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Max Ewing collection

 Collection
Call Number: YCAL MSS 656

Scope and Contents

The Max Ewing Papers consist of correspondence, writings, sheet music, photographic prints and negatives, photograph albums, scrapbooks, diaries, sound recordings, writings of others, notebooks, printed material, personal papers, and a sculpture. Correspondence includes letters from Ewing to his parents, general correspondence with friends and family, and third party correspondence regarding Ewing. Writings contain autograph manuscript and typescript drafts and printed versions of short stories, poems, essays, and other writings, including typescript drafts, corrected, of Ewing's novel, Going Somewhere. Sheet music contains printed and manuscript music by Ewing. Photographs in the collection are from Ewing's "Gallery of Extraordinary Portraits," "Carnival of Venice," Les amants de Venice," and subjects include Ewing's family and friends. The scrapbooks were made and kept by Ewing and contain reproductions of photographs of notable artists and celebrities; articles by or on Ewing, concerning his professional life as a music editor, musician, photographer, and writer; and reviews of Going Somewhere. Sound recordings are two aluminum instantaneous phonodiscs, "Speak-O-Phone personal phonographs," made by Max Ewing with Berenice Abbott and Doris Ewing. Other papers include Ewing's parents' marriage certificate, diaries, notebooks, legal documents, lists of books read by Ewing, printed material, writings on Ewing by others, and an unidentified head sculpted in clay.

All material was a gift of Doris Ewing, 1943, unless otherwise noted.

Dates

  • 1887 - 2003
  • Majority of material found within 1910 - 1934

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 34 (nitrate photographic negatives): Restricted fragile material. Some corresponding prints are available in Box 20. Consult Access Services for further information.

Box 35 (sound recordings): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Box 36 (clay bust): Restricted fragile material. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Max Ewing Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Doris Ewing (Max Ewing's cousin), Lawrence H. and Roberta Conrad, Alice de la Mar, Mark Lutz, and Carl Van Vechten, 1943. Gift of Doris Ewing and Mildred Henry, 1944. Gift of William John McAfee III, 1950. Gift of Wallace K. Ewing, 1998 and 2003.

Arrangement

Organized into six series: I. Correspondence, 1887-1946. II. Writings, 1927-1933. III. Gallery of Extraordinary Portraits, 1928. IV. Photographs, 1887-1924. V. Scrapbooks, 1922-1923. VI. Other Papers, 1901-2003.

Associated Materials

Printed material received with the collection was removed for separate cataloging and can be accessed by searching Orbis (Yale's Online Catalog).

Carl Van Vechten Papers (Za Van Vechten). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Extent

11.45 Linear Feet (36 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.ewingm

Overview

The Max Ewing Papers consist of correspondence, writings, sheet music, photographic prints and negatives, photograph albums, scrapbooks, diaries, sound recordings, writings of others, notebooks, printed material, personal papers, and a sculpture. Correspondence includes letters from Ewing to his parents, general correspondence with friends and family, and third party correspondence regarding Ewing. Writings contain autograph manuscript and typescript drafts and printed versions of short stories, poems, essays, and other writings, including typescript drafts, corrected, of Ewing's novel, Going Somewhere. Sheet music contains printed and manuscript music by Ewing. Photographs in the collection are from Ewing's "Gallery of Extraordinary Portraits," "Carnival of Venice," Les amants de Venice" and subjects include Ewing's family and friends. The scrapbooks were made and kept by Ewing and contain reproductions of photographs of notable artists and celebrities; articles by or on Ewing, concerning his professional life as a music editor, musician, photographer, and writer; and reviews of Going Somewhere. Sound recordings are two aluminum instantaneous phonodiscs, "Speak-O-Phone personal phonographs," made by Max Ewing with Berenice Abbott and Doris Ewing. Other papers include Ewing's parents' marriage certificate, diaries, notebooks, legal documents, lists of books read by Ewing, printed material, writings on Ewing by others, and an unidentified head sculpted in clay.

Max Ewing (1903-1934)

Max Ewing, American photographer, novelist, composer, pianist, and sculptor. Ewing was born in Pioneer, Ohio on April 7, 1903 to John Caleb and Clara Barto Ewing, to whom he remained close throughout his life. He started playing piano at an early age. He attended the University of Michigan, where he also served as the music critic for the Ann Arbor Time-News before becoming music editor of the Sunday Magazine, a controversial publication associated with the University of Michigan Daily. Ewing moved to New York City in 1924, where he studied piano under Alexander Siloti for three years before moving to Paris to study with Marcelle Meyer. He enjoyed a successful career as a professional pianist until 1927, when he turned his attention to composition of light musical theater, writing fiction, creating sculptures, and especially photography. He published his only novel, Going Somewhere (Alfred Knopf) in 1933. It received positive reviews but did not gain him a reputation as a successful novelist.

Ewing is best known for his photography, especially the photograph collection "Carnival in Venice" and his 1928 exhibition "Gallery of Extraordinary Portraits." "Carnival of Venice" is a series of photographs of friends posed individually and together against a backdrop depicting a scene from Venice, Italy. Individuals include Muriel Draper, e.e. cummings, Paul Robeson, Berenice Abbott, George Platt Lynes, Lloyd Wescott, Dorothy Crawford, Paul Meeres, Max Ewing, Lincoln Kirstein, and Dorothy Sheldon. The collection received praise from his friends and was shown at the Waldorf-Astoria. For his "Gallery of Extraordinary Portraits," Ewing converted the walk-in closet of his Manhattan studio apartment into a semi-public portrait gallery. He covered the walls with original photographs and reproductions of images of friends and celebrities, representing New York's interracial, gay and lesbian, and artistic circles. This exhibition gained him attention and was re-installed in other New York galleries.

Ewing's nearest friends included Carl Van Vechten, who introduced him to many of the people that appear in Ewing's photographs, Muriel Draper, and the boxer Jack Pollock. He suffered from depression throughout his life and required attention from those that were closest to him. He maintained a consistent correspondence with his parents from a young age until their deaths, writing to them weekly. His father died in 1932 and his mother in 1934. Ewing spent the last few months of his life in Pioneer, Ohio before he committed suicide on June 18, 1934, by drowning himself in the Susquehanna River in Binghamton, New York.

Processing Information

The Max Ewing Collection contains all of the Max Ewing material that was formerly known as Za Ewing, Za Van Vechten, Uncat ZA MS 545, Za Ew+55 1-4, and Za Ew55 +1.

One box of writings and correspondence, labeled "Max Ewing Manuscripts" was removed from the Carl Van Vechten Papers (Za Van Vechten) and the material is now part of the Max Ewing Papers. This material was part of Van Vechten's 1944 gift of Ewing material. Some material from this acquisition might remain in the Carl Van Vechten Papers and be discovered when further processing of the Van Vechten papers occurs.

The following material was not found during processing in 2013:

Gift of Carl Van Vechten, 1944 (likely to be found in the Carl Van Vechten Papers): "Catalogue of photographs owned by Max Ewing," typescript draft; "Decadency In a Scristan," autograph manuscript; "Elysium in Hell," autograph manuscript; "Grimalkin In an Aperture," autograph manuscript; "James Caleb Ewing," typescript draft; "The Kalsinjammers," autograph manuscript; "Me an' Puppo," autograph manuscript; "Midwinter," autograph manuscript; "Queen in Nictitation," typescript draft; "Shakespeare: Dialogue for a play containing various Shakespearian characters," autograph manuscript; "Toodles and Old Puppo's Fight," autograph manuscript; "Topaz in a Trance," typescript draft; "Unicorn in Grammercy Park," typescript draft; "Vaudeville in the High Place," typescript draft; "Wanderings in a Phantasy," typescript draft; "Where Nature Charms," [by Theo Ferris?] autograph manuscript; "With Erato," autograph manuscript; "Xanadunian in Bas Relief," typescript draft; "The Agamnon of Aeschylus," by Marion Wier annotated by Max Ewing.

Gift of Mildred Henry: a poem about Carl Van Vechten and seven pencil drawings by Max Ewing.
Title
Guide to the Max Ewing Collection
Author
by Molly Wheeler
Date
2007-05-16
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2010-02-10: Transformed with yale.addEadidUrl.xsl. Adds @url with handle for finding aid. Overwrites @url if already present.

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977