Guide to the J. Claude Evans Family Papers, 1930-2002
J. Claude Evans was a United Methodist minister who served in South Carolina, Texas, and North Carolina along with his wife, Maxilla. He edited the South Carolina Methodist Advocate from 1952 to 1957, and was chaplain at Southern Methodist University in Dallas from 1957 until his retirement from the ministry in 1982. The majority of the family's papers relate to the pastoral and counseling career of J. Claude Evans, and include drafts and copies of his sermons, articles, columns, and other writings from the 1940s through the early 2000s on wide-ranging topics such as Christianity, spirituality, abortion, race, sexuality, sexism, nature, equality, aging, and violence. The papers also include some personal materials, correspondence, genealogy, notes and printed materials from his many professional activities, and Evans' subject files. There is a small amount of material created and collected by Maxilla, J. Claude's wife, largely relating to her bird watching and breeding of songbirds in Texas and North Carolina.
- Collection Number
- J. Claude Evans family papers
- 30 Linear Feet
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
This collection has been arranged into nine series, most of which reflect the life and work of J. Claude Evans. One series, the Maxilla Evans Materials series, relates exclusively to Maxilla Evans' interests in birding, bird breeding, and horticulture, and also includes some of her writings, correspondence, family history, and other collected materials.
One of the largest series relating to J. Claude Evans is the Sermons series, with sermons arranged alphabetically by title. Files in this series reflect Evans' own arrangement of his papers, which typically include sermon copies with annotations punctuating his delivery and emphasis, notes and research about the subject, lists of when the sermon was preached and at which church, and occasionally bulletins from various services. Sermon topics varied widely, with many fairly liberal sermons on controversial issues like women's rights, abortion, racism, drugs, communism, atheism, and homosexuality.
Another large component of the collection is the Subject Files series, collected by Evans to support his research and writings both as a pastor and a columnist. This series includes many clippings, notes, and other materials curated by Evans, and is also arranged alphabetically by subject.
Evans' Correspondence is arranged into alphabetical and thematic sub-series. Most of the correspondence is sorted alphabetically by correspondent, unless Evans purposefully collected and grouped a batch of letters together under another heading; usually these are letters he received in reaction to an article or sermon on controversial issues like race, abortion, and so on. Evans also segregated letters between him and Maxilla during World War II and his other travels. These headings are listed beneath the alphabetical correspondence files.
Evans' Personal Files relate to largely non-pastoral or counseling topics, including his childhood, marriage and family, military life, family history and photographs, and scrapbooks. The Pastoral Activities series includes Evans' materials from various churches and community organizations such as the Intentional Growth Center, as well as counseling and theology professional memberships. This series also includes a small amount of audiocassettes recording Evans' devotionals, seminar workshops, and other speaking engagements. Finally, the Courses and Notes series contains most of Evans' handwritten notes from the many seminars, workshops, and classes he both took and taught during his long career as a pastor and counselor.
Evans' prolific Writings began while he was a student in the 1930s and continued until he retired from writing columns for the Waynesville Mountaineer in 2000. The series is arranged into Published Articles, Drafts, and Prayers. Within the Drafts are Evans' multiple working copies of his Mountaineer columns, arranged alphabetically by title. (Copies of the published versions are filed chronologically under Published Articles.) Additional reactions to Evans' writings can also be found in the Correspondence series. The Prayers are unsorted, except for a batch of prayer cards organized by subject, kept by Evans during his chaplaincy at SMU.
The Printed Materials series contains texts both written, edited, and collected by Evans, including college yearbooks, bound copies of the Methodist Advocate dating from his tenure as editor, and other books that reference Evans and his work as an abortion counselor.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], J. Claude Evans Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
This series contains sermons written and preached by J. Claude Evans throughout his career. The materials include handwritten and typed drafts, notes, and some reference materials such as magazine or newspaper clippings. Many of the sermons were revised and reused throughout the decades, and Evans's own lists of the places and dates he preached particular sermons are often included with the text.
Evans's sermons address a broad range of subjects. Most of them address contemporary socio-political topics, issues of faith and Christianity, or, frequently, both. Examples of sermons that address the Christian faith directly include seasonal, sacramental, or celebratory topics such as "Advent Joy," "What Can I Believe about Baptism?" or a variety of sermons for weddings. Also included are sermons about belief and the place of religion in modern life, such as "Liturgy and Life" and "Science and Religion: A Needless Argument."
More numerous are the sermons which address contemporary socio-political issues and current events. These sermons address abortion (as in "The Problem of Unwanted Pregnancies"), race ("Racism: A Contemporary Wilderness"), women ("Are Women Really Persons?"), homosexuality ("My Sister Was a Lesbian"), communism and politics (as in "Marxist Communism and the Christian Faith"), marriage and family ("My Son Was a Runaway" and "Enduring Marriage: An Impossible Possibility") and, later, dementia and illness.
The sermons are filed alphabetically by title.
The Subjects series includes an assortment of newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, and other clippings, including materials from numerous religious periodicals such as the Methodist Advocate. Evans collected much of this material while researching subjects for his sermons and columns. The subjects reflect current events, especially of the 1960s and 70s, as well as theological issues.
Subjects contained within the series can for the most part be grouped under three categories; current events, counseling, and faith or religion. A sample of subject files from the current events group include information on the Berkeley riots, capital punishment, the draft, energy, homosexuality, J.F.Kennedy's assassination, modern medicine and health care, and playboys and playmates, among many others. There are additional materials related to the abortion issue that Evans collected in an album, which is included in the Personal series.
Subjects pertaining to counseling include files on anxiety, apathy, death and hope, depression, grief, hypnotism, and suicide. Subjects regarding faith include documents on the bible, Catholicism, church and state, evangelism, vocation, and files on other pastors such as Billy Graham, among others. There are also a number of files labeled "Column Ideas" which include materials that Evans had specifically put aside as sources for his writing.
The Subject series is filed alphabetically by subject.
The Correspondence series contains letters, greeting cards, postcards, notes, and telegrams sent to and by J. Claude Evans throughout his lifetime. These letters include personal correspondence such as Christmas cards, correspondence with Evans's wife, Maxilla, and other family members, and a number of letters exchanged while Evans was stationed at various locations while serving in the navy and during later trips to Central and Eastern Europe. For additional personal letters to Evans's family, please see the scrapbooks and albums in the Personal series.
The majority of the letters concern professional matters, such as Evans's sermons, appointments at Clemson, SMU, and the Mountaineer, correspondence regarding Evans's counseling practice, and exchanges with colleagues at various institutions. Some letters were written to Evans in response to controversial subjects as abortion or race which he addressed in his sermons and columns.
The Correspondence series is filed alphabetically by the correspondent's last name with the exception of certain file folders which contain correspondence grouped based on topic, which are included at the end of the list below.
The Personal series includes documents from J. Claude Evans's youth, military and pastoral careers, and family life. These materials are Evans's passports, official navy orders and records, information on his education, a childhood diary, awards and certificates, court records, and articles about Evans, among other documents. The series contains photographs from J. Claude's youth and years at Duke as well as later, professional photos. A large scrapbook contains wartime letters and postcards from J. Claude to Maxilla while he was stationed abroad and an extensive scrapbook Evans created with articles and other notes regarding the abortion debate. The Personal series also includes a leather-bound bible that is inscribed by Evans in 1944 and has a note that it belonged to a T. Ligau c. 1896.
There are also a number of files pertaining to the Evans family's genealogy, including extensive research into both J. Claude and Maxilla Evans's family history. This includes a large photo album from the early twentieth century.
The Writings series includes three subseries: Published Articles and Columns -primarily J. Claude Evans's writings for The Mountaineer, Drafts, and Prayers. These materials include Evans's writings throughout his career for various pastoral and professional purposes.
The Published Articles and Columns subseries is filed alphabetically by the name of the newspaper or periodical in which Evans's writing was published. The Drafts subseries is filed alphabetically by title, with drafts for columns listed under "C" and then listed alphabetically by title within the folder.
Arranged alphabetically by column title. Some folders include many versions of the same column, each with different edits or notes by Evans.
The Printed Materials Series includes a range of materials saved and collected by J. Claude Evans. It contains assorted clippings, publications, and articles on theology, women's issues, and LGBT. The series also includes bound copies of the South Carolina Methodist Advocate dating from his time as editor (1952-1957), and bound bulletins from Southern Methodist University dating from his time as chaplain (1959-1979). Other materials include Evans' yearbooks and those from his sister, Eugenia (Gene), from the 1930s and early 1940s. This series also includes books, written by others, which mention Evans and his pastoral and counseling work.
The Pastoral Activities series includes materials from J. Claude Evans' professional work as a pastor and counselor to communities throughout the South. Some materials relate to his professional affiliations and memberships; others to his counseling work in Dallas and Waynesville; and others to specific churches where he ministered or preached.
Also includes a box of 30 cassette tapes of Evans speaking and preaching. These tapes are closed to researchers until use copies can be made.
Devotionals, seminar and conference presentations, and other tapes (include one with a debate on abortion). AV Identification numbers: RL0008-CS-0001 through 0026 and RL0008-MCS-0001 through 0004. Original audiovisual materials are CLOSED to researchers until use copies are made. Contact Research Services in advance.
Maxilla Evans' papers largely center on her bird watching, horticulture, and other nature conservation activities in Texas and North Carolina. There are also drafts of her writings, family correspondence, and research materials on Christianity, feminism, and Quakerism. She also collected genealogy and family history materials.
J. Claude Evans taught and attended many seminars, classes, and workshops in the course of his career as a pastor and counselor. This series includes syllabi, handwritten lecture notes, doodles, pamphlets, and reading materials from an assortment of these events, which have been loosely sorted into Courses Taken, Courses Taught, and General Notes. Many of the courses related to hypnotism, marriage counseling, and spiritual guidance. Courses have been arranged alphabetically by title and date from the 1960s through the 1990s. Many of the notes are on legal-size yellow notebook pages.
Service of Worship, University Chapel - Southern Meth. Univ., August 26, 1979; Preacher: Chaplain J. Claude Evans; Presiding - Dr. H. Grady Hardin; Soloist - Dr. Lloyd Pfautsch; Scripture: Dr. James Zumberge, President, S.M.U.; Remarks at End: Dr. Zumberge; Organist: Dr. Robert T. Anderson, 1979 August 26
Includes day books, account books, memo books, and rental books.
Includes day books, account books, memo books, and rental books.
Includes day books, account books, memo books, and rental books.
J. Claude Evans was born in Anderson, SC, in 1917. He graduated from Wofford College and Duke Divinity School (1940) and became an ordained member of the South Carolina Methodist Conference. He served pastorates in Columbia, Clemson, and Walhalla, was a Navy chaplain in 1944-45, edited the S.C. Methodist Advocate from 1952-57 (for which he wrote many editorials on issues like race and McCarthyism), and served as the university chaplain at SMU from 1957-82. In retirement he wrote regular columns for the Waynesville, N.C., Mountaineer, primarily on social justice issues. He also had a substantial practice in family counseling.
His papers consist of large numbers of sermons, articles (he wrote regularly for the Christian Century in the 1960s and 1970s), and columns as well as some correspondence. He began speaking out on racial justice in 1942 with a sermon attacking the biological idea of race that got him barred from the pulpit of Washington Street Methodist Church in Columbia. In the early 1970s, before Roe v. Wade, he was active in the Clergy Consultation on Abortion, an abortion referral network, and he wrote a number of sermons and columns on gay rights, drawing on the experience of having a lesbian sister.
Maxilla Evans was born in 1917 in Palmyra, North Carolina. She first attended the N.C. Women's College in Greensboro, but graduated from N.C. State University in 1940 with a degree in landscape architecture. She and J. Claude Evans married that year and had four children. Maxilla was an active birder and gardener, and raised prize-winning canaries along with collecting rare and unique Appalachian plants. She help found and create the Corneille Bryan Native Garden at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. The couple later relocated to Asheville. J. Claude Evans died on September 7, 2007. Maxilla Evans died on December 25, 2007.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Evans family
- Evans, Maxilla
- Evans, Joseph Claude
- Southern Methodist University
- United Methodist Church (U.S.)
- Abortion counseling
- Abortion -- Religious aspects
- Bird watching -- North Carolina
- Bird watching -- Texas
- Gay rights -- United States
- Methodist Church -- Southern States -- Clergy
- Pastoral counseling
- Racism -- United States
- Race -- Religious aspects -- Methodist Church
The J. Claude Evans Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2006.
Processed by Elisabeth Narkin, Meghan Lyon, Jessica Rodriguez, Nicole Rudden, December 2012
Encoded by Elisabeth Narkin, December 2012; Meghan Lyon, January 2013
Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2006-0074
Materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.