Vol. I, No. 1, 1987

What Has OzarksWatch Said About the Ozarks?

The Idea for an Anthology

In the first issue of OzarksWatch, Summer, 1987, we asked, rhetorically, "Why watch the Ozarks?" and answered as follows: "The Ozarks as a whole, a total environment, is worth watching because it is interesting, it is fragile, it is peculiar, and it is home .... OzarksWatch [will be] a means of communicating with people who care, or should care, about the Ozarks."

Looking back now over four-and-a-half years of publication, it seems to us that OzarksWatch in 157 separate titles, including the writings of more than eighty authors, has said much of substance about the Ozarks region. Though no fiction has been published, almost everything else has--poetry, historical documents, guest editorials, a regular feature about historical preservation, expert reports, accounts of field experiences, diary excerpts, a memoir, interviews, lyrical essays, reminiscences, maps, regular articles, and many photographs and other graphics. Might not an anthology be useful to our publics? So the idea of this special issue was born.

We have selected forty-seven pieces for The OzarksWatch Anthology, taken from the first fifteen issues of OzarksWatch, that seem to us be significant contributions according to the following criteria: they are authoritative and reliable; they offer knowledge and insight; they present new or critical information; they illustrate the variety of the region; they are among themselves representative of the variety of OzarksWatch; and/or they contribute to a regional definition. In addition, they represent high quality writing, a goal we have always sought in the magazine.

A feature of OzarksWatch is that each issue is devoted to a particular theme or motif (noted in the comprehensive index at the end of this issue). The selections for this Anthology, however, are organized into four more general topical groups: "Place and Places," "Custom and Culture," "Economy and Environment,'' and "Heritage and History."

Material from the most recent two issues, Spring /Summer and Fall, 1991, has generally been omitted. From the beginning, OzarksWatch has had an interest in resource conservation and historical preservation. A regular department is "Preservation Corner,'' featuring a structure, site, or topic significant to historical preservation. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources-Division of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, has provided modest grants-in-aid in consideration of that interest and of the provision of preservation information to our publics. "Preservation Corner" articles and other pieces dealing with the built environment will appear in a separate publication.

We are grateful to our many authors. None has ever been paid (except with gratitude and a few extra copies of OzarksWatch). In addition to many professorial colleagues, they have included government officials, journalists and other professional writers, poets, housewives, public historians, state and national park people, business persons, a physician, and more. They deserve the title "OzarksWatchers."

We are grateful too to our readers, who make up the OzarksWatch Society. Membership approaches a thousand, and includes, in addition to individuals, institutions such as libraries, schools, museums, newspapers, television stations, and private businesses. Members are located in many states, on both coasts, and in several foreign countries. The group has sponsored two heritage harvest dinners (both in rural churches) and have joined us for cultural tours in the Ozarks and beyond.

Thousands of new periodicals begin publication in the U.S. each year; and, it must be noted, thousands cease publication as well. If one is published for as long as four years, the statistical probability is that it will continue. OzarksWatch has accomplished four and half years, and will continue.

Cover Illustration:

Copyright -- OzarksWatch

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