I found an online photograph of Lovecraft’s friend and correspondent Henry S. Whitehead…

Whitehead

I’ve also found out that Whitehead had two aspects of his career which would have interested Lovecraft. 1) He had worked in an area of New York known to Lovecraft, and had there worked with immigrants, and so would have been able to compare experiences with Lovecraft about ‘the pest zone’. 2) He had also been a “chaplain for the Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane”.

I here go through his early church career in chronological order, based on a quick dash through the online archives now available:

His Columbia University alumni news magazine (Vol.13, 1921/1922, p.6) reported…

   [Graduates of 19]”’04 — Henry St. Clair Whitehead, formerly rector of Christ Church of Middletown [South Farms, c.1914-1917], Connecticut, and also chaplain for the Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane, is now located at 28 Brimmer Street, Boston, Massachusetts.”

After Middletown he moved to New York. He was on a list of newly appointed curates 1916-17, his appointment being to St. Mary the Virgin from Nov 1st 1917. The publications of his church show…

   “Rev. Henry S. Whitehead is Pastor of the Children, Church of S. Mary the Virgin, New York City” (The American Church Monthly, Vol.5, Mar-Aug 1919, p.926). “Rev. Henry S. Whitehead is on the staff of the Church of S. Mary the Virgin in New York, and is an authority on pastoral work. In his article on “Work Among Foreigners” he shows why the Episcopal Church is especially well adapted to undertake this work.” (The New American Church Monthly, Vol.4 No.4, Dec 1918, p.274).

In New York he was living at 144 West 47th St. (co-incidentally not that far from Everett McNeil then at 543 West 49th St., and with probably the same predominately Irish population). His connection with St. Mary the Virgin was dissolved sometime between late 1919 and May 1920, according to the Annual Convention journal of his church. He was then attached to the Diocese of Massachusetts, living at 28 Brimmer Street, Boston until he was shipped out to be… “acting archdeacon of the Virgin Islands from 1921 to 1929.” He then went to Florida — a news item reports on a children’s Halloween Party of welcome for the “new rector” at Dunedin (St. Petersberg Times, 10th Nov 1929).

So when had he been… “chaplain for the Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane [at Middleton]”? He started his church career in 1912, after graduating from the Berkeley Divinity School at Middletown. So his stint in the madhouse was either 1912-1914, or else was an additional duty undertaken while serving as rector at South Farms, Middletown. Whitehead later refers in fiction to this period, in his (Lovecraft revision?) story “Bothon”…

“It happened while I was chief intern in the Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane. I served there for two years under Dr. Floyd Haviland before I went into private practice.” (“Bothon”).

In I am Providence (pp.845-846) S.T. Joshi discusses theories that “Bothon” was not written by Whitehead, but by Derleth from a Lovecraft plot outline. But the apparently autobiographical use of the “Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane” may suggest otherwise, as I’m not sure Derleth would have bothered to slip in such an obscure detail from Whitehead’s early career. On the other hand, the setting may have been in the original outline, decided on in consultation with Whitehead.


There has also been some controversy about Whitehead’s claim to have graduated from Harvard. I have found that “Whitehead, Henry S” appears in the Harvard Club of New York City members’ book from 1912 through to 1920. He is listed as of the class of 1904, the same year when — according to his alumni magazine — he also graduated from Columbia. Yet he is listed in the Harvard College Class of 1904 book under Special Students and Affiliated Members, with a ‘b’ next to his name which indicates he withdrew at the end of the Sophmore Year — so I assume he must have transferred to Columbia for his final year? The Harvard College Class of 1904 (first report) book also gives his full name: “Henry St. Clair McMillin Whitehead”. The Harvard College Class of 1904 (second report) book gives his own account of his career from 1904 to undertaking his religious training in 1909…

whitehead-early

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