The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library


▼   Does The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library accept donations?
Gladly, if they are historically significant collections, especially those that document the literary, social, cultural, economic, political, or legal history of the Alabama Black Belt, of Mobile, of this region, or of the University of South Alabama. Material that does not fit into this collecting policy will not be accepted but we will make every effort to help you locate a suitable repository. If you are interested in donating to us, please call (251) 341-3900, or email To expedite matters, please download and fill out our donation form, and bring it with you when you bring your materials.
▼   What is a Finding Aid?

A finding aid is a document designed to assist patrons who wish to use a manuscript collection for research. Finding aids give a researcher a glimpse into a collection. Typically, they describe various attributes of a collection (more about that below). Researchers use finding aids to help them better understand the contents of a collection and how it is organized. Researchers should keep in mind that the finding aid is not part of the collection; it merely describes the collection. In addition, the finding aid does not contain actual materials from the collection.

Like the collections they describe, a finding aid’s size varies greatly. The ones posted here can range from one page to several hundred and typically contain the following information:

Usually includes the creator of the collection although it may include the compiler of the collection rather than a creator. Typically, if the material is related to a business or organization the collection will be called the Acme Records; if they are the papers of an individual, then the collection will be called the Mary Smith Papers. If, however, the collection contains only one type of material such as correspondence or scrapbooks, then the collection will be called the Mary Smith Scrapbook Collection or the Mary Smith Letters.

The creator of a collection might be an individual, family, civic organization, business, or other entity. In addition, an individual or organization may have gathered materials created by someone else.

Manuscript collection number:
The McCall Library assigns each manuscript collection a unique identifier.

Extent or size of the collection:
Size of a collection is usually expressed in linear feet, unless the collection is quite small, then it's size is described on the item level. For example, we might describe the size of a small collection of letters as "12 items."

Biographical or Organizational History:
Usually presented in narrative form, this section of the finding aid provides background information about the creator or creating agency. When possible, the creator's complete biography is included. The biographical or organizational history may include information found in the collection as well as in published sources.

Scope and Contents Note:
Describes the contents of the collection and should give the reader an idea of the kinds of materials in the collection (i.e., correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, etc.) The scope and contents note should highlight the strengths and/or weaknesses of a collection.

Access to some collections may be restricted either by donor request or so that the institution may adhere to privacy laws protecting, for example, personal medical history.

Preferred citation:
Please use the official collection title, including The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama, when referencing the collection in a published work.

Content List:
The heart of the finding aid. It lists the box, folder number, and folder titles for the collection.



▼   What are the date ranges of the images in The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library?
Our images range in date from about the 1870s up to the present. All of the pre-1895 images are portraits. Not every type of image is covered for the time period after 1895. For example, our architectural images cover the time period from circa 1925 to 2003 but our images of other types may not go beyond the 1950s. The only decade for which we have few images is the 1960s.
▼   Do you have images of everything in Mobile and the surrounding area?
No. Most of our images are restricted to the downtown area of Mobile, not going much further than Fulton Street, although we do have some images of outlying areas. We also have many images of other communities in Mobile and the Eastern Shore, including Fairhope, Foley, Dauphin Island, Coden, and Bayou La Batre. Patrons are urged to contact us with questions regarding your area of interest. .
▼   What type of images does The McCall Library hold?
We have everything from daguerreotypes to 35mm polyester roll film.
▼   Are The McCall Library's photographs available for sale?
Yes, almost all of the images we hold are available for sale to businesses, groups, organizations, governmental bodies, and the general public. At the request of the donor, however, some of our images may not be used for commercial purposes.
▼   How much do reprints cost?
The cost for our photographs varies depending on the type of reproduction and the size. Please refer to our Photograph Services page for more about our pricing and policies. There is an additional cost for the use of our images for commercial purposes. Please refer to this page for more about those costs and policies.
▼   Does The McCall Library accept photograph donations?
Gladly, if they are historically significant negatives of the people, places, and events in Mobile's past or in the past of the Alabama Black Belt, the Eastern Shore, or the University of South Alabama. If you only have the original photograph, we will be happy to scan the original and return it to you. Groups of photographs that are not dated and in which the individuals are not identified are less likely to be accepted. If you are interested in donating some of your photographic material to us, please call us at (251) 341-3900, or email us at
▼   Does The McCall Library require a credit line when its images are used?

Absolutely, all images belonging to us must be credited to our repository. At the minimum we require our repository name to be used but also prefer that the collection name be included. We will furnish that information to the user. There may be an additional charge for providing caption information.