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Missouri State University Libraries

Center for Ozarks Studies

Collection Number: RG8.11
Volume: 50 cubic feet
Dates: Mid-1800s - 1990s


The Special Collections and Archives Department acquired the Center for Ozarks Studies material from the College of Humanities and Public Affairs in 1999. Leslie James began processing the collection in 2002, with support from student assistants Carolyn Schweighauser, Todd Hubbs, Jennifer Hazen, Shannon Western, Stephanie Hagenhoff, and Erin Williams.


This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).


The collection is unrestricted with the exception of certain archaeology reports. Single photocopies of unrestricted materials may be made for research purposes. Citations should be as follows: Identification of the item, box and folder number, Center for Ozarks Studies (RG 8.11), Special Collections and Archives Department, Missouri State University.

Missouri State University and the Special Collections and Archives Department do not hold copyright for all items within the collection. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all necessary permissions to publish anything from the Center for Ozarks Studies materials.

Restricted items will require permission from the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) or the institution the document originated from. Most of CAR's Cultural Resource Management reports are restricted to federal, state, and local officials, planners, engineers, and professional archaeologists. As a result, CAR asks that requests for viewing be submitted to them in writing on agency or company letterhead.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Discussions began in 1975 at Missouri State University to establish a center focused on researching the Ozarks region, and in 1979, those ideas came to fruition when the university established the Center for Ozarks Studies. Robert Flanders, professor of history, served as director for the Center. The Center was originally located at 1030 Florence, a small house south of Craig Hall. Its purpose/mission was to promote pride in Ozarks heritage and to research and study the Ozarks region. COS provided a variety of services in the form of consultation, documentary information, public programs, and local history courses. The Center also conducted several grant-funded projects which included films related to Shannon County, Missouri, oral histories, and historical research on the Mark Twain National Forest.

The Center closed in [1995?]. In 1995, COS was scheduled to vacate its offices now located in the Professional Building. The moving date was moved up and COS was forced to vacate quickly and with little notice. Sara Whitaker, the secretary for COS, coordinated much of the move as Robert Flanders had broken his foot and was on crutches. Other staff working in the Professional Building told COS staff that they had found some of the COS records in the dumpsters, apparently put there by the movers. COS staff retrieved what was found in the dumpsters but it is unknown if other records were lost before COS staff were aware of the problem.

When asked, Robert Flanders felt that the most important thing the Center accomplished was to demythologize the Ozarks and to give the people of the Ozarks something substantial about their own people through efforts such as OzarksWatch magazine and the Sassafras presentation, which over 100,000 people viewed.

Scope and Content

The information within the Center for Ozarks Studies material encompasses a wide timeframe beginning as early as the mid 1800s and ending in the 1990s. The Ozarks region includes Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Most of the material relates to various grants and research projects conducted by the Center.

Series I: COS Office Files
These files pertain to the business of the Center for Ozarks Studies. Materials include bibliographies, correspondence, grants and contract information, and conference materials.

Series II: Courses
This series consists of materials used by Robert Flanders for courses he taught, including readings, syllabi, and tests.

Series III: Robert Flanders’ Personal Papers
This small series includes course papers written by Robert Flanders, research information for publications, and correspondence.

Series IV: Subject Files
Subject Files consist of copied articles and miscellaneous subject clipping files on various topics including archaeology, mills, and the Missouri census.

Series V: Forest/Fire-free Range
The Center assisted the Center for Archaeological Research in a fifteen-month historic and pre-historic cultural resource overview of and for the Mark Twain National Forest. The Center’s contribution to the final report was a two volume, partially annotated bibliography for sources of Ozarks history and culture, and an essay. The series consists of subject files relating to the National Forest system.

Series VI : Oral History Transcripts
Oral history transcripts of various COS projects are combined under this series. Audio cassettes of oral histories are located in Series XXII: Audio Cassettes.

Series VII: Buffalo River Oral History Project, Phase I and II
The National Park Service contracted the Center for Ozarks Studies to conduct two phases of oral history interviews with persons associated with the Boxley and Erbie Valleys of Buffalo National River, Arkansas. Audio cassettes of the oral histories are located in Series XXII: Audio Cassettes.

Series VIII: Shannon County Projects
The Center produced several media projects related to Shannon County. Shannon County: Of Home and the River (1977) was a 32-minute multi-image program using 3 screens and 6 projectors. Sassafras: An Ozarks Odyssey (1978-79) was a 52-minute multi-image program that included multiple projection surfaces and 12 projectors. A Taste of Sassafras (1980) was a 25-minute derivation of Sassafras: An Ozarks Odyssey.

From 1976 to 1981, the Center for Ozarks Studies produced two sixty-minute documentary films about the history and culture of Shannon County for national television broadcast. The result of the project was Shannon County: Home and Shannon County: The Hearts of the Children. These films were funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and produced in partnership with Veriation Films, an independent film company from Palo Alto, California. Home won the CINE Golden Eagle in 1982 and an American Film Festival Blue Ribbon in 1983.

The Center for Ozarks Studies also composed a history of the Alley Spring community of Shannon County as part of a grant-funded project for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, National Park Service in 1985. The report was entitled, "Alley, a Mill Hamlet: Society, Economy, Landscape".

The material within this series is the research accumulated for the film projects and the Alley Spring history. Information may also be found relating to counties bordering Shannon County.

Series IX: Shannon County Project Oral History Transcripts
These transcripts relate to the Shannon County Projects listed above. Many of the transcripts have corresponding audio cassettes within Series XXII: Audio Cassettes.

Series X: Shannon County Current Wave
This series consists of news clipping subject files related to the Shannon County Projects and Shannon County in general. The Shannon County Current Wave is printed in Eminence, Missouri.

Series XI: Haseltine Family History
These research materials relate to the Haseltine family of Greene County.

Series XII: Missouri Counties
These subject files for various countie s in the state include news clippings, journal articles, brochures, and family histories. The series is sorted by county.

Series XIII: National Register Nominations
Robert Flanders was a member of the Historic Preservation board responsible for evaluating submitted nominations for the state of Missouri in the 1970s. Nominations relating to the Ozarks region were kept for this series.

Series XIV: Historic Inventory Surveys
This series is predominantly inventories of Iron and Washington Counties completed in 1979-1980 as part of a grant-funded project. Ironton, Arcadia, and Pilot Knob were priority areas for the project. Other projects included surveys in Benton, Camden, Miller, Osage, McDonald, Barry, Stone, Taney, and Ozark Counties. The series also includes various county inventories conducted by students for what appears to be class assignments/projects.

Series XV: Arkansas
Subject files, brochures, and news clippings relating to northern Arkansas make up this series.

Series XVI: Tourism
This series contains brochures and maps primarily from Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

Series XVII: Sassafras
Under a grant from the Missouri Committee for the Humanities, the Center for Ozarks Studies collaborated with MSU’s Media Production Department in the conception and creation of Sassafras: An Ozarks Odyssey, an hour long multi-image program presenting the Ozarks region as a geographic and cultural entity. The series consists of various subject files.

Series XVIII: OzarksWatch
These materials relate to the making of OzarksWatch, a quarterly magazine published by the Center for Ozarks Studies since 1987. Materials from other series relate to article subjects in OzarksWatch.

Series XIX: MissouriFind
MissouriFind was a History-Heritage Curriculum Project developed by a consortium of Missouri State University and Ozarks Public Television with funding provided by a grant from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Robert Flanders served as Subject Matter Director of the project. The series consists of draft copies of MissouriFind publications and research materials.

Series XX: Publications
This series contains publications pulled from the collection. Most of the publications with the Center for Ozarks Studies materials were pulled for cataloging. A listing of those publications is located at the end of the finding aid .

Series XXI: Photographs
A large portion of the photographs relate to Shannon County. Some photographs were left with their original folders and are not in the Photograph Series.

Some of the photographs within the collection were taken by Charles Phelps Cushing. Cushing was a reporter/photographer with the Kansas City Journal Post in the early 1900s. In 1910, he took the spur line train from Mansfield to Ava and took photographs on this trip. He then took a mail hack from Ava to Gainesville and took more photographs. After Cushing’s death, Flanders obtained permission from the heir to use the photographs, but after he obtained permission, H. Armstrong Roberts, a firm from Kansas City, bought the pictures from the heir.

Several photographs are copies from other collections at other archival institutions and companies. Permissions to reproduce those photographs must be obtained from the institution or company housing the collection. Single photocopies can be made for research purposes only.

Missouri Land & Mining - Joint collection between University of Missouri, Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia and State Historical Society of Missouri Manuscripts.

Lloyd Matthews Collection -

Lon Hogan Collection -

National Park Service -

Information gathered from COS Office Files: Center for Ozarks Studies Activity Report, 1978 - 1979.

Series XXII: Audio Cassettes
This series includes general oral histories, student projects, audio cassettes relating to the Buffalo River Oral History Project, and course and conference lectures. Names have been inverted to make last name searches easier. The numbering system (COS #) for audio cassettes is continuous throughout the seven boxes.

Series XXIII: Reel to Reel Tapes
This series consists of five reel-to-reel tapes of oral histories, conference lectures, and Shannon County Projects narratives. One VHS cassette is included in the box.

Series XXIV: Postcards
Several postcards were found throughout the collection and compiled within this series.

Series XXV: Oversized Materials
Oversized Materials include maps, charts, and newspapers. Materials not fitting legal folders were removed from their original location and put into this series. Relocation sheets can be found in the original folder and will guide researchers to the new location of the material.

Series XXVI: Slides
The majority of the more than 12,000 slides consist of scenes from throughout the Ozarks region. Slides are individually labeled with an Ozarks Media Show number. (This list is available upon request.) Most of the slides are of photos taken by Robert Flanders or Lynn Morrow. Several are in association with the slide programs that Flanders created such as “Sassafras” and "Whatever Happened to St. Louis Street?"

Series XXVII: Maps
Soil maps, general highway maps, national forest maps, and miscellaneous other maps make up this series. Maps are stored in Map Case 2. Maps were accumulated by COS as needed for projects.

COS created two maps themselves. "Civil War in the Ozarks" displayed movements and battles in Missouri and was published and distributed in an issue of OzarksWatch which focused on the Civil War. The other map showed the relationship between land forms and settlements in the Ozarks.

Container List

The container list for this collection is available in PDF format. Adobe Reader is required to view the container list.

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