While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Barbara L. Green

SCOTT, EMMETT JAY (1873–1957). Emmett Jay Scott, black author, editor, and civic leader, was born in Houston on February 13, 1873, one of four children of Horace L. and Emma (Kyle) Scott. He was raised as a Methodist and attended Wiley College, a Methodist-supported school for blacks, from 1887 to 1890, when he dropped out to give the other members of the family the same educational opportunities he had had. Scott later returned to Wiley and was awarded a master of arts degree in 1901. In 1918 he was awarded an LL.D. by Wiley College and Wilberforce University (Ohio). As a young man, Scott held various jobs, including serving on the staff of the Houston Daily Post between 1891 and 1894. His experience at the Post enabled him to help in founding the Houston Texas Freeman, which he edited from 1894 to 1897. In 1897 Booker T. Washington spoke in Houston at Scott's invitation. That year Scott accepted an invitation from Washington to become his private secretary. The move to Tuskegee marked the beginning of an eighteen-year relationship that lasted until Washington's death in 1915. During these years Scott became Washington's chief adviser, confidant, and even ghostwriter. Scott served as the Tuskegee Institute secretary from 1912 to 1919.

Serving as Washington's secretary paved the way for an outstanding career in public service for Scott. In 1902 Washington used his influence to have Scott appointed secretary of the National Negro Business League, a post he held until 1922. Scott was subsequently appointed a member of the American Commission to Liberia in 1909 by President William H. Taft and secretary to the International Conference on the Negro in 1912. On October 15, 1917, as a result of mounting racial tension and the continued lynching problem, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker appointed Scott his special assistant to urge the equal and impartial application of Selective Service regulations, to improve the morale of black servicemen, and to investigate racial incidents and charges of unfair treatment. After World War I Scott was invited to serve as secretary-treasurer of Howard University; he served in that capacity from 1919 to 1934. During World War II he was personnel director for the Sun Shipbuilding Company in Chester, Pennsylvania. Many black laborers worked in this company's Yard Number Four during World War II. From 1922 until shortly before his death, Scott was active in the Republican party as a campaigner and publicist for Republican national conventions.

He was also a successful writer. His works include Booker T. Washington: Builder of a Civilization (1916), which he coauthored with Lyman Beecher Stowe; Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War (1919); and Negro Migration During the War (1920). Scott was married to Eleanora J. Baker of Houston on April 14, 1897. They were the parents of five children, four of whom survived Scott. On December 11, 1957, Scott died at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C., after a long illness.


John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans (New York: Knopf, 1980). Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856–1901 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972). Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901–1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983). W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift, Encyclopedia of Black America (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981). Emmett Jay Scott Papers, Special Collections, Soper Library, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Barbara L. Green, "SCOTT, EMMETT JAY," accessed August 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsc42.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on November 20, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...