The Center for Rural Studies was a project of the Joint Educational Consortium (JEC), which is a cooperative association of Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, and the Ross Foundation. It was established under grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ross Foundation. Arkansas Endowment for the Humanities and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation supplied supplemental grants. The JEC draws on the resources of the two universities and of the surrounding area to develop programs of interest and benefit to the general public.
The fundamental purpose of the Center for Rural Studies was to evaluate, from a humanist perspective, the continuing relevance of the rural experience in our national life and the impact which the changes of the twentieth century are having upon rural culture and value systems. The rapid transformation of the rural economy in the years since the Great Depression, the tensions of economic and social change, and the homogenization of American culture brought about by the mass media suggest that there is little time remaining in which to collect, inventory, and analyze the tangible historic artifacts and the intangible culture and social patterns of rural America. This sense of urgency brought about the beginning of the project, since it was felt that the passage of a few more years might have made unrecoverable much of the folklore and speech patterns, the music and folk art, information on social and family lifestyles, religious influences, and political traditions.
This collection contains administrative and financial materials, including items pertaining to twelve conferences, a seminar, a symposium, and a workshop, as well as Joint Educational Consortium programs and announcements. Other materials include abstracts and summaries of conference papers, biographical material, papers and speeches, and paperwork for the National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Over 600 recordings and transcripts were collected, featuring interviews with rural Arkansas residents.
Center for Rural Studies Records. Riley-Hickingbotham Library Archives and Special Collections, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas.