Scott has had a lifelong love affair with history.
An interest in colonial history, old houses, preservation, and the American Revolution helped lead him to North Carolina in the 1980s, where he and his wife restored an antebellum house in Salisbury and Scott began working in his spare time as a public historian—first at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, then at the Moravian town of Old Salem. This work primarily involved researching the history of landscapes and buildings for archaeologists and architectural historians. His main, years-long project at Old Salem entailed researching the history of a black Moravian congregation, which worshiped in an 1861 brick church. When Old Salem was ready to restore the church, Scott did the historical investigation that helped the architects restore the structure to its 1920s appearance and that aided the curators as they prepared an interpretation of the site.
This hands-on fieldwork in public history has been supplemented by years of classroom study. Scott earned a B.A. in history and journalism at Syracuse University, an M.A. in history at the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in American history at Virginia. At the University of Virginia, Scott's main field of study was early American history, but his research at Old Salem—along with his ancestors’ Mennonite roots—led him to make religious history a subfield. When it came time to write a dissertation in the mid-1990s, Scott decided to do research on the Moravians’ backcountry settlements in North Carolina. The dissertation, in turn, became Hope’s Promise—Scott’s first book, published by the University of Alabama Press in 2005.
When not writing history, Scott works at CQ Researcher in Washington, D.C., where he is an assistant managing editor. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Anne, an editor at The Washington Post, and son, Josh, a social worker.
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