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Lavinia Scott (1907-1997) Papers

Identifier: 005

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Scope and Contents

The Lavinia Scott Papers relate to her life and work as a missionary in Natal, South Africa. They consist mainly of letters and other items sent by Scott and her missionary colleagues to her mother, Mrs. G.H. Scott, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and, later, Evanston, Illinois. The correspondence ceased with the death of Mrs. Scott in 1959.

While the social and political affairs of South Africa are reflected in the papers to some extent, especially in materials dating from after World War II, they primarily illuminate daily life in the Bantu mission schools.

The correspondence, by far the largest subseries, is divided into five groups. The first, letters to Mrs. G.H. Scott from Lavinia Scott, consists of a chronological run of personal letters 1931-1959, followed by a chronological run of general letters 1932-1959. The personal letters, generally handwritten, are from Lavinia to her mother, and deal primarily, though not exclusively, with social and family news. The general letters, mimeographed or typewritten and sent in multiple copies to family and friends, are less personal in nature, often dealing with mission activities and African issues.

The second group of correspondence, letters to Mrs. G.H. Scott from other correspondents, includes letters from family members, personal friends, missionaries in Africa and elsewhere, and Lavinia's colleagues. Arranged chronologically, this file is composed of both personal letters and mimeographed “Dear Friends” newsletters. Also to be found here are “Little Pictures,” narrative descriptions of Inanda life sent to Mrs. Scott by Inanda staff member Beatrice Cowey.

Three small files complete the correspondence: letters to Lavinia Scott from other correspondents; letters to other correspondents from Lavinia Scott; and miscellaneous correspondence. Miscellaneous correspondence consists of a few letters neither to nor from either Lavinia Scott or Mrs. G.H. Scott.

In order to save space and postage, Mrs. Scott's African correspondents, including Lavinia, often mailed more than one letter in the same envelope. Individual letters have been separated and filed in their proper locations. Enclosures, including a few photographs, have been retained where they were found. A few letters bear appended notes by individuals other than the primary correspondent.

The official reports consist of copies of reports prepared by Lavinia Scott for the American Board, including annual reports of Inanda Seminary. Arrangement is chronological.

The printed materials include materials concerning Adams Mission/Amanzimtoti Institute and Inanda Seminary, materials produced by the American Board, miscellaneous printed materials, and clippings. Programs, invitations, brochures, and broadsides concerning activities and mission work in both Africa and America are to be found in the miscellaneous printed materials category. The clippings concern Scott, the mission schools at Adams and Inanda, and persons and institutions that figure prominently in the correspondence files. Many items in the printed materials probably were enclosed with correspondences. In each of the subgroups of printed materials, arrangement is chronological.

The miscellaneous writings include stories, poems, and reports pertaining to Africa and missionary affairs. Some were written by Inanda staff members, others may have been written by Mrs. G.H. Scott.

The notes by Mrs. G.H. Scott include annotated quotations from Lavinia Scott's letters and notes regarding gifts and topics to be discussed in future letters.


  • 1930-1959


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions. To inquire about access to this collection, please contact the Herskovits Library at


4.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Missionary in Natal, South Africa; papers consist mainly of letters and other items sent by Scott and her colleagues to her mother.

Arrangement Note

The Scott Papers are divided into five subseries: Correspondence, Official Reports, Printed Materials, Miscellaneous Writings, and Notes.

Method of Acquisition

The Lavinia Scott Papers were donated to the Department of African Studies in 1959, and were later transferred to the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies. See correspondence of November 19, 1959, and February 17, 1980, in the Africana Archives files.

Processing Information

Processed by Lisa B. Williams, August 1981.

Guide to the Lavinia Scott (1907-1997) Papers
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Library Details

Part of the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies Repository

Main Library, 5th Floor, East Tower
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US