New directors named for Southern Miss Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage

New directors named for Southern Miss Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi.

The Department of History at The University of Southern Mississippi has named Dr. Heather Stur and Dr. Kevin Greene the new co-directors of the University's Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage (COHCH) effective July 1.

Stur, an associate professor of history and fellow of the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society, and Greene, an assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies and history, both have wide-ranging experience in the field and have used oral history techniques extensively in their own scholarship. As co-directors, Stur and Greene will oversee the day-to-day operations of the COHCH, manage the large number of oral history projects the Center already has underway, and seek out and apply for new grant funding for Center projects old and new.

Stur and Greene will also work to highlight the amazing collection of oral histories the Center already possesses, while undertaking several new projects that will document the history of the state, region and nation with the voices of those who lived through it.

The COHCH's collection now contains nearly four thousand oral history interviews, the largest in the state and one of the largest in the South. The collection is available to researchers at the McCain Library and Archives and in the Center's offices at Southern Miss's Hattiesburg campus; an increasing number of the oral histories are online at

Dr. Kyle Zelner, chairman of the Department of History at Southern Miss, talked about his confidence in the new leadership team.

"Drs. Stur and Greene each bring a different, but complementary expertise to the Center for Oral History that will allow it to both continue the great work it has already done and grow in new and exciting directions. I have great hopes for the future of the Center under their direction," Zelner said.

"I'm honored to have the opportunity to help lead this nationally recognized Center," Stur said. "I look forward to taking on the challenge of continuing to build the Center's profile."

Dr. Greene expressed similar sentiments, saying, "It is an enormous privilege to co-manage and steer the Center's wonderful collections and future direction."

Stur spoke about the importance of oral history in the field of historical research. "Oral history is living history -- we are collecting the stories of those who experienced some of the most important events in U.S. history, from the Civil Rights Movement to the Global War on Terror," she said.

"But our collection doesn't just focus on major players in significant events. Through oral histories, we can preserve the stories and experiences of ordinary Americans, and those stories often tell us more about the impact of major events in U.S. and world history than the stories of the "big names" who have been made into myth."

Greene agreed, and added that one of his main goals was to make that more available by helping "the Center increase its visibility to anyone—both academics and non-academics—interested in studying and documenting this region."

"The College of Arts and Letters is especially pleased that Dr. Stur and Dr. Greene will be heading the Center, which houses a priceless collection of voices from the past and the present," said Jeanne Gillespie, Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Institute for Collaborative Research and Engagement.

Gillespie also explained that the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage has established partnerships with the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Oral History Project as well as NOAA and the National Parks Service.

"Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Mississippi artists and filmmakers like Wilma Mosely Clopton and the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center regularly use the collection to develop documentary and artistic works based upon Mississippians and visitors to our region," Gillespie said.

For more information on the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at The University of Southern Mississippi, visit