The Center for the Study of Southern Culture aims to investigate the rich history of the southern United Sates and educate future generations about its importance.The center is located within the Barnard Observatory, which is part of the campus of the University of Mississippi. The university's faculty began planning the center in 1975 in order to strengthen the humanities teaching available. After receiving a consultant grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the center was able to open in November 1977.


  • Center for the Study of Southern Culture
    Center for the Study of Southern Culture
  • A view of the Barnard Observatory
    A view of the Barnard Observatory

The Center for the Study of Southern Culture aims to research and document the diverse history of the southern United States, preserving the knowledge for future generations. The center encourages students to look at the history of the south through different disciplines, analyzing the complex cultures and demographics of the area. The center was the idea of a committee at the university composed of faculty and administrators. Plans began in 1975, and the center officially opened in 1977. 

The center is housed in the Barnard Observatory, one of the oldest buildings on the University of Mississippi campus. The observatory was named for Frederick A. Barnard, a professor and president at the University of Mississippi. Barnard was born in 1809 and graduated from Yale in 1828. He went on to become a professor and the chairman of the chemistry, mathematics, and astronomy departments at the University of Mississippi in 1854. In 1856, university president Longfellow resigned from his position, and Barnard was chosen as the new president. While continuing to teach in the classroom, Barnard worked tirelessly to improve the university. The state legislature allocated $100,000 to the University of Mississippi in 1856. Barnard utilized this money to acquire various scientific equipment and construct the observatory. The building was completed in 1859 and is known as one of Barnard's most famous contributions to the university.

Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the center attracts a wide variety of students with different backgrounds and career aspirations. With an emphasis on humanities teaching, the center has created both the Bachelor of Arts program in Southern Studies and the Master of Arts program in Southern Studies. The University of Mississippi is the only institution with a Master of Arts program in Southern Studies, making it a unique and competitive program. The program aims to include arts, humanities, and social sciences in order to help students view southern history in a unique, well-rounded way.

Alongside its academic purposes, the center also has several publications, exhibits, and outreach programs that involve the community in southern history. The center has created publications such as The Encyclopedia of Southern CultureNew Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, and Living Blues magazine. The center also conducts several outreach programs such as the Gilder-Jordan Lecture in Southern Cultural History and the Oxford Conference for the Book. There is also the Music of the South Concert Series and Symposium and the Future of the South Symposium. All of these are contributions to the community that keep the rich southern history of the area alive. By involving the community, the center makes a lasting impact on both students and the city of Oxford.

1. Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Visit Oxford MS. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://visitoxfordms.com/attractions/southern-culture-center/.

2. Mission. Southern Studies. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/about/mission/.

3. History. Southern Studies. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/about/history/.

4. Barnard Observatory. Southern Studies. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/about/barnard-observatory/.