Natalie V. Scott Exhibit Home
We dedicate this online exhibit to the memory of John Wyeth "Jock" Scott, II (June 29, 1947 - April 25, 2009). Jock was an attorney, scholar, historian, author, civic activist, and political reformer whose love and admiration for his great aunt revealed itself in his book, Natalie Scott: A Magnificent Life.
A decorated war hero, a celebrated newspaperwoman, an award winning playwright, a wilderness explorer, a Red Cross nurse, translator, teacher and social worker, Natalie Scott lived and worked among the poor, the war wounded, and the humble on four continents.
She also counted among her intimate friends many of the twentieth century’s most noteworthy characters, its finest writers, artists and scholars, — her life filled with action, drama, humor, purpose, inspiration, and colorful personalities.
There were five distinct periods of Natalie’s life: First, her eventful early life, including the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1897 in Bay St. Louis, her Newcomb College years (Class of 1909), joining the Newcomb faculty in 1910, earning her Tulane masters degree in Ancient Greek studies in 1914, her proficiency in numerous languages (French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Greek).
World War I became the second period, with the Red Cross in France, Natalie working in the Red Cross headquarters for Dr. Alexander Lambert, chief of operations in France and Belgium, through the German bombings of Paris in early 1918. When the German offensive threatened to overrun Paris in March, Natalie rushed into refugee work, then volunteered for nursing/translator work in a French evacuation hospital near the battlefront where she worked among the wounded through the war. Here her heroism during German bombing raids earned her the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest medal for bravery.
The third period was New Orleans, the decade of the Roaring Twenties. Natalie returned as a war hero, the only American woman awarded the French Croix de Guerre. As a feature writer and columnist for the New Orleans States, she became a vital member of the literary/artistic/intellectual colony of the French Quarter, her close companions being a colorful band of authors and artists: Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Lyle Saxon, Roark Bradford, William Spratling, Oliver LaFargue, Caroline Durieux, Frans Blom, Lyle Saxon, among others. Her group produced four Pulitzers and one Nobel prize for literature.
Her life in Taxco, Mexico, beginning in 1930, became the fourth major period in her life. Here she continued her journalism while exploring much of Mexico on horseback, also establishing social improvements for the people of Taxco. Natalie created a peasant school and a medical cooperative that brought the first physician to Taxco. As she had in New Orleans, Natalie instigated an artistic/literary colony, opening the Kitigawa House, a pensión for artists and writers.
The Scott papers
The Louisiana Research Collection is honored to preserve the papers of Natalie Vivian Scott. The Scott papers span the period from 1890 through 1957 and include correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and other documents.
The papers are open to researchers. The finding aid for the Scott papers is available online.
Red Cross service overseas in World War II became the fifth distinct period of Natalie’s life, serving with American troops in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany, her battlefront evacuation hospital moving with the U.S. 7th Army invading Germany, freeing and caring for prisoners of war and those imprisoned in concentration camps. Natalie was in route to the Pacific when Japan surrendered in August, 1945; she then served with U.S. occupation forces in the devastated Philippines, Japan and Korea through 1948.
Natalie devoted the last decade of her life, 1948 to 1957, to her Taxco school for impoverished children while serving as Taxco’s leading hostess for its intellectual circle of authors and artists, also returning to her journalism while continuing to publish popular New Orleans and Mexican cookbooks.
In 1944, American literary figures Anne Kennedy and Genevieve Parkhurst declared Natalie’s World War II letters to be “the most human and interesting news of the Red Cross that has come out of the war overseas.” Her World War I letters were at least as good, essentially a war diary beautifully written with deep insight, full of action, drama, and wit. In a very personal sense, Natalie defined these two terrible wars for her generation by her own actions and sacrifices, by her vivid portrayal of the tumultuous events she witnessed, the places, people and conditions, tragedy, camaraderie, and heroism.