William Evens was born on November 29, 1783 in Sussex, England probably near the Battle Abbey as a handwritten note claims in one of his scrapbooks (Vol. 3 Binder 3, page 3). Traveling by boat in 1804, Evens arrived in Nova Scotia and proceeded to live in several different cities in the United States and Canada throughout his life including Boston, Detroit, Montreal, Kingston, Philadelphia, and finally, to Pittsburgh in 1811. During his travels he met and married Rhonda Loring and had several children. Although primarily a plane maker by trade, Evens also taught singing for 40 years and helped to organize Pittsburgh’s first Musical Society. He was also the first in Pittsburgh to collect a library of books on musical theory, biography, and history however in 1832 and again in 1851, he sold volumes from his library probably because of a need for funds.
In 1811, Evens began to construct a series of scrapbooks with newspaper and journal articles, prints, and music. These books are one of the only sources of information available on the development of music in Pittsburgh during the first half of the nineteenth century. Included in these scrapbooks are advertisements for his own singing school, located in his home. Evens also included a handwritten inventory of his music library with book prices and auction lists. The scrapbooks represent a remarkable cross section of Evens’ interests from opera singers and music theory to historical military anecdotes and shipwreck stories.
Evens died of cholera on August 1, 1854 and, although we know little of his death or burial, he did include a family history and short memoir of his travels within the scrapbooks (Vol. 2 Binder 1 page 44-46). Four of these volumes came to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh through Charles C. Mellor, who was also active in music in Pittsburgh. The other two volumes came into the possession of the Darlington family who donated them to the University of Pittsburgh along with their library collection. In 2008, these two scrapbooks were transferred to the Carnegie Library to preserve the integrity of the collection.
Overview of the Collection
Reference Code: Pittsburgh Music Archive #33
Creator: William Evens (1783-1854)
Extent: 6 scrapbooks organized into 15 Binders, 1 folder
Repository: Music Department, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Main Branch, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Acquisition Information: 4 scrapbooks (Volumes 1-4) were donated to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh by Mr. Charles C. Mellor. 2 scrapbooks (Volumes 5-6) were donated to the University of Pittsburgh Libraries by the Darlington family then transferred to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in 2008. Xerox copy and transcription of letter to John R. Parker courtesy of Donald Krummel, 1985.
Requested Citation: William Evens’ Scrapbook Collection, Pittsburgh Music Archive #33, Music Department, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Finding Aid Created by: Katherine Benedix
Related Collections: Charles C. Mellor Collection
Notes on the Collection
Scope and Content
The Collection consists of 6 scrapbooks with materials spanning the years 1791-1860. Each scrapbook contains materials that are exclusive to that individual scrapbook. These materials include newspaper articles, journal articles, flyers, prints, and music, which cover such subjects as opera singers, concert announcements and programs, music theory, humorous and historical anecdotes, music advertisements, innovations in travel, zoo animals, and Pittsburgh and Boston musical societies. Some of the materials are handwritten but the majority is printed.
The 4 scrapbooks originally donated by C.C. Mellor (Vol. 1-4) are particularly strong in materials relating to all aspects of music from theory to performance. They contain many newspaper clippings about opera singer Jenny Lind and musical anecdotes (short stories) as well as journals and music books such as “The Musical Reporter” and “The Musical Library.” The 2 scrapbooks transferred by the University of Pittsburgh (Vol. 5-6) contain historical and military newspaper anecdotes, newspaper articles on shipwrecks, slavery, women, marriage and travel, prints and engravings, as well as some printed sheet music.
Included with this collection is a folder containing a photocopy of a letter by Evens to John R. Parker.
Each scrapbook was dis-bound with each individual page placed in a polyester sleeve in binders related to the size of the pages. Many of the newspaper clippings had been originally glued to music and journal article pages by Evens but, if possible, were removed and placed in the binder according to original order. Some newspaper stories were split up throughout each scrapbook but were reunited with the rest of each story if feasible. Each binder page was given a number that corresponds to the description of contents in the Container List. The two scrapbooks from the University of Pittsburgh lacked volume numbers and were numbered Volumes 5 and 6 to maintain organization.
The Collection was not separated into series but was placed in binders according to their Volume number.
Subject List: (in alphabetical order)
- mp – multiple pages, indicates glued pages that could not be separated
- npa – newspaper articles, primarily clippings
- ads – advertisements
- cont. – continued, indicates when the article, music, or story is a continuation from a previous entry
- hw – handwritten, indicates when the information was handwritten; when followed by “dates” the handwritten information contains birth and death years; when followed by “reference” the handwritten information contains a reference to a different Evens volume or a music book.
Evens Volume 1
Evens Volume 2
Evens Volume 3
Evens Volume 4
Evens Volume 5
Evens Volume 6
Volume 7 – Letter by William Evens to John R. Parker
- Dated: Pittsburgh, Jany 16, 1819.
- Letter to John R. Parker, No. 6 Milk St., Boston, Mass.
- Holograph (photocopy).
- Includes transcription by Donald Krummel and brief biography of Evens.
- Parker, John R. (John Rowe), 1777-1844.