Newly processed collection of pianist Don Ewell highlights traditional New Orleans jazz
Tulane University Special Collections (TUSC) has completed the processing of the Don Ewell collection, both improving its research discoverability and ensuring long-term preservation. The collection contains materials both related to and amassed by pianist Don Ewell, including correspondence, photographs, clippings, audiovisual media, sheet music, posters, books, and ephemera ranging 1894 – 2004, with the bulk pertaining to the 1950s through the 1970s. The subject matter of the materials also includes noteworthy New Orleans-associated musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Bunk Johnson, Nick LaRocca, Lizzie Miles, Jelly Roll Morton, and Edward "Kid" Ory. Of particular interest are an inscribed copy of The Jazz Legacy of Don Ewell, and a sketch of Ewell drawn by painter Noel Rockmore inside the book, Preservation Hall Portraits.
The Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, a unit of Tulane University Special Collections, acquired the Don Ewell collection in 2008. Processing the collection involved adding or revising collection inventories, describing the collection’s contents, and housing the materials in new preservation-quality boxes, folders, and sleeves.
Don Ewell was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1916. The World War II veteran became active as a traveling jazz pianist, settling in Chicago, St. Louis, California, Florida, Toronto, and New Orleans; and playing with early jazz pioneers such as Sidney Bechet, George Lewis, and Willie "The Lion" Smith. He was a member of trombonist Jack Teagarden's band from 1957 until Teagarden's death in 1964. Ewell passed away in 1983, at the age of 66, while living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Don Ewell collection totals 2.5 linear feet of audiovisual materials, with an additional 9.47 linear feet of other materials housed in boxes or flat files. The collection (HJA-005) is open for public research, and can be accessed via appointment at Tulane University Special Collections, located in Jones Hall on the uptown campus of Tulane University. For more information, contact Hogan Archive curator Melissa A. Weber at email@example.com or 504-247-1807. To learn more about Tulane University Special Collections, visit the TUSC website at library.tulane.edu/tusc, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Published January 24, 2023
Photo caption: Don Ewell, seated at piano, plays with trumpeter Bunk Johnson and his band, unidentified date and location, photographer: Ward Silver; Don Ewell collection, HJA-005, Tulane University Special Collections, New Orleans, LA.