Guide to the James Foster Scott Papers,

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Scott, James Foster, 1863
Title: James Foster Scott Papers
Dates: 1863-1946 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 2 boxes (3 linear feet)
Collection Number: USU_COLL MSS 180
Summary: It is comprised mainly of the writings and correspondence of James Foster Scott and various family members.
Repository: Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives Division
Contact Information: Special Collections and Archives
Merrill-Cazier Library
Utah State University
Logan, UT
Telephone: 435-797-2663
Fax: 435-797-2880
Languages: Material in English 

Biographical Note

James Foster Scott was born in India at Futteguhr, 50 miles from Agra, on January 22, 1863. His closest relatives were the Fosters of Chile, where his mother's brother, Julius Mulford Foster, of Milford, carried on a large milling business and left numerous descendants. His son, Manuel Foster, of Chile, was one of the noted lawyers of South America. Dr. Scott's father was the Rev. James Long Scott, a Presbyterian minister, and his mother was Eliza Jane Foster, a Presbyterian missionary, as well as a pioneer in women's education.

James Foster Scott attended Hastings Academy in Philadelphia and took an A.B. at Yale in 1884, where he was an athlete who rowed on the varsity crew and developed his great love of rivers and boats. A book written about him, Sourdough Gold, by Mary Lee Davis and published in 1933, tells chiefly of his solo trip down the Yukon in a small boat in 1898 when he piloted his boat over the famous White Horse Rapids and other dangerous places in Alaska.

Dr. Scott received an M.B. and C.M. from Edinburgh University and later an M.D., completing his post-graduate work at Vienna. For three years he was a member of the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps of the British army and spent three years in the British West Indies. At the age of twenty-seven he was made head of the Columbia Hospital in Washington, D.C. and was elected vice president of the Medical Society. He was considered one of the most brilliant young doctors in the profession and wrote a medical book that is still quoted by authorities. At the height of this early success and in the midst of a brilliant career and fashionable life in Washington D.C., Dr. Scott astonished his friends by giving it up and going to the wilds of the Yukon, after which he lived a retired life in the Virginia woods and spent time rowing the Potomac. As the book Sourdough Gold explains, he did not care to be a distinguished gentleman with a silky bedside manner but set out to find the real man beneath all the over-education he had received. Friends and neighbors say that no two people were ever more ideally happy than Dr. Scott and his wife in their "Kalokagathon" retreat, the Greek term for the Greek Ideal of the "Good and the Beautiful and True" which Dr. Scott made the principle of his life.

Dr. Scott wrote numerous volumes on philosophy with special emphasis on ethics and Christianity. Dr. Scott’s interests in these topics were partly derived from attitudes found his mother's family, enlightened Puritans that had migrated to America in 1635. These writings analyzed the relationship between Christian ethics and religion and the modern sciences.

Dr. Scott died on Wednesday, February 20, 1946 following an operation at the Emergency Hospital. Funeral services were held Friday at his home near McLean, Virginia. A physical culturist at 83, Dr. Scott was cutting down trees only a few days before, as was his daily exercise, together with shooting the rapids in his boat in the Potomac below his house on the hill. His death came before he was able to complete his writing, and he left in a fireproof safe the product of nearly 50 years of study and research intended for publication as a series of works on philosophy.

For over 30 years, Dr. Scott lived near McLean, Virginia where he was sometimes called the "Hermit of Scott's Island," an island he bought along the Potomac, upon which he built a house. Dr. Scott married Karen Gram on March 13, 1940 and they had no children.

Content Description

The James Foster Scott collection covers his life span from 1863 to 1946. It is comprised mainly of the writings and correspondence of James Foster Scott and various family members. Dr. Scott spent approximately forty years studying philosophy and religion, and many of his writings deal with those subjects.

Important items of interest to a researcher would be Folder 2, Item 1, a thirty-two page letter to Coleman Jennings on the description of Dr. Scott's conclusions in the areas of philosophy and religion; Folder 3, Piece 19, "My Creed and My Prayer;" and Folder 13, Dr. Scott's Yukon experience in 1898.

For those interested in the Scott or Foster family genealogy or family history, there are several items of interest in this collection. There are two pages from Dr. Scott's father's family Bible containing family members' birth and death dates. There are also several overviews of Dr. Scott's life as well as some information on Dr. Scott's parents and other members of his family.

During processing, the processor compiled the Scott/Foster family information from Folder 12 on to four pedigree charts and fifty-one family group sheets. This information is included in Folder 12, Item 18, for the convenience of the researcher.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Use :  

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the James Foster Scott Papers must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.

Preferred Citation :  

Initial Citation: James Foster Scott Papers USU_COLL MSS 180, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.

Following Citations:USU_COLL MSS 180, USUSCA.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Arranged by subject matter and then chronologically.

Processing Note :  

Processed in June of 2006

Separated Materials :  

Photographs belonging to Dr. Scott have been placed in the University photograph collection. A description of those photographs is available atP0120

Bibliography :  

Detailed Description of the Collection

Miscellaneous Papers on the life of Dr. James Foster Scott, Undated
1 1
Item 1: Piece. l/2 sheet. Name, birth & death dates Undated
Item 2: History written for "A History of the Class of '84, of Yale College" 1914
Item 3: Photograph and poem about Sourdough boys in the Klondike Undated
Item 4: Troop 12 newsletter honoring Dr. James Foster Scott Undated
Item 5: Who's Who in American Sports, National Biographical Society Inc. Entry on Dr. Scott 1928
Item 6: (Folded) Advertisement for Sourdough Gold based on Dr. Scott's experiences Undated
Item 7: Program for Delta Phi & Philadelphian Literary Societies of West Philadelphia Academy (Scott is listed as Valedictory) 1880 June 15
Item 8: West Philadelphia Academy report card for James Foster Scott 1879 November 30
Item 9: Annual registration to practice, issued to Dr. James Foster Scott 1946
Item 10: Address in Philadelphia when sixteen years old Undated
Item 11: Outline of James Foster Scott's life Undated
Item 12: Outline of James Foster Scott's life and funeral service Undated

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Correspondence by James Foster Scott, 1925-1943
1 2
Item 1: Thirty-two pages to Coleman Jennings 1925 August 20
Item 2: Three pages to Daggett 1931 May 4
Item 3: To Mr. Hoffman 1936 July 26
Item 4: Four pages to Mrs. McMurray 1938 May 9
Item 5: Six pages to Karen (future wife) 1940 January 18
Item 6: To Mr. Conrad 1943 February 6
Item 7: To President Seymour, Yale University 1943 May 26

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Miscellaneous Writings, Undated
1 3
Item 1: Triadic Norm Undated
Item 2: (folded) 2 pages "A Little Parable" Undated
Item 3: "Friendship" Undated
Item 4: Sayings Undated
Item 5: Goals Undated
Item 6: Story "Personal appearance of Jesus" Undated
Item 7: Notebook pages. Undated
Item 8: "Suggestions for Outfit to Yukon" Undated
Item 9: Four pages - "An Epic" Undated
Item 10: "Friendship" Undated
Item 11: Article by Zeller on "Friendship" Undated
Item 12: Notebook page. Undated
Item 13: Notebook page. Undated
Item 14: Quote of Diveles. Undated
Item 15: Page 121 of unknown manuscript. Undated
Item 16: "A Voice From the Wilderness" Undated
Item 17: Page 213 of an unknown manuscript. Undated
Item 18: Working copy at "A Voice from the Wilderness" Undated
Item 19: "My Creed and My Prayer" Undated
Item 20: "To a Waterfowl" Undated

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Miscellaneous Correspondence
1 4
Item 1: To Anita from Julis M. Foster Undated
Item 2: Three pages to Floyd Bartlett from Julius M. Foster 1912 January 30
Item 3: To Mr. Jennings from ? 1925 July 27
Item 4: To Miss Adams from Allen Wilde 1933 October 9
Item 5: To Mary Lee Davis from T.D. Pattullo 1938 January 5
Item 6: To Mrs. Gram from Harry Foreman 1940 April 1

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Writings of Helen Snow, Undated
1 5
Item 1: Page 3 of unknown letter Undated
Item 2: Outline of Dr. Scott's life, etc. Undated

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Miscellaneous Writings of Various Unknown Authors, 1836
1 6
Item 1: Written by a missionary preparing to leave home 1836 October
Item 2: Heading: Mrs. E.D. Allen, McLean, Virginia Undated
Item 3: Thoughts of James Foster Scott by Portia Bailey Undated
Item 4: Two pages. Duns Scotus Undated
Item 5: (Torn page) Education and Logic Undated
Item 6: Quote from Cuthbert Lennox Undated
Item 7: Two pages Reader's Digest - "The Source of All Our Strength," by A. Whitney Griswold Undated
Item 8: "The Cloud" by Shelley Undated
Item 9: Exploration of Kalokagathon Undated
Item 10: Quote from Thomas A. Kempis Undated
Item 11: Poem. (Unknown) Undated
Item 12: Note on editorial changes Undated
Item 13: Visitors List, etc. Undated
Item 14: Poem Undated
Item 15: Editor notes on photographs Undated
Item 16: Two pages. Poem "The Quest" Undated
Item 17: Poem written for James Foster Scott on his birthday by doctors and nurses at Columbia Hospital Undated
Item 18: Pan - Sophism Undated
Item 19: Two pages. "The Mysteries of Life" Undated
Item 20: "Dogwood Trees" Undated
Item 21: Thirteen page story - "A Roman Lawyer in Jerusalem First Century" by William Wetmore Undated
Item 22: "Write" - Princess Hotel Bermuda Undated
Item 23: Carol Bosche notes Undated
Item 24: Book notes, quotes Undated
Item 25: Quotes Undated

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Karen Scott Writings, 1946
1 7
Item 1: Journal pages 1946 February 20
Item 2: About Dr. Scott Undated
Item 3: Rough draft of letter to Coleman Undated
Item 4: Quotes Undated
Item 5: Quotes Undated
Item 6: Quotes Undated
Item 7: Quotes Undated
Item 8: Notes Undated
Item 9: Sixteen pages - Rough drafts of letters and manuscript notes Undated
Item 10: Notes on logic and science Undated
Item 11: Notes on Dr. Scott Undated
Item 12: Rough Draft of Dr. Scott's funeral service Undated
Item 13: Four pages - notes on Dr. Scott Undated
Item 14: Quotes about Dr. Scott Undated
Item 15: Drawing of unknown purpose Undated

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Dr. Scott's Medical Records, Undated
1 8
Item 1: Mrs. John Ball Osborne Undated
Item 2: Mrs. George Wallace Undated
Item 3: Charles C. Worthington Undated

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Correspondence written by Karen Scott, Undated
1 9
Item 1: To Miss Hamilton - Post 1946
Item 2: To Mrs. Edward I. Roberts 1955 June 11
Item 3: To Swami Prabharananda 1951 August 1

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Correspondence to James Foster Scott, 1904-1948
1 10
Item 1: From Colonial Secretary's Office, Bermuda 1904 December 14
Item 2: Five pages from Joseph Carson Jr 1932 April 17
Item 3: Two pages from Coleman 1933 October 19
Item 4: Two pages from Earl Poince 1933 November 23
Item 5: From Harriet Prince Parrish 1934 January 1
Item 6: From Mary Lee Davis 1934 February 14
Item 7: From Ruth Knowles 1934 October 9
Item 8: From Earl Prince 1934 November 21
Item 9: From Harriet Prince 1935 June 28
Item 10: From Coleman 1936 November 30
Item 11: From Alfred A. Wilde 1937 March 23
Item 12: Two pages - from David Herriott
(See Peace Plan FOLDER)
1938 January 17
Item 13: Two pages from William Haseltine 1938 January 12
Item 14: From Earl Prince 1939 January 26
Item 15: From Henry Forman 1940 April 6
Item 16: Two pages from Marx Lee Davis 1943 March 16
Item 17: Two pages from Henry Forman 1945 December 20
Item 18: From Sally Greenwood - July 30, 1948
(Written to Dr. Scott after his death. She didn't know he had passed away.)
1948 July 30
Item 19: From Harriett Prince Undated
Item 20: From Harriett Prince Undated
Item 21: Two pages from George Hogg
(explains unknown drawing in FOLDER 7, Piece #15)
Item 22: From Mrs. G. Gilmer Easley March 2
Item 23: Three pages from Harriett Prince Undated
Item 24: From Kathryn Fulkerson Undated
Item 25: (Folded) Christmas Card from Comfert Comfiers Undated

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Correspondence to Karen Scott, 1946-1953
1 11
Item 1: From Irving Harris 1946 February 28
Item 2: From Robert Von Neuman 1949 April 8
Item 3: From Portia Bailey 1952 February 13
Item 4: From Andrea Lloyd 1953 November 30
Item 5: From John ? 1953 August 3
Item 6: From Helen Snow Undated
Item 7: From Murray [?] March 2

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Genealogy and Family History of James Foster Scott, Undated
1 12
Item 1: (Folded) Memorial to Mrs. Eliza Jane Foster Scott. James Foster Scott's mother Undated
Item 2: Fairview Cemetery, Coalesville, Pennsylvania, Scott section Undated
Item 3: Information on Dr. Scott's great uncle Undated
Item 4: Notebook page on birth & death dates Undated
Item 5: Postcard - Milford, Penn., from Foster Hill Undated
Item 6: Information on Jose Denoso, relative Undated
Item 7: Page of birth and death dates Undated
Item 8: Page of birth and death dates Undated
Item 9: Two pages - Scott Family Bible Records Undated
Item 10: Fifty-one pages - Scott family history Undated
Item 11: Page 15 from unknown manuscript of Scott history Undated
Item 12: Fifteen pages - written to Helen F. Snow, telling the history of Julius M. Foster in Chile by his son, Manuel Foster Undated
Item 13: Foster family crest Undated
Item 14: Notes on cemeteries Undated
Item 15: Note card with information on Helen F. Snow Undated
Item 16: Three pages - notes on Foster genealogy Undated
Item 17: Two pages - typed information from Scott family Bible Undated
Item 18: Fifty-five pages of pedigree charts and family group sheets, compiled by the processor Undated

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Manuscripts on Yukon Experience by James Foster Scott, Undated
1 13
Item 1: Seven pages - Alaska and the Klondike Undated
Item 2: Thirty-seven pages - Article l (Notebook) Undated
Item 3: Sixty-seven pages - Article 2 (Notebook) Undated

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Peace Plan, Undated
1 14
Item 1: (Folded) "A Highway to World Peace" by David Herriott Undated
Item 2: Fifteen pages - "Peace Plan" by David Herriott Undated

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Yukon Booklet, Undated
1 15
Item 1: Fifty-five pages - Railroad Guide to Yukon Undated

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Copies of Newspaper Clippings, Undated
1 16
Item 1-22: Various newspaper articles, including death announcement, Yale Yachting Club, and religious articles Undated

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Scott Family Certificates, 1852-1879
2 1
Item 1: Eliza Jane Foster - Testimonial from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary 1852 August 5
Item 2: Harriet E. Scott. Directorium 1885
Item 3: Anna Scott - Life member of The Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church 1874 October 5
Item 4: Harriet Elizabeth Scott - Testimonial from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary 1879 June 26
Item 5: James Foster Scott - University of Edinburgh School of Medicine Undated
Item 6: James Foster Scott - Northwest Territories of Canada - Medical License Undated
Item 7: James Foster Scott - University of Edinburgh School of Medicine Undated
Item 8: James Foster Scott - Copy of Yale Degree with photo Undated
Item 9: James Foster Scott - Yale degree Undated
Item 10: James Foster Scott - University of Edinburgh Undated
Item 11: James Foster Scott - Member of Free and Accepted Masons - Washington D.C. Undated
Item 12: James Foster Scott - Edinburgh Royal Maternity and Simpson Memorial Hospital - Certification Undated

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    • Personal Names :
    • Scott, James Foster, 1863
    • Geographical Names :
    • Yukon--Description and travel

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