Mobile Register newspaper stand where papers were sold on the "honor system," c. 1925. Erik Overbey Collection.


Foodways Symposium

The Down the Bay Oral History Team is celebrating foodways, past and present, with a visit from Oral Historian Andre Taylor.  Join us March 30-April 1 to share in our history of food!

Thursday, March 30 at 3:30 pm- Join Oral Historian Andre Taylor for his talk “What Momma Passed to Me: Black Food as Memory and History” in the Marx Library Rodning Gallery. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.  The Marx Library is located at 5901 USA Drive North, and the Rodning Gallery is on the 3 rd floor of the library.

Friday, March 31: Andre Taylor will interview Down the Bay community members about their unwritten recipes and food traditions to add to our public archive at the McCall Library. If you're interested in sharing your memories of Down the Bay, food-related or otherwise, contact the McCall Library at (251) 341-3900 or for more information.

Saturday, April 1 from 10 am-2 pm - Visit us at the Down the Bay: Food and Photos Day at the James Seals Jr. Recreation Center. We will share historic photos from the McCall Library, memories of food from the Down the Bay Oral History Project, and artifacts from the I-10 Mobile River Bridge Archaeology Project.

Oral Historian Andre Taylor will share his work about memory and food. This event is free and lunch will be provided. The James Seals Jr. Recreation Center is located at 540 Texas Street.

This symposium is part of the Down the Bay Oral History Project, a partnership between the Center for Archaeological Studies, the Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library with support from the National endowment for the Humanities, and the African American Studies Program. 

Article Published

Deborah Gurt's new article on the Jewish Mobile Oral History Project has been published by the Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies of Yale University Library. Read it here Community Oral History to widen the path: The Jewish Mobile Oral History Project

Down the Bay Oral History Project

The McCall Library Oral History Team is recording stories about the Down the Bay community to create a public archive of the histories that aren’t written. If you have memories of Down the Bay, we want to add them to our archives. For more information, or to schedule an interview, call 251-341-3900 or email Oral history recordings and transcripts, as well as photos and other related documents, will be made publicly available at our archives on the University of South Alabama campus. 

This project is a partnership between the McCall Library, the African American Studies program,  and the Center for Archaeological Studies as part of the I-10 Mobile River Bridge Archaeological Project .



Down the Bay Photo Sharing Day

The McCall Library Oral History Team will be sharing photos of Down the Bay from the archives on October 29, 2022 from 10 am - 2 pm at the James Seals Jr. Recreation Center (540 Texas Street).

Come help identify locations, businesses, and people in the photos. Learn more about the Down the Bay Oral History Project and how you can contribute your memories to the archives. Light refreshments will be served.



Large NEH Grant Awarded for Humanities Collaboration at South

The University of South Alabama was just awarded its largest NEH grant ever in the Humanities, $453,000 to support two projects united under the theme, "History, Humanities, Community and Justice in Alabama." The McCall Library partnership with the Honors College is one of the major recipients of this grant, specifically the oral history and community engagement work led by interim Director Deborah Gurt and Honors College Dean, Dr. Kathy Cooke. 

The funding will be used to support two one-year positions in the McCall Library that will build institutional processes for finding curricular and co-curricular opportunities to develop community oral history projects, as well as technical handling of oral history products for wide public access. The Archaeology Museum is the other recipient of funds under this proposal that will support development of an exhibit and other public programs. We are delighted to receive this endorsement of our work and critical support that will allow its continuation and development.

New Guide to McCall Library Oral History Collections Published

We've been working to digitize our important legacy interviews as well as collecting new material from communities and individuals in the area. View the libguide.

View the recorded session with Roberta Grossman

Who Will Write Our History? Stream the film for free October 4-17
Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, a clandestine group of journalists, scholars, and community leaders in the Warsaw Ghetto vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. Now, for the first time, their story is told in the documentary featuring the voices of three-time Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award® winner Adrien Brody. Watch the film then join the conversation.

A conversation with Filmmaker Roberta Grossman
Together with community partners, the McCall Library will present this documentary film on the hidden archive of the Warsaw Ghetto and the group of people who created it. Their weapons of resistance were pen and paper. Watch the film online (link to come) then join the conversation Thursday, October 15 at 6 pm with Roberta Grossman. Register in advance for the event. Watch the film trailer below.

The McCall Library is hosting a holiday print sale!
A wide selection of photographs are available for purchase December 2-13 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday 8am-12 and 1-5pm. Stop by to shop for unique historic images of Mobile and the region. They make great gifts and your purchase supports the University Libraries.

Palaemon Press Limited Exhibit Opening and Writers Roundtable
Please join us for two exciting events to celebrate the gift of the Palaemon Press Limited collection on Friday, September 6, 2019. At 2 pm in the Marx Library Auditorium, we will host a writers roundtable with three distinguished writers: Sue Brannan Walker, Frye Gaillard, and Charlotte Pence. Following, there will be an opening reception from 4:00-6:00 pm in the Marx Library Rodning Gallery. The exhibit will showcase the elegantly designed books, chapbooks and broadsides published by Stuart Wright's Palaemon Press Limited from 1976-1985. Also featured will be Eudora Welty's: Twenty Photographs - a collection representing the depression-era in the American South. Refreshments will be served. 

Joshua Burford to visit Campus
The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library is sponsoring a special visit from Joshua Burford, Director of Community Engagement for invisible Histories Project. The invisible Histories Project acts to connect Queer communities and local repositories for the preservation of the history of LGBTQ life throughout the American South. The archives will preserve, collect, and protect the living history of the diversity of the Queer community and experiences both urban and rural. IHP is a community driven project that seeks to engage Southern Queer people, local universities, libraries, and archives in the process of protecting the vanishing LGBTQ history of our region.

The events of the day - April 11 - will include:
An exhibit of material from the Robert Eugene Bell Collection in the McCall Library exhibit cases (Marx Library 3rd floor).
11:00 AM Student round table in Marx Library Gallery 181 - Refreshments provided!
2:00 PM Film screening of OUT IN THE SOUTH and talkback with Josh in Marx Library Auditorium.
All are welcome.

McCall Library Acquires New Book Scanner
In February, we were able to purchase a high quality book scanner which will allow us to begin digitization projects that had been on hold. Our first major project will include scanning some very fragile letter-books from the Winter family papers.  Look for more news on this in the coming months.

Northern Kentucky University Group Visit
On Wednesday, March 13 the McCall Library welcomed a group of 20 students from Northern Kentucky University. This group were participating in an experiential learning tour of the region and were taking in sites related to African American history and the Civil Rights Movement. They included USA on their tour in order to learn about our notable Civil Rights collections, including the John LeFlore Papers, Neighborhood Organized Workers Papers, Michael Donald Papers, and the Non-Partisan Voters League Collection. They spent two hours with us learning about our beautiful space, the variety of collections we hold, and discussing the challenge of curating diversely representative collections. The students were attentive, curious, and engaged - they asked a lot of questions! In addition to a tour of the archives, Processing and Digital Archivist Deborah Gurt led a document analysis practicum with items from the Non-Partisan Voters League Collection. Want to learn more about our Civil Rights collections? Contact the Archives at or call 341-3900.

Palaemon Press Collection
The McCall Library is happy to announce the arrival of John and Beverly Iredale's gift of the Palaemon Press Collection. Stuart Wright (born 1948) established the fine press operation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1976. He published many elegantly designed books, chapbooks, and broadsides under the Palaemon Press Limited imprint through 1985, and a few titles under the imprint of Stuart Wright, Publisher, through 1987. The press's output represents a significant but, to date, little-studied contribution to the literature of its time, and to the aesthetic of the printed word.  This collection strengthens our holdings in the area of Southern writers and book art.

Invisible Histories Project Partner
The McCall Library is proud to become a partner with the Invisible Histories Project in their work to document the past and present of LGBTQ communities in Alabama. As a partner, we will become a local repository for relevant collections in Mobile and the Gulf Coast region. Look for programs in the spring as we invite Director of Community Engagement, Joshua Burford to speak about the project.

New Collections!
The McCall Library is pleased to announce the arrival of two new collections showcasing the diversity of Mobile's population. We have received the Ernest Horton Collection, a group of 148 photographs featuring African American neighborhoods and families captured on film by Ernest Horton, who worked as an assistant to Erik Overbey from 1918 to 1940. These images present a view of life in Mobile in the first half of the 20th century and we are thrilled to be able to provide access.

Secondly, we are happy to announce the opening of a collection called Mardi Gras and Social Change Oral Histories. This oral history collection contains 16 interviews in digital audio and transcript form, and one written account, exploring topics related to Mardi Gras in Mobile and the experience of gay, lesbian, and transgender Mobilians, LGBT issues, The Order of Osiris, race, and other subjects. The interviews were conducted by historian Isabel Machado from 2014-2017.

Come and learn something new about Mobile's history and people!

Souvenirs of Mobile
Our spring exhibit features vintage postcards from the St. John Collection depicting scenic areas of Mobile and various landmarks.  Now on view through June 2018.

A Tale of Two Mobiles
Stop in to view our new exhibit by Kristina Polizzi featuring side by side photographs of Mobile's historic buildings taken in the 1930s and 1980s. Marx Library 3rd floor hallway display cases, now through April 30, 2018. 

Lorna Woods
The African American Studies program and the McCall Library are pleased to present a talk by direct descendant Lorna Woods on growing up in Africatown and the legacy of the Clotilda survivors.

African Roots and the Art of Israel Lewis III
The McCall Library is pleased to present a new exhibit featuring the artwork of former Africatown resident, Clotilda descendant, and USA alumnus Israel Lewis III. Come and view his colorful drawings featuring traditional west African motifs and Lewis' own explanation of his inspiration. Learn the story of the Clotilda and the unique African community that was formed in the Plateau area of Mobile. Come and see how Zora Neale Hurston and Questlove are connected to this story. Marx Library 3rd floor hallway display cases, now through February 28, 2018.

McCall Library Archivist Deborah Gurt is featured this month on the University of Michigan's Frankel Center Alumni Spotlight

We congratulate Kristina Polizzi on the well-deserved promotion to Library Technical Assistant II. If you have called or come in to the McCall Library in the past three years, Kristina has most likely assisted you. Join us in wishing her well!

The Broad View: Erik Overbey's Panoramas
Come and see our latest exhibit featuring the striking panoramic photographs of Erik Overbey. His sweeping images depict a growing city and its people, including group portraits, scenic views and industrial landscapes. Beginning September 6.

Capturing Light: Snapshots from the History of Photography
You are invited to visit our new exhibit exploring the history of photographic processes and equipment. It features vintage cameras and accessories from the Thomason Collection as well as images from several of our photographic collections. Can you tell a daguerreotype from an ambrotype? Come and learn the difference. On display July 1-August 31.

New Collection Documenting the Lives of Holocaust Survivors of Mobile 
The Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education will be presenting its annual donation of Agnes Tennenbaum Holocaust Memorial Library books in May.  This year the donation will include a special collection of dossiers documenting the lives of several Holocaust survivors who lived in Mobile. These files include original documents, testimonies, biographies, photographs and other materials to be housed in the McCall Library. This collection adds to our growing inventory of materials documenting the long and important history of the Jewish community of Mobile.

New Archivist 
The McCall Library welcomes new Assistant Librarian and Processing Digital Archivist, Deborah Gurt. Ms. Gurt comes to us from The University of Southern Mississippi after completing work on an NEH grant processing oral histories of the Civil Rights Era.  With a background in digital libraries as well as history, she will be an asset to the Archives.

Grand Opening 
The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library celebrated its grand opening on Thursday, June 30, 2016. It was a celebration of the collection's historical treasures moving to South's main campus — 38 years after the USA Archives was founded. The archives, now on the Marx Library’s third floor, contains 10,000-square-feet of fire-protected space with both temperature and humidity controls. It also includes collections of additional manuscripts, photos and artifacts pertaining to Mobile, southwest Alabama, its people and the University. The public space includes built-in wooden displays for exhibits, a lobby, reception area and reading room. The library’s elevator opens onto the new lobby at the third floor. The facility is now open to the public. 

Call for Papers for 2014 Gulf South Historical Association
Please click here for the call for papers for this year's Gulf South Historical Association meeting, which will be held in Galveston, Texas, from October 9 through October 11. The theme for this year's conference is "Pleasure and Happiness in the Gulf South." Papers on other topics are welcome as well.

Former U.S. Congressman Jo Bonner Donates Congressional Papers to The McCall Library
The McCall Library proudly announces the acquisition of former U.S. Congressman Jo Bonner's papers. The 309 boxes of material received from Bonner's congressional office include speeches, audio tapes, photographs, correspondence, and other assorted files typically found within such papers. Some of the more important issues dealt with by Congress during Bonner's tenure include TARP, Cash for Clunkers, the Patriot Act, and the Voting Rights Act. With the inclusion of Bonner's papers The McCall Library now holds the past fifty years of Alabama District One's congressional materials.

Oral Interviews with Faculty and Staff of Most Pure Heart of Mary Now Available
Sister Patricia Caraher, a former faculty member at all-black Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic School, and her team of interviewers have deposited with us 16 CDs containing 33 oral interviews with other former faculty and former students of the school. Interviewees include such notable people as former Clinton secretary of labor Alexis Herman and local native Dora Finley.

The McCall Library Receives Don Siegelman Papers
Eddie Curran, former reporter with the Mobile Press Register recently donated his collection of investigative material into the gubernatorial career of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. The papers include public records, court records, email, correspondence, newspaper stories, financial documents, election records, notes. The papers are not comprehensive and do not reflect material demonstrating the former governor's point of view. The collection is open for research.

Hundreds of Images of Bankhead and Wallace Tunnels Now Available
The McCall Library recently acquired approximately 2,000 progress photographs (early 1940s to early 2000s) of construction of the Bankhead and Wallace Tunnels along with correspondence related to the tunnels, daily log books, a city commissioners' report (1953), a city code book (1955), and a report related to the reconstruction of Fort Conde (1974).

McCall Library receives the papers of Jim Clark Jr., the sheriff of Selma, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement's voting rights demonstrations of 1965. An inventory to the collection is available here.

First portion of massive Doy Leale McCall Collection now open! Click here to access the guide.

Former USA Archives Given Gift Worth $3.1 Million
On May 6, the University of South Alabama held a press conference to announce that the former USA Archives has acquired a collection of historical documents worth $3.1 million. As part of the gift, the University also announced that the Archives will now be called The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection of historical documents donated by the family of Doy Leale McCall Sr. include material from the mid-18th through the 20th century. In it are presidential land grants, papers related to slavery and Reconstruction, plantation documents, Civil War diaries, and papers of the Winter Iron Works, among others.

The collection remains closed for now. Staff of The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library plan to open it in stages, with the printed material being first. Announcements of the periodic openings will be made. Below are two of the images from the May 6 press conference. For more information, please call (251) 434-3800 or email us at


University of South Alabama Seated from left to right are Doy Leale McCall III, Margaret Rolfsen McCall, John McCall (grandchildren of Doy Leale McCall Sr.), USA president Gordon Moulton, Senior Vive-President for Academic Affairs David Johnson, and Vice-President for Development Joseph Busta.

staff and students at USAStaff and Students of The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the May 6 press conference.

Friends of the Archives meeting, Tuesday, May 10 
Plan to attend the next Friends of the University Archives meeting on Tuesday, May 10, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.. Featured will be more information on an exciting new collection and a presentation of some of the rich historic documents from that collection. For more information call 434.3800 or email

Gulf South Historical Association Annual Conference
Call for papers for the 2011 Gulf South Historical Association's annual conference.

Wilson C. Burton Portrait Index Now Online
The Wilson C. Burton portrait collection is made up of nearly 77,000 negatives taken between 1935 and 1998. Primarily consists of portraits but also includes other significant images. An index to the collection is available.


Large Bequest Left to Archives
On June 8, the archives received a check for $45,944.53 from the Mark J. Hanrahan Trust. The amount was left to us by Mr. Hanrahan in memory of his long-time partner Robert E. Bell. Mr. Hanrahan donated Mr. Bell’s papers to the archives after Mr. Bell’s death in 1999. Mr. Hanrahan’s trust contained no instructions for how the money should be used, and its disposition has not yet been decided. We plan, however, to do something in memory of Mr. Bell.

Book Signing
The local chapter of The Links, Incorporated, presented three opportunities to see and hear Linda Kenney Miller, whose book, Beacon on the Hill, about her grandfather's relationships with Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, was recently published.

Friends of the Archives' Spring Meeting
The Friends of the University of South Alabama Archives held its annual spring meeting on Tuesday, March 30, 2010, in room 181 of the University Library. The featured speaker for the event was Scotty E. Kirkland, a recent MA graduate at the university. The title of his talk was "Mobile, the Boswell Amendment, and the transformation of Alabama's Democratic Party."

Archives Receives Another Grant
Late last year we told you about our grant application, in conjunction with the Junior League of Mobile, to the J. L. Bedsole Foundation for funds to purchase supplies to process the Junior League Records. On January 11, we received confirmation from the foundation that our grant application had been fully funded. The check will soon be in hand, the records transferred to us, supplies purchased, and processing begun. 


Grant Awarded
On November 25, the Archives was notified that its grant application in the amount of $5,917 to the National Endowment for the Humanities was fully funded as a We the People grant. The monies will go to complete processing of the Wilson C. Burton Collection and begin processing of the Wilbur F. Palmer Collection. We will continue to post reports on the progress of the projects.

Archives partners with Junior League of Mobile
Several months ago the Junior League of Mobile approached the Archives about donating its records. The two organizations then partnered to apply for a grant from the Bedsole Foundation for funds to purchase archival supplies to re-house and organize the Junior League's papers. We should receive word on the success of the grant by the middle of December. The official donation of the records is pending that decision.

Archives completes requirements for NHPRC/HRAB grant
On April 6, 2009, the National Historic Publications and Records Commission, through the Alabama state Historical Records Advisory Board, awarded the Archives a $2,500 grant. The grant was applied toward supplies to re-house and organize the Wilson C. Burton photographic collection. The monies arrived and this past summer, graduate students began working on the collection. To date, 80 percent of the collection has been re-housed, or an estimated 72,000 negatives. For more on the collection, please see our guide to photographic collections.