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Walter Keeler Scofield papers

Call Number: MS 437

Scope and Contents

The Walter Keeler Scofield Papers consist of correspondence, military papers, Civil War diaries and medical memorandum books, journals kept during cruises to Europe,Asia, and South America, scrapbooks and photographs, and other miscellaneous papers.

The correspondence is largely that of Scofield to his parents, siblings, and wife and children during his various voyages with the United States Navy. Approximately half of the letters date from the Civil War and discuss Scofield's experience as a naval surgeon with the Union blockade off of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, describing his quarters both in Navy hospitals and aboard the "Sagamore" and other vessels, his everyday life aboard ship, and the climate and inhabitants of the southern states off of which he was stationed. Both of Scofield's brothers were also in the Navy, and there is some correspondence with John, who was also with the naval hospital, and with George, who was stationed in California for the duration of the war (see folders 12 a-b). Walter Scofield's letters from after the war describe voyages to England, Russia, and Germany in 1866 (his brother John accompanied him on this voyage; his letters are to be found in folder 12 a), to South America via the West Coast of Africa in 1887, and his return to the United States via the Mediterranean in 1888-1889. These letters offer descriptions of the countries visited, of life aboard ship during lengthy voyages, and they express Scofield's homesickness for his family. His letters conclude with a series written from Stamford, Connecticut, to his daughter, who was staying with relatives in Florida in 1893-1894, and describe social and family events.

Complementing Scofield's Civil War letters are his diaries for 1861-1864 and medical memorandum books for 1863-1864. The latter detail patients' symptoms and treatment, and contain as well short diary entries and accounts. The diaries themselves also comment on patients and medical procedures, and the health of the men aboard ship. Interspersed are descriptions of areas visited during the blockade, some accompanied by sketches of scenery and other ships; notes on Scofield's finances and on his continual study of medicine and other sciences; accounts of shipboard life, several courts martial, hunting and fishing along the Florida coast, and military activities such as seizures of blockade runners, skirmishes with Rebel troops ashore, and attacks on Tampa and other sites in Florida.

Scofield's military papers consist of orders, correspondence, and some printed matter dealing with his career as a naval surgeon. Among the documents are a number signed by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, one by Acting Secretary Theodore Roosevelt (1897 Sep 30), and a variety of other government officials.

Aside from a few notes on medical lectures, and miscellaneous papers relating to his family, the remainder of Scofield's papers are journals, logs, scrapbooks, and books of drawings and photographs from his cruises. Included are journals of a cruise to the West Indies and then to Europe on a good-will mission to Russia, 1866-1867, and a scrapbook of clippings, letters, and memorabilia pasted into a Russian copy of Moscow: A Detailed Historical andArchaeological Description of the City, by I. M. Snegirevii (1865); a log kept aboard the U.S.S. "Lackawanna" during a cruise to China and Japan in 1872-1875 and a sketch book from the same voyage; and a photograph album of famous people and places in Europe.

These papers were donated to Yale University by Edward A. Scofield between 1953-1962. The diaries and medical memorandum books were transferred to Manuscripts and Archives from the Historical Medical Library in 1983.


  • 1859-1910


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Edward C. Scofield, 1953-1962 and transferred from the Historical Medical Library, Yale University, 1983.


1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, diaries, journals, scrapbooks, photographs and miscellanea relating to Walter Keeler Scofield's career as naval surgeon during the Civil War and his later voyages to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the West Indies.

Biographical / Historical

Graduated from Columbia in 1861; commissioned into the Navy in 1862, and served during the Civil War as a physician and surgeon; after the war was on the staff of the naval hospital in Norfolk, Va.; was stationed in China, Japan, South America, Africa, and Europe; in 1895 transferred to headquarters in Philadelphia and served there until his retirement.

Guide to the Walter Keeler Scofield Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Betsy Morris and Janet Elaine Gertz
February 1980
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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