African American Sources at the McCall Library

Herbert Conoway and Marquita Trenier, 1978's MAMGA king and queen, and their court. Courtesy Marshall Wormly

This guide includes records of organizations, papers of individuals, oral interviews, and legal cases. It provides a brief description of each collection, including dates, size, and links to any online finding aids. It also lists secondary sources at The McCall Library that support the collections, such as dissertations, theses, books, articles, and newspapers.

This guide was prepared by Delene Case on 12/20/2004.

For more information about these collections please email us at

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Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic School
Accession: 655-2013
Size of Collection: .75 linear feet

This collection include 16 CDs containing 33 oral interviews held with former faculty and students of the segregated, all-black Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic School. The school was organized in 1899. Some of the interviewees include Dora Finley, Sheila Flanagan, J. Gary Cooper, Harold Ducloux, Fred Richardson, and former Clinton secretary of labor Alexis Herman. There are transcripts for most of the interviews.

NAACP (1930-1956)
Accession: 85-07-093
Size of Collection: 4 linear feet

Most of the early material for the local branch of this organization is located in the John LeFlore papers. The material dates from 1930 until 1956, when the organization was banned from operating in Alabama until 1964. The records include correspondence, affidavits, financial and membership records, minutes, miscellaneous notes, and promotional materials. Early regional and branch correspondence focus on employment opportunities and public accommodations. Following the 1944 Supreme Court decision that white primaries were unconstitutional, the focus shifted to political rights.

Neighborhood Organized Workers (NOW) (1968-1971 and 2003)
Accession: 06-09-453, 06-09-454
Size of Collection: .75 linear foot

Founded in 1966, the Neighborhood Organized Workers (NOW) was a local African-American direct-action group that strived to achieve political, social, and economic reform in their community. This collection contains copies of NOW’s FBI files as well as oral interviews with three former NOW members. For more on the collection, please click here.

Neighborhood Organized Workers (1966-1969)
Accession: 92-09-247
Size of Collection: 1 linear foot

This civil rights organization existed from 1966 until 1973. Material relating to this organization is located in the NPVL records and vertical files. See also, articles listed below.

Non-Partisan Voters League (NPVL) (1956-1987)
Accession: 92-09-247
Size of Collection: 22 linear feet

The exact date of the founding of the Non-Partisan Voters League is unknown but was probably before 1956 when the Alabama attorney general banned the NAACP from the state. The collection holds records which span thirty years (1956-1987) with the bulk of materials between 1961 and 1975. As the records of this collection reveal, the NPVL demanded the hiring of more black municipal employees, sued to force desegregation of the Mobile school system, filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice to open public accommodations to all, launched massive voter registration campaigns, and challenged the constitutionality of Mobile's commission form of municipal government.

See also Keith Nicholls, "The Non-Partisan Voters League of Mobile, Alabama" (vertical file).

Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1965)
Accession: 92-09-247
Size of Collection: 2 files

A local branch of this organization existed in Mobile County for a brief period in 1965. Material relating to the SCLC can be found in the NPVL files.


Gaylord Lee Clark Photographs (mid- to late-1800s and early 1900s)
Accession: 10-07-526
Size of Collection: 27 prints

Original black and white prints of various sizes showing scenes from the Dallas County plantation of Judge John Starke Hunter. Included are several images of former Hunter Plantation slaves. There are also scenes taken in Montgomery, Alabama, including the inauguration of Jefferson Davis, as well as images of flooding in Mobile, Alabama, after the 1906 hurricane. There are no negatives but all of the images have been digitized.

Michael Donald Papers (1962-1981)
Accession: 06-09-466
Size of Collection: .5 linear foot

On March 21, 1981, James "Tiger" Knowles and Henry Francis Hays, local members of the United Klans of America, lynched Michael Donald. Hays and Knowles kidnapped Donald and beat him with a tree limb before slitting his throat. They then took his body and hung it from a tree on Herndon Avenue near his home. Eventually both Knowles and Hays were convicted of the crime. Knowles was given a life sentence and Hays was executed. The papers of Michael Donald contain selected Hays and Knowles court proceedings, the bulk of which is related to Hays. Also included are FBI investigation files, coroner’s report, and several articles relating to the cases and the Ku Klux Klan.

John L. LeFlore Papers (1926-1976)
Accession: 85-07-093
Size of Collection: 11 linear feet

John LeFlore worked as a civil rights activist in Mobile for fifty years, 1925-1975. His papers document the early work of the NAACP in Mobile and provide insight into his life and aspirations. Other papers in the collection reveal LeFlore's work in public and private life. He served in leadership positions in many organizations ranging from the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters to the Mobile Committee for the Support of Public Education.

John LeFlore Oral History Project (ca. 1990)
Accession: 97-20-328
Size of Collection: 3 linear feet

This collection contains video interviews with ten individuals who knew or worked closely with John LeFlore: Joseph Langan, O. B. Purifoy, Dr. W. B. LeFlore, Janet LeFlore, Frederick Richardson, J. C. Randolph, Hon. James T. Strickland, Henry C. Williams, Geraldine Clark, and Lancie Thomas. The thirty-four tapes are indexed.

Melton McLaurin Interviews (1970-1972)
Accession: 93-16-270
Size of Collection: .25 linear foot

Transcriptions of interviews with civil rights activist John LeFlore, newspaper editor Frank Thomas, and former mayor Joseph Langan.

Jeanette K. Maygarden Oral History interviews (1994)
Accession: 00-20-362
Size of Collection: .5 linear foot

Two videotape interviews with Paulette Davis Horton (August 3 and 9, 1994). Horton is the author of The Avenue and other local history books. To quote from this source, the user must obtain permission from the interviewee or his or her heirs.

Nafiza Ahmed interviews (2001)
Accession: 01-16-383
Size of Collection: 4 tapes

These interviews are recorded on audio tape. The four interviewees participated in Mobile's civil rights movement and the Neighborhood Organized Workers or supported part of the movement. Some restrictions may apply.

Delene Case interviews (2003)
Accession: 05-16-423
Size of Collection: .25 linear foot

The nine interviewees participated or assisted with the Neighborhood Organized Workers (NOW) and/or other civil rights organizations in Mobile during the 1960s and 1970s. The interviews are recorded on audio tape and the transcriptions are included in the collection. An email conversation has been printed and is included in the interview transcripts. These interviews were part of Ms. Case’s M.A. thesis, which is listed in the secondary sources below.

Legal and Government Records

Bolden v. City of Mobile (1976-1982)
Accession: 85-09-072
Size of Collection: 10 linear feet

This lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of Mobile's commission form of municipal government, and it brought about the mayor-council form of government the city now operates under. This collection include case files from the U.S. District Court and includes all documents in the civil suit, materials from the plaintiff and defendant, and all other official documents.

Mobile Circuit Court Records (1830-1917)
Accession: 85-09-125
Size of Collection: 431 linear feet (files), 402 linear feet (bound volumes)

These records include divorce cases and other civil and criminal cases involving African Americans. Indexes are available.

Mobile Housing Board Records (1952-1967)
Accession: 98-08-344
Size of Collection: 361 linear feet

The Mobile Housing Board was organized in 1935 during the Great Depression when business leaders petitioned the city commission to grant them a charter for a non-profit public corporation to provide construction jobs and housing for the poor. The objective was to obtain funds to clear sub-standard housing and build safe and sanitary housing for the poor. The major project areas were the Broad Street-Beauregard Street connector, Water Street, East Church Street, and the Central Texas Street. The records of the housing board are organized by urban renewal project areas. Included are acquisitions, appraisals, condemnations, rehabilitation, relocation, completed contracts, urban renewal files, and loan and grant applications.

See also, Meredith Johnston, "Urban Renewal and the African-American Community in Mobile, Alabama: A Study of the Central Texas Street Urban Renewal Project, 1968-1974" (M.A. Thesis, University of South Alabama, 2000).

Other Resources

Photograph Collections

Researchers will find numerous photos of African Americans under the following subject categories: Individuals, Groups, Street Scenes, Businesses, Education, Churches, and Special Events.

African American Newspapers on Microfilm
Inner City News, 1977-1995
The Mobile Beacon, 1959-2001
Mobile Weekly Press, 1914-1929
Press Forum Weekly, 1929-1934
Mobile Weekly Advocate, 1939-1958
The New Times, 1988-1994
The Mobile Republican, 1870-1872
The Southern Watchman, 1899-1904
The Gulf Informer, 1949-1952
The Nationalist, 1869

Vertical Files
Researchers will find vertical files at The McCall Library relating to African-American churches, education, and individuals, as well as the articles listed below.

Abbreviations: VF=Vertical File, GSHR=Gulf South Historical Review

Ahmed, Nafiza, "A City Too Respectable to Hate: Mobile During the Era of Desegregation, 1962-1965," 15 (1): 6-17 (GSHR)

Ahmed, Nafiza, "The Neighborhood Organization Workers of Mobile, Alabama: Black Power Politics and Local Civil Rights
Activism in the Deep South, 1968-1971." (VF)

Alsobrook, David, "A.N. Johnson." (VF)

Alsobrook, David, "Mobile's Solitary Sentinel: U.S. Attorney William H. Armbrecht and the Richard Robertson Lynching Case of 1909," 20 (1): 6-27 (GSHR)

Blacksher, James and Larry Menefee, "At Large Elections and One Person, One Vote: The Search for the Meaning of Racial Vote Dilution." (VF)

Blacksher, James and Larry Menefee, "From Reynolds v. Sims to City of Mobile v. Bolden: Have the White Suburbs Commandeered the Fifteenth Amendment?" (VF)

Breen, William J., "The State and Workplace Reform in the South: War Manpower Commission Initiatives and Employer Resistance on the Gulf Coast in World War II," 18 (2): 6-37 (GSHR)

Byers, S. H. M., "The Last Slave Ship" (VF)

Davidson, Chandler, "At-Large Elections and Minority-Group Representation: A Re-examination of Historical and Contemporary Evidence." (VF)

Davidson, Chandler, "Nonpartisan Slating Groups as a Mechanism of Minority Vote Dilution." (VF)

Fitts, Alston, "Alabama's First Black Judge: Roderick B. Thomas of Selma" (VF)

Fitzgerald, Michael W., "Emancipation and its Urban Consequences: Freedom Comes to Mobile," 18 (1): 31-46 (GSHR)

Fitzgerald, Michael W., "Political Factionalism and the African-American Community: Popular Politics in Mobile during Reconstruction" (VF)

Fitzgerald, Michael W., "Railroad Subsidies & Black Aspirations: The Politics of Economic Development in Reconstruction Mobile, 1865-1879" (VF)

Flanagan, Sheila, "In Search of Mobile's African-American History," (VF)

Free, Joe Brayton, "Petitions to Become a Slave," 15 (2): 98-107 (GSHR)

Kendall, John S., "New Orleans' Peculiar Institution" (slavery) (VF)

Koenigsberg, David, "The Standard of Proof in At-Large Vote Dilution Discrimination Cases after City of Mobile v. Bolden." (VF)

McCrary, Peyton, "History in the Courts: The Significance of the City of Mobile v. Bolden." (VF)

McLaurin, Melton, "Mobile Blacks and World War II" (VF)

Mitchell, Richard, "Bolden v. Mobile: Equitable Discretion Unchained." (VF)

Murray, Albert, "Black Pride in Mobile," The Omni Americans (VF)

Nelson, Bruce, "Organized Labor and the Struggle for Black Equality: Mobile during World War II" (VF)

Nicholls, Keith, "NAACP: Outlawed in Alabama, 1956-64" and "The Non-Partisan Voters League of Mobile, Alabama" (VF)

Nicholls, Keith, "Major Civil Rights Cases - Brief Review of Proceedings & Results" (VF)

O'Rourke, Timothy, "Constitutional and Statutory Challenges to Local At-Large Elections." (VF)

"Making the Violation Fit the Remedy: The Intent Standard and Equal Protection Law." (Yale Law Journal Vol. 92, 1982) (VF)

Thomas, Mary Martha, "The Mobile Homefront during the Second World War," 1 (2): 55-74 (GSHR)

Books, Theses, Dissertations

Hank Aaron, I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story. Ruth Lonnie Wheeler, ed. (Harper Collins, 1991).

Shawn Bivens, Mobile, Alabama's People of Color: A Tricentennial History, 1702-2002. (Victoria, B.C., Canada: Trafford Publishing, 2004).

Delene Case, "'Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around': The Black Freedom Struggle in Mobile, Alabama, 1902-1969" (M.A. Thesis, University of South Alabama, 2004).

Richard Chastang, St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church: From the Origin of St. Paul's Chapel to the departure of Fr. Sabino Grossi, SSJ. (Mobile, Alabama: STA Publications, 2004).

Paulette Davis-Horton, Avenue: the Place, the People, the Memories, 1799-1986. (Mobile, Alabama: Horton, Inc., 1991).

Eric Duke, "A Life in the Struggle: John L. LeFlore and the Civil Rights Movements in Mobile, Alabama (1925-1975)" (M.A. Thesis, Florida State University, 1998).

Michael Fitzgerald, Urban Emancipation: Popular Politics in Reconstruction Mobile, 1860-1890. (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2002).

Robert M. Glennon, Kudjo: The Last Slave Voyage to America. (Fairhope, Alabama: Over the Transom Publishing Company, 1999).

Lois Virginia Meacham Gould, "In Full Enjoyment of their Liberty: The Free Women of Color of the Gulf Ports of New Orleans,
Mobile, and Pensacola, 1769-1860" (Ph.D. diss., Emory University, 1991).

Patterson Toby Graham, A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama's Public Libraries, 1900-1965. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002).

Meredith Johnston, "Urban Renewal and the African-American Community in Mobile, Alabama: A Study of the Central Texas Street Urban Renewal Project, 1968-1974" (M.A. Thesis, University of South Alabama, 2000).

Christopher Andrew Nordmann, "Free Negroes in Mobile County, Alabama" (Ph.D. diss., University of Alabama, 1990).

Fredrick Richardson, The Genesis and Exodus of NOW. (Boynton Beach, Florida: Futura Printing, 1996).

Fredrick Richardson, The Stone Street Baptist Church - Alabama's First, 1806-1982. (Boynton Beach, Florida: Futura Printing, 1982).

Emma L. Roche, Historic Sketches of the South. (Mobile, Alabama: D.L. Printing, 1989).

Dian Lee Shelley, "The Effects of Increasing Racism on the Creole Colored in Three Gulf Coast Cities between 1803 and 1860" (M.A. Thesis, University of West Florida, 1971).

Tom Stanton, Hank Aaron and the Home Run that Changed America. (New York: William Morrow, 2004).

"Most Pure Heart of Mary Church, 1899-1999: 100th Anniversary, A Century of Blessings" (Mobile, Alabama, 1999).