American History and Cultures


Americans share a history but participate in many cultures. This area encompasses the study, preservation, and dissemination of scholarship relating to American history, societies, and cultures from the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences. While this emphasis area encompasses the span of American history and the breadth of its cultures, including its literature, art, and popular culture, it focuses on those aspects of culture and history unique to Missouri and the Ozarks.


Examples of major trends and opportunities in extramural funding

  • Current major funded projects: Missouri State University faculty members currently receive external funding through sponsored research in the following areas: Archaeology [Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) about $500,000 per year] American Religion (Lilly Endowment $116,000 part of a $$700,000 project), American History education ($1.8 million 2001-2007 Dept. of Education of which $1.4 million is administered through Missouri State).
  • The bulk of CAR funds derive from Cultural Resource Management (CRM) contracts. CRM through federal mandates is now a billion dollar a year business. Though CRM funding has been flat since 2001, it is likely to increase in the future along with land development.
  • Funding for American History programs aimed at improving student performance directly or through teacher development programs did not exist in 2000. In 2001 Congress authorized $60 million. By 2005 this had increased to about $150 million per year through the Department of Education and NEH. Missouri State History faculty are heavily involved in many aspects of these programs. Congressional resolutions of September 2005 indicate that the Congress will add American History requirements to NCLB with additional financial support. This appears to a major growth area.
  • The Lilly, Templeton, Pew, Kellogg, and Ford foundations, fund research on American religion with several million dollars a year in grants. They have also made large investments in individual university programs totaling $23 million in recent years. This appears to be a major growth area.


Examples of areas of knowledge you anticipate will experience the most dramatic growth

  • Local and public history programs.
  • American History Education
  • American Religion
  • Racial and Ethnic Studies
    • Diaspora studies (i.e., Hispanic, Caribbean, African diasporas in the U.S. as part of larger movements)
    • African American Studies
    • American Indian Studies
    • Hispanic American Studies
    • Jewish Studies
    • Creole Studies (post Katrina)

Unique Resources:

Examples of unique existing resources as well as current needs in Missouri, the Ozarks, and/or Springfield regarding economic development, technological advances, cultural enrichment, physical well-being, and/or social prosperity

Existing Resources:

  • Center for Archaeological Studies
  • Ozark Studies Institute
  • Wilson Creek National Battlefield / General Sweeney Museum
  • History Museum
  • Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum
  • Ralph Foster Museum
  • The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection
  • Shannon County: Home and Shannon County: The Hearts of the Children
  • Greene County Archives
  • Meyer Library Special Collections (Missouri State, Labor, Judaism, Gay/Lesbian archives)

Needed Resources:

  • Missouri State Museum (housing CAR, and its archaeological collections, local history and cultural collections, and fine arts collections)
  • Archaeological equipment (Remote sensing, global positioning devices)
  • Reformulation of Center for Ozarks Studies
  • Library electronic media resources
  • Coordination of local cultural resource programs
  • Improved coordination of faculty research in area


Examples of new collaborations in research and/or learning as well as linkages to the University's existing and emerging research strengths

Existing Collaborations:

  • Internal Collaborations
    • CAR collaborates with Anthropology, Geography, Geology, and Planning, Biology, Art and Design
    • Teaching American History includes collaborations among Economics, History, and the Center for Social Science Research
    • Latin American and Caribbean Studies includes collaboration among History, Anthropology, Political Science, and Art and Design
    • Ozarks Studies Institute has promoted collaborations among several departments
    • Religion and English professors collaborated on a book (faculty unaware of each others work until recently)
  • External Collaborations
    • CAR collaborates with KU faculty to do research on Big Eddy site materials
    • History department collaborates through the TAH grant with the following school districts: Springfield, Republic, Ozark, Nixa, Marshfield as well as the Greene County Archives and History Museum. Members of the History department regularly collaborate with Wilson Creek National Battlefield on various projects and played a significant role in helping the Battlefield obtain Congressional funding to purchase of the General Sweeney collection.
    • Anthropology faculty are engaged in several projects including a language retention project with the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma, preservation of tribal culture with the Kiowa of Oklahoma, heritage tourism in Jamaica.
    • MCL faculty have been working on outreach projects with local Hispanic organizations.

New Collaborations:

  • Missouri State faculty are often unaware of the work of others in their fields because of departmental and college boundaries. Development of an emphasis area could bring together faculty members from many departments for the development of large scale projects.
  • There is a great need in southwest Missouri for a museum housing local history and culture collections. This facility could also serve as a clearinghouse for faculty members wishing to collaborate and link up with external cultural facilities.
  • Cultural resource development could be linked to private companies with an interest in heritage tourism (Silver Dollar City, Bass Pro, etc.)


Examples of building on existing strengths

  • Missouri State faculty members have been enormously productive in this area over the years. Two of our Distinguished Professors are American historians. Scholars in History, English, Sociology and Anthropology, Geography, Theatre, and Religious Studies to name a few areas have produced a library of books and articles.
  • External funding in CAR and Teaching American History is nearing a million dollars a year.
  • The Institute for Ozark Studies has played an important role on campus in the past and could be again important in the future with proper funding.
  • Strong collaborations with local school districts
  • Strong library holdings

Mission Fit:

Examples of compatibility with the University's statewide mission in public affairs

The study, preservation, and dissemination of scholarship related to the Americas is central to the public affairs mission.

Education Fit:

Examples of contributions to superior undergraduate, graduate, and professional education

  • A Missouri State University Museum would greatly enhance undergraduate programs in archaeology, history, anthropology, area studies, geography, geology, religious studies, and many others.
  • A museum would create possibilities for graduate programs in cultural resource management, public history, and anthropology which do not now exist.
  • New investment in remote sensing and positioning equipment would create new opportunities for students
  • An emphasis in this area would enhance professional development opportunities for public school teachers, community college teachers, NGO administrators, and local business executives interested in learning something about the area.


To sustain development after an initial investment, faculty members would:
  • Develop new undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Collaborate with Community and Social Issues Institute to resolve local and regional problems
  • Develop collegial organizations designed to overcome departmental isolation

New archaeological equipment would allow CAR:

  • to compete for a greater variety of contracts
  • to more efficiently complete work
  • to train students on latest equipment

A museum would allow faculty:

  • to seek external funding in areas supported by existing collections
  • to seek external support for museum development
  • to display research to the wider public