing access to that knowledge.

Our activities

  • Using traditional, innovative and emerging technologies to preserve and present the Ozarks' heritage. 
  • Sponsoring speakers, professional conferences and workshops.
  • Developing multi-disciplinary programs with the purpose of fostering an appreciation of the beauty and complexity of the Ozarks.
  • Encouraging scholarly research focusing on the Ozarks.
  • Being an educational resource, particularly for the region's elementary and secondary schools.
  • Collaborating with partners from outside the university including other institutions focusing on the Ozarks such as folk-life centers, museums, historical and cultural societies and other universities and colleges.
  • Making related collections at the university (i.e., Lederer Collection of African-American Heritage in the Ozarks, Ozarks Labor Union Archives, Max Hunter Folk Song collection, McCann Ozarks Folk Music collection) more visible and accessible.

Our role

A comprehensive view of the Ozarks is enhanced through a multi-disciplinary, university-wide effort. Nearly all academic departments and colleges have some role to play in improving our understanding of the Ozarks, ranging from the natural and built environments, to performance and visual arts, to history, folklore, economics, politics, and religion. The Institute enables the university to focus its programs relating to the Ozarks, serve as a clearinghouse for knowledge of and about the Ozarks, and promote scholarly activities that increase our understanding of the Ozarks.

Our advisory board

Rachel Besara
Director of the Ozarks Studies Institute, and editor of OzarksWatch Magazine

Dr. Brooks Blevins
Professor, Department of History, Missouri State University

Susan Croce Kelly
Managing Editor of OzarksWatch Magazine

Kaitlyn McConnell
Founder and Producer of OzarksAlive.com

Mike O'Brien
Retired columnist for the Springfield News-Leader

Todd Parnell
Retired banker and former President of Drury University

Tom Peters
Dean of Library Services, Missouri State University

The outline of the Ozarks region from the Missouri River to the north, Mississippi to the east, Fort Smith to the south, and to the west; a little bit of northeast Oklahoma, tiny bit of southeast Kansas then angling towards Stockton Lake in Missouri