When it comes to academic study and attention, the Ozarks largely avoided scholarly study until the 1970s, with a few notable exceptions in fields such as geography and rural sociology. But in the 1970s Missouri State University emerged as a pioneer in the academic study of the Ozarks. Several faculty members published important books and articles and developed courses of study on the region. Included in this group were Robert Flanders (History), Robert Gilmore (Theater), Milton Rafferty, (Geography), Russel Gerlach (Geography), and Donald Holliday (English).
Flanders spearheaded the founding of the Center for Ozarks Studies in 1979, the first such Ozarks-focused regional studies center at any institution of higher learning. The Center for Ozarks Studies began publication of Ozarks Watch scholarly magazine eight years later. In more recent years the university has begun sponsorship of an annual Ozarks Celebration Festival and Ozarks Watch Video Magazine, a series of locally produced programs for Ozarks Public Television. In addition the Special Collections and Archives Department of Meyer Library has significantly expanded its holdings of records, manuscripts, and collections devoted to Ozarks history and culture, including the Ozarkiana Collection, the Ozarks Labor Union Archives, and the Gordon McCann Folk Music Collection.