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NOTE: This collection is currently being processed and conserved. All items may not be available; see also Photograph Inventory below. For questions regarding availability of particular items, please call (601) 266-4348.

Overview of Collection

Repository:  McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi

Creator:  Waller, Robert C.

Collection Number:  M195

Title:  Waller (Robert C.) Photograph Collection

Dates:  1947-1977

Abstract:  Robert C. Waller of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was a professional photographer who operated a studio out of his home from the mid 1940s until his death in 1977.  The collection contains photographic negatives from Waller’s studio, including portraits, wedding photographs, aerial photographs, and commercial photographs from local businesses, schools, churches, organizations, and events.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert C. Waller was born in Hattiesburg in 1910. He attended college at both Tulane University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Waller became interested in photography while doing public relations work for the University of Southern Mississippi in the late 1930s. He did photography for the Mississippi State Game and Fish Commission from 1940 until he joined the Army in 1942. While in the military, Waller further developed his photography skills working in public relations at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

Following he left the Army in 1945, Waller returned to Hattiesburg and worked as a photographer and reporter for the Hattiesburg American. He built a darkroom in his home and took a photography correspondence course. In 1949, Waller left the newspaper to open his own photography studio, Bob Waller’s Photo Service, which he ran out of his home until his death in 1977.  Waller took a break from photography when he served as sheriff of Forrest County from 1960 until 1964. During those years, his studio was operated by Mr. Barger.

Waller did a lot of portrait work, and he did photography for numerous weddings.  In addition to this work, Waller also took aerial photographs in the Hattiesburg area, in some instances taking pictures out of a Cessna airplane. He also did commercial photography for local businesses, schools, organizations, and events. In addition, he took pictures of automobile wrecks and he did photography for the Hattiesburg Krewe of Zeus balls.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains the photography work created by Robert Waller during the operation of his studio, Bob Waller’s Photo Service. The materials date primarily from 1947-1977 and document life and culture in southern Mississippi, particularly Hattiesburg.

Waller’s collection is comprised primarily of 4x5 black and white cut sheet negatives, but the collection also includes 2¼ x 2¼, 3x5, and 5x7 black and white cut sheet negatives, 35mm black and white strip negatives, 2¼ x 2¼ color negatives, and slides.  The collection does contain some prints, most of which are proofs.

The collection is arranged according to Waller’s original filing order, which includes the following groupings: commercial photographs, portraits, weddings, aerials, copies, color photos, Krewe of Zeus, wrecks, 35mm negatives, 5x7 negatives, and slides.  Folders retain Waller’s original titles.

Series one includes the commercial photographs, which are divided into subseries according to date: 1947-1956; August 1956-1959, and 1960-1977.  They document numerous aspects of life and culture in Hattiesburg from the 1940s through the 1970s, with topics including, but not limited to local businesses, schools, churches, civic organizations, social organizations, local government, events, and families.   

The subseries 1947-1956 consists of 4x5 black and white cut sheet negatives and contains few proofs. Negatives in this subseries are arranged alphabetically, and contain an index number assigned by Waller.  Negatives numbered 1-148, which includes all of the letters A and B, as well as some of the letter C,  were lost before the collection was donated.

Series two includes portraits dating from approximately 1951 to 1977. 

Note: The portrait series is currently closed pending processing.

Additional series include:

  • Weddings dating from approximately 1947 to 1976.
  • Aerials dating from 1963 to 1977.
  • Color negatives dating from 1960-1977.  These are primarily commercial photographs, but also include some weddings and portraits.
  • Krewe of Zeus balls dating from 1948 to 1977.
  • Copy negatives dating from 1964 and 1971 that Waller took of photographs for customers.
  • Car wrecks dating from 1954 to 1956.
  • 5” x 7” negatives that include commercial photographs, portraits, and weddings.
  • 35mm negatives dating from 1953 to 1970 that include commercial photographs and weddings.
  • Slides dating from the 1940s to the 1970s.
  • Miscellaneous negatives dating from 1956 to 1959.

The Scope and Content Note and Container Listing for the Waller Photographs will be updated as the collection is processed.

Select items from the Commercial Photographs Series have been digitized and are available in the University of Southern Mississippi Digital Collections.

Topics Covered

Waller, Robert C., 1910-1977.

Hattiesburg (Miss.)

Mississippi--Social life and customs--20th century.



Portrait photography.

Aerial photography.

Administrative Information

Provenance:   Donated by Mrs. Robert C. Waller in July 1983.

Restrictions on Use:  This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Preferred Citation Method:  Item, Title of collection, McCain Library & Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.


These 12,965 negatives are currently available for requesting digitial copies; this inventory is periodically updated/supplemented as a result of ongoing conservation:

Photo Log: M195 Waller (Robert) - Negatives Conserved - Completed Inventory (Boxes 50 - 69)

Photo Log: M195 Waller (Robert) - Negatives Conserved - Completed Inventory (Boxes 70 - 74)

Photo Log: M195 Waller (Robert) - Negatives Conserved - Completed Inventory (Boxes 75 - 79)


Over 1,700 negatives have also been digitized for public viewing at: (this digital collection will continue to grow).

Prepared and maintained by
The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections
118 College Drive #5148   Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148