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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biography
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Separated Material
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content
  • Separated to the ONE periodical, program, and pamphlet collections

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    Title: Harold L. Call papers
    creator: Call, Hal (Harold Leland)
    Identifier/Call Number: Coll2008-010
    Physical Description: 64.5 Linear Feet [47 archive boxes + 15 archive cartons + 6 archive shoeboxes + 1 map drawer]
    Date (inclusive): 1852-2000
    Date (bulk): bulk
    Abstract: Correspondence, manuscripts, financial records, family papers, notes, clippings, paste-ups, legal papers, flyers, erotica, photographs, slides, home movies, videotapes, memorabilia, card catalogs, and other material created or collected by gay activist, publisher, and businessman, Harold (Hal) Leland Call. One of the founding members of the San Francisco chapter of the Mattachine Society, Call created and edited the Mattachine Review, one of the earliest periodicals dedicated to discussing issues of the homosexual community. He later owned and operated several business ventures, including Pan-Graphic Press, Grand Prix Photo Arts and Adonis Enterprises. The collection comprises material from his family papers; his childhood growing up in Missouri; his early work as a journalist and editor for regional newspapers; his time in the World War II Infantry and the Army Reserves; his world travel; his collection of over 5,000 gay erotic films and videos; his many businesses; and his contributions to the Mattachine Society and the gay and lesbian community.
    Physical Location: The original Super 8mm and 8mm films in this collection, described in Subseries 4.3: Film, are deposited in conjunction with the Outfest Legacy Project at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Researchers wishing to access the materials in Subseries 4.3 may do so by requesting specific items one week in advance or by contacting the UCLA Film & Television Archive.


    Born in Trenton, Missouri on September 20, 1917, Harold Leland (Hal) was one of four sons of Fred and Genne Call, and grew up in Brookfield. He graduated from high school in 1935 and earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri. During World War II, Call enlisted in the Army and became company commander in an infantry battalion. Following the war, he worked as a journalist and editor for regional newspapers in Missouri and Colorado, including the Kansas City Star and the World-Independent Newspaper.
    In the early 1950s, Call moved to San Francisco, California, where he became one of the most influential founding members of the Mattachine Society, in 1953. A controversial figure in the homophile movement, his reputation stems from his "contentious personality" and his active participation in the "conservative takeover" of the Mattachine Foundation and subsequent formation of the Society. It was at this time that Call became one of the first American homosexuals to publicly proclaim his sexuality. As director of the Publications Committee, Call created and edited the Mattachine Review beginning in 1954, a monthly newsletter dedicated to discussing issues relevant to the homosexual community. The Mattachine Review was published by Pan-Graphic Press, a publishing and book service company that Call began with Donald S. Lucas in that same year.
    In addition to his involvement with the Mattachine Society, Call's business ventures included Dorian Book Service, Grand Prix Photo Arts, and Adonis Enterprises. Through these companies, Call produced and distributed gay-themed publications as well as film, video and photographic erotica; and operated private clubs in San Francisco, such as Adonis Video and Circle J Cinema. From the 1960s through the 1990s, Call amassed a collection of over 5,000 gay men's sex videos and films. In addition, Call has been honored by organizations for his contribution to the gay community and his attitude toward sexual freedom.
    Hal Call died of congestive heart failure on December 14, 2000 in San Francisco, California.
    Sources: Harold L. Call Papers, Coll2008-010, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California
    Meeker, Martin. "Call, Hal." Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History in America. Marc Stein, Ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons: Thomson Gale, 2003.
    Sears, James T. Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006.


    The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

    Publication Rights

    Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).

    Acquisition Information

    The Harold L. Call Papers were acquired through a series of donations from Hal Call beginning in 1987, with the last of the donations acquired from his estate in 2005.

    Preferred Citation

    Box #, folder #, Harold L. Call Papers, Coll2008-010, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

    Processing Information

    Formerly housed in boxes 103-192, 103-193, 103-194, 103-195 and 103-197. Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, May 2008.
    Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
    Accrual processed by Kyle Morgan, 2015.

    Separated Material

    From 1987 to 2005, Harold Call or his estate made a series of donations to the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, which has included Mattachine Society records and Call's personal papers. In 1990, Call's collection was combined with Mattachine Society materials from other donated collections to create "The Mattachine Society Project." In May 2008, this collection was divided; Call's personal, family and business papers forming the Harold L. Call Papers (this collection); the Mattachine Society materials forming the Mattachine Society Project Collection (Coll2008-016).

    Separated Material

    Commercially-produced gay erotic videotapes (VHS) from Call's Grand Prix Videotape Library, which were not produced by Call, have been separated from the Harold Call Collection and entered into the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archive's erotic video database. A map of Valencia, Spain, has been removed from the collection.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, financial records, family papers, notes, clippings, paste-ups, legal papers, flyers, erotica, photographs, slides, film, videotapes, memorabilia, card catalogs, and other material created or collected by gay activist, publisher, and businessman, Harold (Hal) Leland Call. It includes family papers dating before Call's birth in 1917 and personal papers spanning his childhood in Missouri up to his death in San Francisco in 2000. The collection is divided into five series: (1) Family and Personal Papers; (2) Business Ventures; (3) Photographs and Slides; (4) Film, Audiovisual and Related Material; and (5) Memorabilia.
    The first series, Family and Personal Papers, contains family papers, including documents dating back to 1852; personal papers related to Call's childhood in Missouri, his service in World War II, his experiences as a newspaper journalist and editor, his foreign travel, and his contribution to the Mattachine Society and the gay and lesbian community until his death in 2000. This series also includes personal and family correspondence dating from 1935.
    The second series contains correspondence, administrative records, card catalogs, and other materials from Call's business activities after his move to San Francisco in 1952, including Pan-Graphic Press, Dorian Book Service, Grand Prix Photo Arts, Circle J Cinema and Adonis Enterprises. Pan-Graphic Press and Dorian Book Service were primarily advertising, publishing and book distribution companies; Grand Prix Photo Arts and Adonis Enterprises produced and exhibited photographic, film and video erotica; while Circle J Cinema was a gay men's private club. This series also includes material from CineMattachine, a film screening series that Call created for Mattachine Society members and which operated out of his Adonis Video store.
    The third series contains family and personal photographs, negatives and slides. It includes erotic and physique images from his Grand Prix Photo Arts company and from other photographers.
    The fourth series contains Call's collection of home movies and video erotica in a variety of formats. The series includes complete inventories of the Grand Prix Videotape Library of gay sex videos; over 780 VHS cassettes from that library (most of which were produced by Call); and Super-8 film home movies documenting his world travel and gay-related events in San Francisco.
    The fifth and final series, Memorabilia, includes buttons, matchbook covers and paraphernalia to Call's World War II military uniform.

    Separated to the ONE periodical, program, and pamphlet collections

    Daughter of Bilitis, San Francisco chapter newsletter (Feburary 1964, March 1964)
    Demophil newsletter (1963, Feburary 1964, March 1964)
    Don Slater, 1923-1997, memorial program. Homosexual Information Center.
    Dorian Newsletter (November-December 1964)
    Gay Pride, special issue. Christopher Street West Gay Pride Week 1972 Special Edition (program).
    Hearth, v.1, no.3 (February 5, 1961)
    Janus, v.4, no.2 (February 1964)
    The National League for Social Understanding, v.4, no.1 (February 1964)
    The New York Mattachine Newsletter, v.9, no.2 (February 1964)
    The Prosperos Inner Space Center (pamphlet)
    Society for Social Equality, v.1, no.2 (October 31, 1963)
    The Society for the Scientific Study of Sex newsletter, no.30 (March 1964)
    Town Talk, no.7 (December 1964)
    Vriendschap, (February 19, 1964)

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Gay activists
    Gay erotic films
    Gay erotic photography
    Gay erotic videos
    Gay erotica -- Censorship -- United States
    Gays -- California -- History
    Gay liberation movement
    Pornography -- Gay men
    Gays' writings, American
    World War II
    Pornography -- Censorship -- United States
    Mattachine Society
    Pan-Graphic Press Book Service
    Call, Hal (Harold Leland)
    Call, Hal (Harold Leland)
    Dorian Press Book Service