The Hillbilly Heartbeats - May Kennedy McCord Audio Collection


Lyons Memorial Library at the College of the Ozarks houses a unique archive of materials known as the Ozarkiana Collection. Established in 1968, the purpose of the collection is to preserve materials and facilitate research on the history and culture of the Ozarks. The collection contains a variety of materials. Of special interest are photos taken by Vance Randolph and Townsend Godsey, letters written by Rose O’Neill, and radio broadcasts from May Kennedy McCord. Taney and Stone county newspapers dating back to the 19th century are available on microfilm and/or in print. Documents related to the history of College of the Ozarks are also preserved.   A portion of the materials have been digitized, and made accessible on this website for researchers and students, through a cooperative agreement between the College of the Ozarks and the Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters.

The digital documents and photographs contained within this webpage are the property of the College of the Ozarks, Lyons Memorial Library and are used with the permission of the College of the Ozarks.  These materials may not be used for reproduction or commerical purposes without permission of the College of the Ozarks.

The majority of the documents, especially photographic items, are provided here, watermarked and at a reduced resolution.  If you are interested in viewing the original document, please contact the Lyons Memorial Library.

The Ozarkiana Collection is open to all users during the library’s normal operating hours. No appointment is necessary but those with specific research questions are encouraged to contact a librarian at 417-690-3411. Inquiries can also be sent to Gwen Simmons at

ozarkiana collection website

Hillbilly Heartbeats - May Kennedy McCord Audio Collection

May Kennedy McCord (1880-1979) was a celebrity of radio and early television. She was known as “Queen of the Hillbillies”.

For eleven years, McCord had a column in the editorial section of the Springfield News-Leader called “Hillbilly Heartbeats”. This column was full of reminiscence of the Ozarks regional past, with stories of folktales, ghost stories, old recipes, and “the old ways”. Her writings were extremely popular, and she gained quite a following. She had not even begun her writing career until the age of 40.

From 1942 to 1945, May gained some experience in broadcast radio, talking to listeners about the Ozarks on KWK in St. Louis.

The success and popularity of her Hillbilly Heartbeats newspaper column, in part lead to a radio career with a fifteen-minute program every Saturday morning on KWTO radio out of Springfield, Missouri; also called Hillbilly Heartbeats. 

May McCord became an active leader and participant in many organizations including: All-Ozarks Folk Festivals, Missouri State Writers Guild, Ozarks Creative Writers’ Guild, Ozark Press Association, Missouri Federation of Women’s Clubs, Springfield Musical Club, National Folk Lore Society and Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters.  If you are interested in using the original recordings please contact the Lyons Memorial Library.  Use of audio-visual materials found on this website is permitted for private or personal use only. This material may be protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Copyrighted materials may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of Fair Use, outlined in section 107 of copyright law. Publication, commercial use, or reproduction of this image or the accompanying data requires prior written permission from the copyright holder. User assumes all responsibility for obtaining the necessary permission to publish (including in digital format) from the copyright holder.