This collection belongs to a couple, Eveline Thomson and Harold Lorain Scott, who devoted most of their lives to such important educational institutions as Robert College and the American College for Girls in Istanbul, and to their son, David Alexander Scott. It consists of letters, diaries, photographs, correspondences and lecture notes. The Scotts papers include striking records documenting the important role their small Anglo-Saxon community played in culture, arts and education both in the late Ottoman Empire and in the Turkish Republic.
James Binns, who settled in Bebek and Rumelihisarı in the 1840s and worked as a factory manager in the Ottoman lands, was the director of İzmit Wool Processing Plant. He married Ann, a daughter of the Longbottom Family, one of the British partners of the factory. James’s and Ann’s daughter Evalina Constanta Pembe Binns was born in İstanbul in 1845. Evalina eventually married John Seager of a similarly wealthy British family. John’s father was involved in a maritime shipping business at the time and increased his fortune by renting his steam tug to various ports on the Bosphorus. Born in 1865 as one of the ten children born into this marriage, Olivia Anne Seager was Eveline Thomson’s mother. Olivia Anne Seager and Scottish American Alexander Thomson met in Istanbul and soon after settled in the US.
In the neighboring suburb of Bebek, there was a flourishing colony of English people – some ten to fifteen families – and it was here that my parents met. During and after the Crimean War, a number of English families established themselves in Turkey, becoming for the most part, merchants and agents in England. On the Asiatic shore, there was another settlement with its own chapel, cricket field, tennis court and church much like the one in Bebek.
From the autobiography of Eveline Thomson Scott
Eveline started her education in Portland, but upon her father’s death at a young age, returned with her mother to Istanbul where she still had a number of relatives. Olivia A. Thomson started teaching at the American College for Girls in Üsküdar, while her daughter Evelina resumed her education there, graduating in 1909. She then went to Cambridge University, England, for training in teaching. After receiving a university certificate in teaching, she returned to Istanbul. She first taught at a small British community school for children, and then at the American College for Girls in Üsküdar and finally in the British Literature program at Robert College where she met Harold Lorain Scott. The couple was married in 1920, and their only child, David Alexander, was born in 1924.
Harold Lorain Scott was born in Bedford, Ohio, in 1889 and spent the first years of his education in Osaka, Japan, where his father was a missionary. He graduated from Denison University in 1911, and started teaching at Robert College thereafter.
Harold Lorain Scott served nearly 41 years as a professor of history, the principal of Robert Academy, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the American vice-president of the Robert College. Serving longer than any American faculty in its history, he has come to be identified with Robert College, and he meant much more than an instructor for many who had been students there. He died in 1958. The collection includes his correspondence with his students and family, particularly with his missionary father in Japan, Job Hart Scott. It also includes photographs, lecture notes and the diary he kept during World War I. The drafts of his book project, “Robert College Story,” that he had worked on by using the archives in the US, UK and Turkey, but was unable to complete due his death, are also part of the collection.
Eveline and Harold Scott’s son, David Alexander Scott, was born on 18 October 1924. After spending the first fifteen years of his life in Turkey, David moved to the United States of America to continue his education at the Deerfield Academy. He then continued his education at Princeton University but left the university in his sophomore year and joined the American Army. He was among the many male students who were sent to Europe to fight in World War II.
The Scott Papers is a family collection; however, we might also claim that it pertains most to Eveline Thomson Scott, the family member who was the most prolific and who lived the longest. Eveline Thomson Scott, a passionate and prolific author, wrote many essays and poems inspired by Anatolia and İstanbul. It is possible to trace the influences of Charlotte Brontë in her literary works.
I know that autumn is coming,
For I saw the black crows fly,
In an even and noisy procession
Across a clow-ridden sky
I know that autumn is coming
For my heart is heavy with rain
And I fear me that God was to get us
And never saw springtime again.
Eveline Thomson, "Autumn", September 1912
Eveline Scotts’s correspondence with her mother Olivia A. Seager constitute an important part of this collection. Eveline’s insistence on corresponding with her mother, despite the fact that they were living on the same campus, points at her devotion to writing. Diaries that she kept for sixty years starting when she was 16 years-old include her personal observations and remarks concerning the late Ottoman and early Republican political life in Turkey and observations on everyday activities at the American College for Girls and Robert College.
Eveline’s travel notebooks and photographs include many trips she made to cities in Europe such as Paris, Strasbourg, Genova, Basel, Napoli, Athens and Cambridge and in the United States as well as many locations in Anatolia including Konya, Karaman, Mersin, Adana, Eskişehir, Afyonkarahisar and İzmir.
Eveline’s diaries and travel notes include many photographs. In addition to these photographs, which accompany her diary entries and travel notes, the visual archival materials in the collection include family albums, photographs of Robert College and the American College for Girls and postcards of İstanbul.
Visual materials, which portray the social and intellectual lives of Anglo-American families who lived in Rumelihisarı in particular and İstanbul in general and who played a significant role in the development of trade in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, also constitute an important part of this collection. Some of these photographs were taken by then-famous and important studios such as those of Abdullah Fréres, Phebus, Sébah & Joaillier and Tchobanian Fréres.
This collection, left to us by the Scott Family, not only informs us of the everyday practices of an Anglo-saxon family that dwelled in İstanbul for more than eighty years, but also provides us with important documents that offer valuable insights into the educational institutions to which they devoted their lives as well as the significant influence the multicultural life of İstanbul had on the world of education.