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May Garrettson Evans scrapbooks

Identifier: PIMS-0060

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  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The May Garrettson Evans scrapbooks (1896-1985) contain two scrapbooks and photographs created or collected by the Evans family. Both scrapbooks outline the Evans family history, including May Garrettson Evans's work as founder and superintendent of the Peabody Preparatory Department, using newspaper clippings, letters, and photographs. The scrapbook in box 1 traces the genealogy of the Evans family back nine generations to the 17th century, when their ancestors first arrived in the colony of Maryland. The scrapbook in box 2 contains materials about May Garrettson Evans and her career as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and the founder and director of the Peabody Preparatory. It also contains a letter from German conductor Hans von Bülow to Evans in 1890.

Box 3 contains photographs of May Garrettson Evans and her sisters Marion Evans and Bessie Evans, both of whom also worked at the Peabody Preparatory Department. Box 4 contains preservation copies of the scrapbooks and additional clippings, concert programs, and essays related to Evans and the history of the Peabody Preparatory.


  • Creation: 1896 - 1995
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1896-1947


Conditions Governing Access

Access to the original scrapbooks may be limited because of their fragile physical condition. Preservation copies and other materials deemed to be in acceptable condition are open for use at the Peabody Archives. Contact for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or perform materials in this collection must be submitted in writing to the archivist of the Arthur Friedheim Library.

Biographical / Historical

May Garrettson Evans (1866–1947) began her professional career covering news for the Baltimore Sun in 1888. Her brother Henry Ridgely Evans, a newspaperman himself, would often ask for her help with stories when he was pressed for time. As a student of the Peabody Conservatory, May would often be asked to cover concerts or musicals. She was officially brought on as a general reporter for The Sun in 1888 as a music and drama critic. She was considered the first woman reporter for The Sun, working for the Baltimore newspaper until 1895.

Looking for an interesting story to cover for the paper, Evans was drawn back to the Peabody Conservatory. She believed there was a need for a preparatory school as a means to prepare future students for the rigorous curriculum offered by the Conservatory. She interviewed the director and wrote the story, sparking serious interest in the project. Though the Conservatory director, Asger Hamerik, was interested in the idea, there were no steps taken to begin the project. Evans then took it upon herself, along with her sister Marion, to open the Peabody Graduates' Preparatory and High School of Music in 1894. Evans enlisted the help of fellow graduates of the Conservatory to teach the several hundred pupils who applied for admission that year. The school was officially incorporated into the Peabody Conservatory in 1898 as the Peabody Preparatory Department.

Evans served as superintendent of the Preparatory Department until 1930. She was passionate about bringing music to the people of Baltimore, inviting various communities to study at the Preparatory and participate in a community singing program. The Preparatory added a dance program in 1914.

Throughout her tenure at the Peabody Preparatory, Evans continued to write, acting as editor of the Peabody Bulletin. She was one of the founding members of the Edgar Allan Poe Society in 1924 and would go on to serve as president from 1935 to 1938. Her 1939 book Music and Edgar Allan Poe: a Bibliographical Study contains an annotated list of musical settings of Poe's works.

In 1928 May, Marion, and their sister Bessie Evans visited Navajo and Pueblo communities in New Mexico to study their dance and songs. Bessie and May wrote a book titled American Indian Dance Steps, published in 1931.

May Garrettson Evans is one eight children of Henry Cotheal Evans and Mary Elizabeth Garrettson. Their ancestry is traced back to the 17th century and includes Edward Dorsey, Nicholas Greenberry, Henry Ridgely, John Worthington, and John Hammond.


1.95 Cubic Feet (3 large flat boxes and 1 half-size letter box)

Language of Materials



May Garrettson Evans was a writer for The Baltimore Sun who founded the Peabody Preparatory Department in 1898 and served as its superintendent until 1930. Her collection includes personal scrapbooks and photographs of Evans and her family, including items from her time at the Peabody Preparatory Department.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Evans family in 1993.

Related Materials

A web exhibit on Evans created by the Arthur Friedheim Library is available at

Guide to the May Garrettson Evans scrapbooks
Kerri Sheehan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2019 December: Additional description about contents of scrapbooks.
  • 2024-03-08: Edited biographical note to remove aggrandizing language and add specificity. Added related materials note.

Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Archives Repository

Peabody Institute
1 E. Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore MD 21202 USA