A Guide to the Winston M. Scott Papers, 1941-1971, 2008
Winston Mackinley Scott (1909-1971) was born in Jemison, Alabama. He attended the University of Alabama before obtaining his Ph.D. in algebra from the University of Michigan, and taught mathematics for 6 years while in school. After publishing an article on the use of matrices in coded communication, he was approached by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about applying for a job.
Scott joined the FBI on 17 March 1941. Originally assigned to the Cryptography Section, Scott told J. Edgar Hoover that he wanted to be a Special Agent. He was sent to Pittsburgh where he was given instructions to spy on the local German population and possible Nazi sympathizers. In February 1943 Scott was loaned out to the U.S. embassy in Cuba. When he returned to Washington, he was recruited to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and sent to London. On 5 September 1944, he was appointed chief of the Germany section of X-2.
After WWII, the Office of Strategic Services was renamed the Strategic Services Unit (SSU) and. in 1947 this evolved into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Scott was appointed as the agency’s first station chief in London, then promoted to chief of the Western European division of the Office of Special Operations in 1950. He oversaw all espionage operations collecting intelligence in West Germany, France, and Britain. In 1955 Scott was appointed as the CIA’s section chief in Mexico and took up the appointment in August 1956.
As section chief, Scott was politically motivated in his support for the far right in Mexico. He believed that it was justified to support military dictatorships in order to prevent the left from gaining power in Mexico and other countries in the region. Beginning in December 1958, he initiated operation LITEMPO, a network of paid agents and collaborators, which included current Mexican President Adolfo Lopez Mateos (Mexican 1958-1964), future presidents Diaz Ordaz (1964-1970) and Luis Echeverria (1970-1976), and the politician Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios. The CIA also arranged for taps on the phones used by political rivals such as former president Lazaro Cardenas (1934-1940) and Mexican labor leader Vicente Lombardo Toledano.
Over the course of his career as section chief, Scott was involved in events such as the investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald’s presence in Mexico City in September 1963, prior to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and Oswald’s potential ties to Cuba, as well as the Tlatelolco Massacre on October 2, 1968. After retiring in 1969, Scott wrote a memoir about his time in the FBI, OSS and the CIA. He completed the manuscript, “It Came To Little”, and made plans to discuss the contents of the book with CIA director, Richard Helms, in Washington on 30 April 1971. Scott told John Horton, the chief of the CIA station in Mexico City, that he would not be talked out of publishing the book. Winston Scott died on 26 April 1971.
Upon his death, the CIA confiscated Scott’s manuscript and three large cartons of files including a tape-recording of the voice of Lee Harvey Oswald. Scott’s son Michael was eventually able to get his father's manuscript back from the CIA thanks to a lawsuit in the 1990s. However, everything about Winston Scott’s life after 1947 had been removed on grounds of national security.
Sources: Jefferson Morley, Our Man in Mexico, 2008.
Correspondence, photographs, original manuscripts, books, and artifacts comprise the Winston M. Scott Papers. Materials related to Scott’s career with the FBI and CIA include his FBI file and related letters, a publisher’s galley of Our Man in Mexico (2008), a book written about Scott’s life; the manuscript of Scott’s personal memoir “It Came to Little” with CIA redactions, and autographed photos of Mexican Presidents Diaz Ordaz and Lopez Mateos. Also included is a 16mm film of Scott’s wedding to his third wife Janet Leddy with Mexican President Lopez Mateos and future president Diaz Ordaz acting as witnesses.
Correspondence is between Scott and his second wife Paula Murray Scott, while other printed material includes documents and a math workbook related to Scott’s thesis for his PhD in Mathematics and other scholarly publications, class notebooks from courses taught by Scott at the University of Alabama, and several drafts of an original short story. Books from Scott’s personal collection have been separated to the Library Unit while artifacts such as Scott’s Underwood typewriter have been placed in the Artifacts Collection.
This collection is open for research use.
Use of video material by appointment only; please contact repository for more information.
Winston M. Scott Papers, 1941-1971, 2008, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Stefanie Lapka, February 2013.
Detailed Description of the Papers