Alva Scott Garfield

(1902–1993)

Born Alva Bennett Scott she married twice, first to James Armistead Mitchell in 1925, and then to Mason Garfield in 1942. She published her first map, A Newe Mapp of Wellesley’ (1926) as Alva Scott Mitchell, with Elizabeth Paige May. Her later maps, known as Scott-Maps”, were signed Alva Scott Garfield. 

The Scott-Maps”, issued from 1949, are a series of colourful and distinctive pictorial maps of New England and New Hampshire, including maps of Harvard, Concord, Boston and Salem. The maps owe as much to their sixteenth and seventeenth century forbears as they do to the early twentieth century maps of Max Gill. 

Originally from Montgomery, Alabama, the Scott family had moved to Washington Square in New York by the 1920 census. Educated at Wellesley College, then Radcliffe College at Harvard, Scott soon married Mitchell and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Always interested in the arts, it seems that Scott had been dabbling in sculpture when it was suggested that she undertake the map of Wellesley. Originally the brainchild of Helen F. McMillin, editor of the Wellesley Alumnae Magazine’, and Elizabeth Shurtleff, who had published their own pictorial Map of the State of New Hampshire’ in June, 1926. Too busy with other projects – i.e. their own map – to carry out their idea themselves, they passed it on to Mrs. Elizabeth Paige May, 24, with the suggestion that she ask Mrs. Mitchell to undertake the map. And so A Newe Mapp of Wellesley’ has made its appearance” (‘Wellesley College News’). Paige and Scott collaborated again soon afterwards on a pictorial map of Wheaton College, in 1929.

During the 1930s Scott taught art at Browne & Nichols in Cambridge, and undertook small commissions, such as the map endpapers for Cornelia Stratton Parker’s autobiography, Wanderer’s Circle’ (1934). In 1949 she returned to map-making with the first of the Scott-Maps”, which was of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.