The Edmund A. Schofield Collection Finding Aid

An Overview of the Collection

These files contain more than fifty years’ worth of research by Edmund A. Schofield, Jr. Major foci are Henry D. Thoreau, his connection to Worcester and its people, and the intricacies of the Walden Woods ecosystem. Schofield’s participation and membership in a variety of Thoreau- and Walden-related organizations is well represented. Drafts and finished pieces of Schofield writings are filed by subject matter. The process of publication for the books Words for Nature, Thoreau’s World and Ours, Heaven is Under our Feet, and Faith in a Seed are also detailed.

  • I. Thoreau Research Files (181 files) (PDF)
    • A variety of research files, all related in some way to selected works or activities of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). Schofield spent time researching casual references in Thoreau’s journals or writings, proving or expanding upon those incidents through historical or scientific digging. Included here is background information about the storm of 23 August 1845 (as mentioned in the “Baker Farm” chapter of Walden); the particulars of Thoreau’s burnt woods accident; the origins of Thoreau’s fatal illness; the Great Snow of 1717 (as mentioned in the “Winter Visitors” chapter of Walden); the Cold Friday of 1810; Thoreau’s 1861 Journey West and his proximity to John Muir in Madison, Wis.; the true source of light on the luminous night recorded in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers; Thoreau’s attitude toward Native Americans; and the exact location of Thoreau’s beanfield. Only a few of these initiatives resulted in published articles.
  • II. The Thoreau and Darwin Connection (146 files) (PDF)
    • Includes research covering the release and content of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and the book’s influence on Thoreau’s theories of tree succession and dispersion of seeds. Contains biographical files of key scientists of that era, including some men whose works Thoreau read or consulted. Expands to include contemporary articles and opinions about evolution, dispersion, and succession. Culminates in a Schofield lecture, numerous essays and articles, and the process of publishing Thoreau’s “Dispersion of Seeds” as the book Faith in a Seed.
  • III. John Muir and the Thoreau-Muir Connection (117 files) (PDF)
    • Research covering John Muir’s life and personal interactions, with a special focus on his time spent in Indianapolis. This research led to the realization that Thoreau and Muir were within miles of each other on 27 June 1861. Culminates in Schofield lectures at Muir conferences in California in 1985 and 1990; in an extensive article for the Pacific Historian in 1985; and in the idea of someday publishing a Muir-Thoreau book.
  • IV. The Thoreau and Worcester Connection (112 files) (PDF)
    • Research covering Thoreau’s visits to Worcester, his lectures in the city, and his encounters and friendships with its residents. Includes biographical details of Harrison Gray Otis Blake, John Brown, Theophilus Brown, John Downes, Benjamin Dexter Maxham, and Elias Harlow Russell. Includes the transactions of the transfer of ownership of Thoreau’s journals from Sophia Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake and then to E. Harlow Russell. Identifies the elusive “Worcester ministers” who wrote to Thoreau for camping equipment advice in 1861. Resulting publications include various newspaper articles, two lengthy essays about Russell in the Concord Saunterer in 1984, an article about John Downes and Theo Brown in the Thoreau Society Bulletin in 1983, and the emergence of Schofield’s personal walking tours and lectures about Thoreau’s Worcester. Includes the plan of someday publishing a book-length biography of Benjamin Dexter Maxham and possibly one as well on John Downes. Includes notes and the text of the introduction Schofield gave at Worcester’s commemoration of the John Brown anniversary in 2009.
  • V. Thoreau- and Walden-Related Organizations (212 files) (PDF)
    • Details regarding the numerous organizations that Schofield was interested in or participated in, either as a member or an official. Groups include:
    • Friends of Thoreau Country
    • Thoreau Country Conservation Alliance
    • Thoreau Fellowship
    • Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods
    • Thoreau Lyceum
    • The Thoreau Society
    • Thoreau World Center
    • Walden Forever Wild
    • The Walden Woods Project
    • The Thoreau Society files document the planning and implementation of the 1991 Jubilee celebration as well as the compilation and publication of the conference book, Thoreau’s World and Ours. The TCCA and WWP sections document Don Henley’s introduction into the campaign to save Walden Woods from two development projects. The WWP files also cover the publication process for the book Heaven is Under our Feet.
  • VI. Schofield Contemporaries and Correspondence (173 files) (PDF)
    • A variety of files containing information about or by Schofield’s friends, acquaintances, or contemporaries. Includes Schofield’s 37-year correspondence trail with Thoreau Society founder and long-time Secretary Walter Harding (1917-1996); as well as Schofield’s extensive 27-year letter exchange with forester and Walden activist Mary Sherwood (1906-2001). Includes the notes and texts of Schofield’s memorial obituary in The Concord Journal for Harding in 1996 and the Sherwood-authored feature for Arnoldia in 1986.
  • VII. Walden Woods Ecosystem I (177 files) (PDF)
    • A series of files dealing with the Walden Woods Ecosystem, focusing on ecology, natural disasters, hydrology, geology, and maps.
  • VIII. Walden Woods Ecosystem II (191 files) (PDF)
    • A continuation of the Walden Ecosystem files, focusing on maps, reports, natural history, controversial issues and challenges, and news clippings from throughout the decades.
  • IX. Weather Data (296 files) (PDF)
    • Collections of historical meteorological readings or details about their sources, mostly from the regions of New England and New York. Compiled by Schofield to aid in his research efforts, especially regarding the circumstances surrounding Thoreau’s “Fatal Illness” (10 December 1860) his “Burnt Woods” (30 April 1844), and the “Luminous Night” (September 1839, A Week). Includes biographical information about some of the historical observers themselves. More information about the “Fatal Illness,” the “Burnt Woods,” and the “Luminous Night” can be found in the Thoreau Research Files portion of the Schofield collection. Schofield notes found here are most often about the weather of 10 December 1860 in various locales, unless otherwise marked.
  • X. Worcester (414 files) (PDF)
    • Information about the people, history, and sites of the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, Schofield’s hometown. [The separate section of files designated “Thoreau in Worcester” contains that specialty focus (which includes biographical details about H.G.O. Blake, Theo Brown, John Brown, Benjamin D. Maxham and E. Harlow Russell). Slight or non-Thoreauvian connections are filed here instead.] Special Schofield interests included writers from Worcester and people of color who lived in the city historically, including former slaves. Extra special attention is given to Worcester teachers Dorothy Salter and Anna Shaughnessy, as well as the latter’s eventual famous writer students.
  • XI. Massachusetts (168 files) (PDF)
    • A variety of brochures and information pieces about Massachusetts sites and peoples. Includes extensive files about Poutwater Pond in Holden and the New England Normal Institute of Lancaster. Includes files about local Native Americans, especially the Nipmucks. A special focus is on George Washington Sears, who wrote under the pseudonym “Nessmuk.” Also includes Abolition files about particular individuals in the region. Detailed research was done on the Native Americans known as “Sepit” and the African American Leo L. Lloyd, all of whom Schofield believed had met Henry David Thoreau.
  • XII. Science, Religion, and Philosophy (111 files) (PDF)
    • General information files on a variety of topics, most with little or no direct correspondence to Thoreau, Concord, Walden Pond, or John Muir.
  • XIII. Personal Files (67 files) (PDF)
    • Information files of a personal nature relating to Edmund A. Schofield. Topics include Antarctica, employment history (including resumes), his writings and materials relating to instances of him teaching.
  • XIV. Miscellaneous Files (37 files) (PDF)
    • This section includes correspondence as well as documents and papers not otherwise classifiable within the greater Schofield Collection.
  • XV. Ecologist’s Walden (9 binders, 3 folders) (PDF)
    • This section is comprised of materials related to Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden in relation to its relevance to ecologists. It appears to be a full course, contained in notebooks, which follows the chapters of Walden.
  • XVI. Nonprint and Oversize Items
    • Maps and Overize Items (50 files) (PDF)
      • Oversize maps, as well as oversize aerial photography and posters.
    • Realia (PDF)
      • Realia I (18 folders): Materials which were unable to be filed within the Schofield Collection due to shape, size or format.
      • Realia II (19 folders): Media materials (microfilm, magnetic recording tape, and slide as well as digital materials such as SD memory card), floppy discs, CDs, and DVDs, etc.) from within the Schofield Collection.
      • Realia III (5 folders): Materials which were unable to be filed within the Schofield Collection due to shape or size. Includes a copy of Mary Sherwood’s autobiography, Sister of the Old Wild, as well as legal-size Schofield files.
    • Slides (PDF)
      • (7 boxes containing 1844 slides): Schofield slides from Antarctica and various places in the United States and Canada, including the Walden Pond area in Massachusetts.
  • XVII. Digital Files (5283 files) (PDF)
    • Digital files housed on the Thoreau Institute server, acquired from Schofield’s USB devices and other media devices. Includes electronic versions of many of his photographic slides.