HOLLAND – John Anthony Scott, 94, of Leno Rd., Holland died Friday, June 25, at home. He leaves a daughter, Elizabeth Scott, of Brookhaven, NY, and two sons, John W. Scott and Robert A. Scott, both of Holland. His wife of 61 years, Maria (Malville Haller) Scott, died in 2002.
Tony Scott was born in England, the son of the late Philip and Nora (Mortiboys) Scott, and grew up in London. He went to Saint Paul’s School in London, and later graduated from Oxford University. After traveling to the United States to do graduate work at Columbia University, he met and soon married Maria Haller, a student at Barnard College, and daughter of William Haller, a scholar of Puritanism in Elizabethan England. Maria taught for many years in the New York City area, at the Riverdale Country School, and at the Manhattan Country Day school. In her retirement she served on the Holland Board of Health.
After Pearl Harbor, though he was still a British Citizen, Tony enlisted in the US army where he joined in the invasion of Normandy, was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, received a Purple Heart, along with American citizenship. He worked in military intelligence, due to his knowledge of the French, German, Italian and Russian languages. In the course of that duty he witnessed the results of Nazi genocide.
After the war, he received his Doctorate in History from Colombia University, and subsequently taught at Amherst College, where both his father-in-law and grandfather-in-law had attended and taught. Subsequently, for more than 30 years, Tony taught History at Fieldston School, in the Bronx, NY. There he was in the forefront of educators using original source materials and the inquiry method of history teaching. He also taught law students at Rutgers University, in Princeton, NJ, in the common law, and in law and society.
Tony wrote or edited numerous books, mostly on US History, from the Colonial period, to the Vietnam War era. In 1961, he edited and republished for the first time in over a hundred years, a classic abolitionist journal by the famous British actress, Frances Anne Kemble, titled: Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839. He translated from French, the trial summation of a great martyr of the French revolution. The Defense of Gracchus Babeuf, was published in 1964. In 1984, he authored the National Geographic Picture Atlas, The Story of America. Tony produced dozens of books in which he wove primary source materials into readable narratives for the high school history student and general readers. His emphasis on teaching from primary sources, rather than what he called the “dry husks of facts,” of conventional history texts, led in 1963 and 1968, to his two volume work, Living Documents in American History.
Early in his career Tony recognized that folk songs were primary sources of unique value for the classroom. To this end, he formed close working relationships with a number of pioneers in the field. In the 1950s, he began working with the late Bill Bonyun, of Heirloom Records, Westport ME. Bill, and later Tony, worked for a time as the Old Sturbridge Village singer-on-the-green. Tony collaborated, in the ‘60s, with the late Kent Sidon, of the Guitar Workshop, Roslyn NY, in the training of teachers and students in folk music. In the 1970s, with late Laurie Seidman of Post College in Long Island NY, he co-founded the newsletter and non-profit teacher training organization, ‘Folksong in the Classroom.’
Outside of the classroom, Tony became active early in the civil rights movement and later in the movement against the war in Vietnam. Under the late civil rights leader Bayard Rustin he helped to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, on August 28, 1963. Later in the 1960’s he spent many hours counseling young men about their rights and options in dealing with the draft.
Besides devoting much of his life to such causes, he strove to inspire in young people the belief in their own power to shape the world. As one of his students wrote:
“Tony believed we all have innate power, we just need to discover it. It was his passionate belief that the destiny of this country — that of tending, however tortuously, in the direction of its democratic ideals — had been and would continue to be shaped by the struggle of ordinary people, and he lived his life on the basis of that credo. I hope (and believe) that so vivid a life will go on teaching us.”
A memorial will be held at the Center Meetinghouse, Old Sturbridge Village, Stallion Hill Road, Sturbridge, MA, on Saturday, August 21, 2010, at 6:00 p.m. All are welcome. It will help to let us know you are coming. 413-544-8980. Join us.
The Belanger-Bullard Funeral Home, 51 Marcy St., Southbridge, is directing arrangements. An online guestbook for Tony is available at www.BelangerFuneralHome.com.