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Jon Sutton papers

Identifier: Coll 477

Scope and Contents note

The collection comprises the papers of composer, musician, and artist Jon Sutton and includes artifacts, biographical material, professional papers, books and poetry, musical scores, recordings, news clippings and ephemera, photographs, and artwork.

Series 1: Artifacts includes a metal inkwell made in Japan.

Series 2: Biographical material and professional papers includes a partial autobiography, lists of compositions, a biography by Ella Evers-Meinardi, a biographical chronology, recordings of interviews with Sutton, and a yearbook. It also contains forms and correspondence related to copyright registration and permissions for his musical works.

Series 3: Books and poetry includes writings, mock-ups and dummies for a book of poetry, a children’s book, and a children’s coloring book created by Sutton.

Series 4: News clippings and ephemera is primarily comprised of clippings documenting Sutton's work as an artist and composer. This series also includes clippings about his wedding to Ella Evers-Meinardi and about the "castle" he built in his backyard for his step-daughter, Fleur. Ephemera includes programs and posters, including a memorial performance of “The Family Man” and the “With One Voice” performance of his work at the University of Oregon conducted by Diane Retallack.

Series 5: Photographs and other artwork includes visual works created by Sutton including photographs and slides, original artwork, designs, and a scrapbook. Photographs include personal snapshots, including many taken by Sutton as a photographer for the 151st Engineer Combat Battalion during the Korean War, as well as photos documenting original artwork including his paintings, murals, tapestries, and assemblage work. Original artworks in the collection include a screen prints, furniture and house designs, set designs for "Song of the Open Road" and "Odd Fellows Hall," and a portfolio of screen prints titled Korea, 1952. This portfolio was displayed in the Eugene Public Library's upstairs gallery. The scrapbook contains personal clippings and photos of family and artistic works.

Series 6: Scores and recordings comprises the majority of the collection. Subseries 6.1 includes original sheet music and audio and video recordings (cassette, CD, reel-to-reel, and VHS) for musical works composed by Sutton. These works include dance mimes “The Clown,” “Odd Fellows Hall,” and “Pinocchio”; the symphonic poem “Vela de Muerto,” and the tone poem “Walk Through Paradise Garden”; musicals “Chip of the Rockies” and “Song of the Open Road”; and numerous pieces for voice and/or piano. Subseries 6.2 includes scores and recordings created by others.


  • 1947-2017
  • Majority of material found within 1952-1999


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Jon Sutton was born October 15, 1927, in Sacramento, California. In 1930, his parents divorced, and Sutton spent much of his childhood moving around California – nearly every year. By the end of the second World War, Sutton was living in San Francisco, California, where he attended Galileo High School and was a member of the Mill Valley Masquers. After graduating high school in 1947, Sutton supported himself by working at some of the more prominent San Francisco hotels, and in commercial lithography.

Sutton was drafted into the armed forces during the Korean War. During his first year, he worked as an artist-illustrator; by his second year, he had begun work as a photographer for the 151st Engineer Combat Battalion in Korea. After his honorable discharge in 1952, Sutton returned to San Francisco and continued to work as a lithographer while attending San Francisco State College where he studied Music Composition. In 1955, Sutton moved to Boston to pursue his studies at Boston University and the Boston Architectural Center. While in school, he worked part time as a lithographer, interior designer, and fabric designer. Sutton returned to San Francisco in 1958, where he worked as an art director, composer, and film editor for Studio 16 Films, until opening his own custom fabric printing plant in 1961.

Sutton taught Fabric Printing at Marin Junior College for a year in the early 1960’s, and taught music at the Marin Country Day School and Marin Academy High School in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. In 1975, Sutton moved to Eugene, Oregon and worked in Wolf Creek, Oregon. In 1975 he met and married Ella Evers-Meinardi of Holland. In 1976, Sutton received a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Music from the Honor’s College of the University of Oregon.

Sutton worked as was a musician and a composer throughout his life. The Eugene Ballet Company performed his ballet "Pinocchio," and the Very Little Theatre staged his musical melodrama "East of the Rockies." His major work, an oratorio based on the writings of Martin Luther King Jr., had its premiere at the Hult Center in 1988. In addition to his work as a composer, lithographer, art director, and fabric designer, Sutton created 200 watercolor drawings and 30 wall hangings; a book of poetry related to his composition, The Seasons; 12 assemblages, one of which became a record cover for RCA Victor; and patented a line of collapsible furniture. Sutton also sang with the Eugene Concert Choir, and the choir of Central Presbyterian Church.

Jon Sutton passed away August 19, 2004 of lung disease. After his passing, the Eugene Concert Choir and Oregon Mozart Players performed his cantata, “The Family of Man,” in a memorial concert on January 22, 2005.


26 linear feet (17 containers) : 7 record storage boxes, 2 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 2 oversize flat boxes, 4 oversize folders, 1 custom clamshell box

Language of Materials



The collection comprises the papers of composer, musician, and artist Jon Sutton, and includes artifacts, biographical material, professional papers, books and poetry, musical scores, recordings, news clippings and ephemera, and photographs and artwork.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series:

Series 1: Artifacts, circa 1950s.

Series 2: Biographical and professional papers, 1951-2004.

Series 3: Books and poetry, circa 1950-1999. Arranged alphabetically by title of work.

Series 4: News clippings and ephemera, 1960-2017.

Series 5: Photographs and other artwork, circa 1948-2000. Arranged alphabetically by format or medium of work.

Series 6: Scores and recordings, 1947-2005.

Subseries 6.1: Composed or arranged by Jon Sutton, 1947-1999.

Subseries 6.2: Composed or arranged by others, 1977-2005. Arranged chronologically by date of composition. Undated scores and recordings appear at the end.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated by Ella Evers-Meinardi. Matted artwork donated by Diane Retallack.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Rachel Lilley, 2017. Revised in 2018 by Alexa Goff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Jon Sutton papers
Complete Description
Alexa Goff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA