Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

Merle Evans Papers

 Collection 0055-SCPA
Merle Evans (1891-1987) was an American bandmaster and cornetist. He is best known for his work leading the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus Band. He was also the bandmaster for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. The collection consists of both personal and professional papers including correspondence, photographs, band scores, and band uniforms related to Evans's work as a bandmaster and as a cornetist.

Dates

  • 1880-1989
  • Majority of material found within 1950-1985

Use and Access to Collection

There are no restricted files in this collection.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact

Extent

39.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Merle Evans Papers covers the period from 1800 to 1989; the bulk of the materials date from 1950 to 1985. The collection consists of both personal and professional papers including correspondence, photographs, band scores, and band uniforms related to Evans's work as a bandmaster and as a cornetist.

Biography

Born in Columbus, Kansas in 1891, Merle Evans joined the S.W. Brundage Carnival Band as a cornetist at the age of fifteen. For the next ten years, he traveled throughout the United States with a number of theater and comedy shows, eventually becoming bandmaster with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In 1919, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circuses merged to form what they promoted as "The Greatest Show on Earth." Evans was selected as bandmaster for the newly combined circus, a post he held until his retirement in 1969. In addition to leading circus bands, Evans wrote eight circus marches and conducted several concert bands during the off season. Active throughout his retirement as a circus historian, Evans died in Sarasota, Florida in 1987.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into thirteen series.
  1. Series 1: Correspondence
  2. Series 2: Newspaper and Magazine Articles
  3. Series 3: Photographs
  4. Series 4: Programs
  5. Series 5: Awards and Certificates
  6. Series 6: Band Music
  7. Series 7: Circus Publications
  8. Series 8: Business Papers
  9. Series 9: Clothing
  10. Series 10: Posters
  11. Series 11: Books and Papers
  12. Series 12: Memorabilia
  13. Series 13: Recordings

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Merle Evans Papers were donated to the ABA Research Center by Evans's sister, Juanita Evans, in February 1989. A second portion of the collection was given by Juanita Evans through Kenneth Slater on June 8, 1992. Additions to the collection were made by Shirley Ryon in June 1989.

Related Material

The Merle Evans Papers are part of the American Bandmasters Association Research Center.

Related materials held by Special Collections in Performing Arts:

  1. Plowden, Gene. Merle Evans: Maestro of the Circus (Miami, FL: E.A. Seeman Publishing, 1971). Call number: ML422.E93 P6.
  2. Lynn L. Sams Papers, 1896-1990, part of the American Bandmasters Association Research Center.
  3. Kenneth Slater Papers, 1859-1997, part of the American Bandmasters Association Research Center.
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Title
Merle Evans Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Bradley Mariska (2003); reprocessed by Amanda Weeks (2011)
Date
2011-12-01
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States