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Ernest Clark Steele diaries
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ernest Clark Steele diaries
    Inclusive Dates: 1915-1967
    Collection Number: mssSteele
    Creator: Steele, Ernest Clark
    Extent: 53 diaries in 12 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
    Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The Ernest Clark Steele diaries span the years 1915 through 1967 and relate to his life and career as a teacher in Los Angeles, California.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    Ernest Clark Steele diaries, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Ernest Clark Steele, August 1963.


    Ernest Clark Steele was a secondary school teacher. He was born in Miracle Run, West Virginia, on October 21, 1900. He was the son of Joseph Ira and Margaret Jane (Tennant) Steele. He earned his B.A. from West Virginia University in 1926 and M.A. from University of California, Berkeley in 1931.
    Steele married Edna Myrtle Mayhew on December 19, 1930. The couple had one son: Richard Ernest Hampden Steele born in Pasadena, California, on September 5, 1939.

    Scope and Content

    Ernest Clark Steele begins his diaries as a student at Daybrook High School in Monogalia County, West Virginia. The entries from 1915 through 1918 are primarily short remarks about his location (whether he's at home or school) and the weather. His entries become lengthier with a bit more details about his daily activities after he enters West Virginia University. In addition to entries about his early years as a principal at Oceana and teacher at Pineville, he writes about his summertime gig in the Equipment Department of the Swarthmore Chautauqua Association from 1921 through 1927. In August 1927, he enters the University of California, Berkeley. During this period, he writes about his studies, extracurricular activities, and going to church.
    Steele's nearly 30 years career as a teacher in the Los Angeles City Schools begins at Dana Junior High School in September 1928. After 3 1/2 years, he transfers to Belvedere Junior High School in East Los Angeles, where he teaches English and social studies for almost 15 years. By 1943, his discouragement with the school is evident. On October 14th, 1943, he writes, "We are pretty well agreed that the general attitude expressed by pupils is on the decline and that it is likely to get worse before it gets better..." He continues with a radical idea to create another school called the Belvedere Annex, where it would be a "dumping ground...for low mentality and problem children, and for any others who could not profit form the established program which the regular school would have to offer." He ends the entry, "I can already hear squawks of disapproval." Other passages include remarks about faculty meetings, workshops, and lack of interest from his students.
    In addition to entries about work, Steele comments on economics, politics, church, and social activities. Regarding politics, he appears to be a liberal. During one conversation on July 3, 1936, he proposes abandoning "both the Republicans and Democrats - and join some group working in the interests of the common people." He frequently reads The New Republic, The Atlantic, Reporter, Reader's Digest, and listens to the educational radio program Invitation to Learning. Steele also spends a great deal of time on landscaping and gardening at his picturesque home in Pasadena, California. In the early 1950s, he worked as a vocational counselor for the United States Veterans Administration. He does not provide details about the veterans, but merely touches upon their cases: "I had a veteran this morning who wants pilot training...The first I have had for a long time, and they are tough to be approved..." (August 15, 1952).
    After Steele's retirement from the Los Angeles City Schools, he remained active in the program of the Pasadena Area Liberal Arts Center and obtained a Reader's card at the Huntington Library where he read and kept notes on his diaries.
    The diaries from 1915 through 1937 are handwritten and the diaries from 1937 through 1967 are typewritten.


    Arranged chronologically.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Steele, Ernest Clark

    Corporate Names

    Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
    Los Angeles City School District
    Swarthmore Chautauqua Association
    West Virginia University
    United States. Veterans Administration
    University of California, Berkeley


    Education, Secondary
    Vocational guidance
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Public opinion

    Geographic Areas

    Fairmont (W. Va.)
    Los Angeles (Calif.)
    Los Angeles County (Calif.)
    Monongalia County (W. Va.)
    Morgantown (W. Va.)
    Pasadena (Calif.)
    Oceana (W. Va.)
    Wana (W. Va.)