Papers, 1880-2004  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Williams, Ava
Title
Papers
Dates
1880-2004 (inclusive)
Quantity
5 cubic feet, (11 document cases, 1 oversize box, 2 oversize folders)
Collection Number
Coll 225
Summary
Ava Williams (1912-2003) performed as a popular music singer and pianist on stages on both coasts of the United States from 1939 to the late 1990s. She grew up in Eastern Oregon and spent her final years in Portland. In the intervening years, she lived and worked in California, New York City, Provincetown (Mass.), Boston, and Philadelphia. Her personal collection spans from her childhood to her death, and includes papers, photographs, sound and audiovisual recordings, mostly pertaining to her musical career. The collection also includes family papers and photographs dating back to 1880.
Repository
Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
97205
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
libreference@ohs.org
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for processing this collection and encoding this finding aid was provided by the OHS Performing Arts fund.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Comedienne, songwriter, singer and pianist Ava Williams (aka Ava Lorraine) made her show business debut at the age of 19 in Sacramento, California, and soon moved on to Los Angeles and Hollywood. In 1939, Ms. Williams moved to New York City and began a thirty-year residence in East Coast cafes, nightclubs, hotels, and cocktail lounges. In 1962 she commenced an annual tour as the “Piano Lady” in Provincetown, Massachusetts, giving her final performance there in 1983.

Ava Williams was born on March 4, 1912 in Pendleton, Oregon, to parents Joseph A. and Laura Merritt Williams. Her brother Dick was born eighteen months later. The family moved to LaGrande in 1916, and eventually owned both a barber shop and an adjacent restaurant. Ava’s early exposure to music came through her father’s barbershop, the local church, and her mother’s restaurant, where local vaudeville acts dined. She began vocal training at the age of twelve. Ava attended high school in Enterprise, OR, where the family lived for one year, and graduated from LaGrande High School in 1931. Beneath her senior photo she reportedly wrote, “Life is short, enjoy it while you can.” She married Jorge (George) Carlozzi in 1941 in the Panama Canal Zone, but returned to New York without him after a few months. The marriage later ended in divorce.

Ava was a devoted daughter. She regularly returned to Portland during the summer months and performed there in order to spend more time with her parents. Her mother passed away in 1982. Ava gave up her apartment in New York City in 1984 and followed her forty-three boxes of music to Portland, where she lived until her own death June 4, 2003. A long life, thoroughly enjoyed.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The bulk of the collection pertains to Ava William's career as a musical performer from 1939 to the 1990s, and includes photographs, clippings, programs, and other ephemera relating to Ava Williams and fellow performers, as well as commercial sound recordings and audiovisual materials. The collection also includes family photos, papers, legal documents, memorabilia, and correspondence of family members Joseph A. and Laura Merritt Williams, Martin R. Williams, and J.C. Williams; World War I correspondence of Mort Merritt, and papers and memorabilia relating to Ava's childhood and her marriage to Jorge Carlozzi.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library prior to any use of reproductions. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use of reproductions may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright holders.

Preferred Citation

Ava Williams Papers, Coll 225, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series A:  Personal Papers, 1918-2004Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Autobiography
Undated
1/2
Correspondence
1934-2002; undated
1/3
Birthday cards
1955-2002; undated
1/4
Other greeting cards
1970-1990; undated
1/5
Certificates
1924; 1978-2000
1/6
Ephemera
1939-1986; undated
1/7
Guest books
1981; 1993
1/8
Notes
undated
1/9
Memo book
undated
1/10
World War II savings bond book
circa 1942
1/11
Divorce papers
1943-1944
1/12
re: Old age in Portland
2002-2003
1/13
Poems written for Ava
1951; 1976; undated
1/14
" Prayerful Moments" , Poetry by Ava Williams
circa 1999
1/15
Memorials & obituaries - Ava Williams
2003
1/16
Other obituaries
1985-2002
2/1
Contracts
1947-1976; 1994
2/2
Programs
1954; 1977
2/3
Publicity - Ava Williams
1942-2004; undated
2/4
Publicity - others
1961-1992; undated
2/5
Songs & song lists
1935-1974; undated
2/6
Clippings (folder 1)
approx. 1945-1992
2/7
Clippings (folder 2)
approx. 1945-1992
2/8
Clippings (folder 3)
approx. 1945-1992
2/9
Clippings - Oregon
1960-2003; undated
3/1
Lesson book
1918
3/2
Yearbook, ' Hi-Life' , Enterprise High School (Enterprise, Ore.)
1928
3/3
Memory book, ' Hi-Life' , Enterprise High School (Enterprise, Ore.)
1929 May
3/4
Yearbook, ' Hi-Life' , Enterprise High School (Enterprise, Ore.)
1930
3/5
School autograph book
circa 1931
3/6
LaGrande High School (LaGrande, Ore.)
  • Yearbook, ' The Mimir' , 1931
  • High school diploma
  • Pep Book
1927-1928; 1931
3/7
Class reunion programs, LaGrande High School (LaGrande, Ore.)
1961
3/8
Autograph books
1933-1938; 1941
3/9
Scrapbook
1934-1964; 1987
4/1
Scrapbook
undated
4/2
Daybook
circa 2002
4/3
Address books
undated
4/4
Address books
2002; undated
4/5
Who's Who in Show Business
1951-1952
5/1
Music & Dance in New York State
1951
5/2
Hildegarde, Over 50 - So What! (autographed copy)
1963
5/3
Gary Simmons, Madame My Misbegotten Memoirs (autographed copy)
1963
5/4
James Gavin, Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret (autographed copy)
1991

Series B:  Family Papers, 1909-1983Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
6/1
J.A. and Laura Williams - Correspondence
1911-1981; undated
6/2
J.A. and Laura Williams - Personal papers
1910-1982; undated
12/1
Marriage certificate - J.A. and Laura (Merritt) Williams
1910 August 2; undated
6/3
Joseph A.Williams - Business papers
1909-circa 1980
6/4
Williams Family - " Lorraine" trademark
1947
6/5
J.A. and Laura Williams - Political papers
1938-1950; undated
6/6
Martin Williams memorabilia
1932-1934; circa 1940; 1946
6/7
J.C. Williams
1927-1952
6/8
Williams Family - World War I correspondence & ephemera
1942-1945
6/9
Letters from Mort Merritt (World War I)
1918-1919
6/10
Legal papers re: Estate of Margaret M. Donahue
1923-1974
6/11
Other estate papers
1978-1983
6/12
Silhouettes
Probably Ava Williams and her parents, J.A. and Laura Williams
undated
Box 12
Guest book for Laura & Joe Williams
For the celebration of the 65th wedding anniversary of Laura & Joe Williams, and Joe Williams' 90th birthday.
1976 September 27-28

Series C:  Photographs, approx. 1880-2002Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
7/1
Family photo album
circa 1920
7/2
Family photos
circa 1900-1984
7/3
Ava's parents, Laura & Joe Williams
circa 1920-1976
7/4
J.C. Williams
approx. 1935-1941
7/5
Ava Williams
approx. 1934-1999
7/6
Marquees advertising Ava Williams's shows
approx. 1950-1980
7/7
Ava Williams and friends
approx. 1936-1999
7/8
Ava Williams with Judy Garland
circa 1965
7/9
Loose pages from photo albums
approx. 1940-1962
8/1
Negatives of publicity portraits of Ava Williams
35 unnumbered negatives, assigned a-e and 1-32, with numbers 18 and 24 missing from sequence
approx. 1975
8/2
Publicity portraits - Ava Williams
1933; circa 1935
8/3
Publicity portraits - Ava Williams
1941
8/4
Publicity portraits - Ava Williams
1955
8/5
Publicity portraits - Ava Williams
circa 1970
8/6
Publicity portraits - Ava Williams
circa 1975
8/7
Publicity portraits - Ava Williams
1983
8/8
Publicity portraits - Ava Williams
1993
Oversize folder 1
Publicity portrait - oversize mounted color photograph
1993
8/9
Publicity portraits - Others
approx. 1930-1990
8/10
Presidential photographs
Photograph of Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act of 1935, and portrait of George H.W. and Barbara Bush, circa 1990.
1935; circa 1990
9/1
Barbershop, LaGrande, Ore.
approx. 1890-1930
9/2
Soda Fountain, LaGrande, Ore.
1910s or 1920s
9/3
Group photo in front of First Baptist Church, location unknown
circa 1940
9/4
LaGrande High School (LaGrande, Ore.) reunion
1961
9/5
Portraits & snapshots - Men (mostly unidentified)
approx. 1915-1980
9/6
Portraits & snapshots - Women (mostly unidentified)
approx. 1915-1980
9/7
Portraits & snapshots - Men & Women (mostly unidentified)
approx. 1930-1985
9/8
Portraits of Mr. & Mrs. Otis Vale (LaGrande, Ore.)
1920s?
Oversize folder 2
Oversize photographs
  • Unidentified baseball team, undated
  • Unidentified group (Portland, Ore.), 1940s
undated
9/9
Other photos
undated
9/10
Picture postcards - people
1910s-1940s
9/11
Scenic postcards
Postcards with messages are filed with correspondence.
approx. 1920-1990
10/1
Family photo album
Photos removed from 1980s-era album for preservation.
circa 1915-1975
10/2
Photo album / scrapbook
Photos removed from album for preservation.
approx. 1933-1980
10/3
Photo album
Photos removed from " magnetic" album for preservation.
approx. 1940-1974
10/4
Photo album
Photos removed from album for preservation.
approx. 1940-1978; undated
10/5
Photo album
Photos removed from album for preservation.
1961-1971; undated
10/6
Photo album
Photos removed from album for preservation.
1963-1964; undated
10/7
Photo album
Photos removed from album for preservation.
1967-circa 1985; undated
10/8
Family photo album
Photos removed from 1980s-era album for preservation.
approx. 1880-1980
10/9
Photo album - Ava at 90
2002

Series D:  Audiovisual Materials, circa 1950-2001Return to Top

Audiovisual recordings, sound recordings, and related items

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
Box 11
VHS tapes
  • Provincetown!
  • Ava's B-Day Final Master
  • Rose Tattoo 1989 Ava Williams Valentine Show 1990 Ava Williams & Rod Barrows
  • Ava's Birthday Party at Darcelle's 1993
  • Ava's Birthday 1996 Jasmine Tree
  • Ava's 86th Birthday Party
  • Ava's Birthday March 4, 2000
  • Ava's 89th Birthday Party (2001)
circa 1987-2001
Box 12
Ava Williams's sound recordings & related materials
  • Yours (45 rpm record, 2 copies)
  • A Night with Ava (long-playing record)
  • Ava Misbehaves (long-playing record)
  • All of Ava (long-playing record album)
  • All of Ava (compact disc)
  • Print block for All of Ava album cover
circa 1950-2000

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Performing arts -- Oregon -- History
  • Popular music -- 20th century.
  • Women musicians -- United States -- Photographs
  • World War, 1914-1918-- Correspondence
  • Personal Names :
  • Merritt, Mort
  • Williams, Joseph A.
  • Williams, Laura Merritt
  • Williams, Martin Richard
  • Williams, Ava--Archives (creator)
  • Family Names :
  • Williams Family -- Archives
  • Geographical Names :
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Popular music
  • Portland (Or.) -- Social life and customs
  • Provincetown (Mass.) -- Performing arts
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Clippings
  • Personal papers
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sound recordings
  • Videotapes