Lavinia Scott papers – Open for Access


The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) and George Mason University (GMU) Libraries recently hosted an event celebrating the official opening of the Lavinia Scott papers.

This collection consists of 33 linear feet of material created and collected by missionary educator and speaker (Clara) Lavinia Scott (1907-1997) spanning circa the 1860s-1998, with particularly rich coverage surrounding her nearly 40 years (1932-1974) living and working as a missionary educator in present-day KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. This includes professional correspondence and materials created by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), the United Church Board for World Ministries (UCBWM), the United Church of Christ (UCC), and South Africa’s mission schools, particularly Inanda Seminary where Lavinia served as Principal for over 30 years (1936-1969). The collection also includes materials related to Lavinia’s personal life, including family, friends, and personal travels, such as educational records, creative writings, correspondence, souvenir postcards, and 45 individual daily diaries which cover nearly every year between 1920-1997, as well as over 3,000 personal and professional photographs and slides.


From the Lavinia Scott papers, C0506. Inscription on back: “Giving the Inanda report at the Umkandhlu in July ’48. This is the ‘General Council’ of our churches. The pastor nearer me is the one who led our Anniversary Sunday service.”


The opening event, held on Wednesday March 13, began with remarks from donor Dr. Peter Stearns, Lavinia’s nephew and former GMU Provost and Professor of History. Dr. Stearns spoke about the history of the collection’s materials and Lavinia’s life and work. These remarks were followed by a presentation from SCRC Processing Manager Meghan Glasbrenner, who processed the Lavinia Scott papers from September 2022 – August 2023.


Dr. Peter Stearns (left) and Meghan Glasbrenner (right) speaking at the Collection Opening event

Q&A session with event attendees


In addition to providing a preview of the collection’s contents, these remarks also highlighted potential areas of research within the materials, such as the experiences of women missionaries (with particular emphasis on Lavinia Scott), the history and evolution of South Africa’s mission schools, and the stories of many of the schools’ students and families. This was followed by a Q&A session and concluded with an exhibition of selected items.


Dr. Stearns and Meghan Glasbrenner answered questions and talked with attendees throughout the exhibition

Inanda Seminary magazine “Ezakwamahedwards”, 1946, 1960-1961, 1965, 1967-1985, 1991, 1993-1994. Lavinia Scott papers, C0506, Box 15, Folders 4-10, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Cardboard backed family and personal photographs, circa 1870s-1970s. Lavinia Scott papers, C0506, Box 37, Folders 3-5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.


The full finding aid for the Lavinia Scott papers (C0506) can now be accessed online at the following URL: For reference or appointment inquiries please visit our website, email us at, or call 703-993-2220.


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