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Jim Kruse Collection of Lincoln Steffens Photographs
K78  
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Description
Photograph collection of journalist Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936), author Ella Winter (1898-1980), their son Pete Steffens (1924-2012), screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart (1894-1980), and their friends and family. Steffens was a muckraking journalist who specialized in investigating government and political corruption. He covered the Mexican Revolution in 1914-1915, and spent time in Russia in 1919. Steffens moved to Europe in the 1920s, where he met Ella Winter. Winter was a political science student who went on to become an author and liberal activist. Winter and Steffens married in 1924 and moved to Italy, where their son, Peter, was born in San Remo in 1924. The family moved to Carmel, CA, in 1926, where Winter continued her political activism and Steffens raised Pete and wrote his autobiography. They remained in Carmel until Steffens' death in 1936. In 1939, Winter married the screenwriter and humorist Donald Ogden Stewart. They lived in California, New York and then in Hampstead, London. Winter wrote her first book, Red Virtue, after visiting the Soviet Union and her autobiography, And Not to Yield, was published in 1963.
Background
Joseph Lincoln Steffens was born April 6, 1866, in San Francisco. He grew up in a wealthy family and attended a military academy. He studied in France and Germany after graduating from the University of California. While in Germany in 1901 he met and secretly married American student Josephine Bontencou. Steffens began his career as a journalist at the New York Evening Post. He later became an editor of McClure's magazine, where he became part of a celebrated muckraking trio, along with Ida Tarbell and Ray Stannard Baker. He specialized in investigating government and political corruption, and two collections of his articles were published as The Shame of the Cities (1902) and The Struggle for Self-Government (1906). He also wrote The Traitor State, which criticized New Jersey for patronizing incorporation. In 1906, he left McClure's, along with Tarbell and Baker, to form The American Magazine. In The Shame of the Cities, Steffens sought to bring about political reform in urban America by appealing to the emotions of Americans. He tried to provoke outrage with examples of corrupt governments throughout urban America. From 1914–1915 he covered the Mexican Revolution and began to see revolution as preferable to reform. While he was covering the revolution his wife died. In March 1919, he accompanied William C. Bullitt, a low-level State Department official, on a three-week visit to the Soviet Union and witnessed the "confusing and difficult" process of a society in the process of revolutionary change. Steffens had little support in the U.S. in the 1920’s. He moved to Europe; in London he fell in love with a political science and economics student more than thirty years his junior, Ella Winter. They married when they discovered Winter was expecting Steffens’ child. Later they divorced, claiming their relationship meant more without legal ties, but remained together until Steffens’ death. Steffens wrote about fatherhood; Winters worked outside the home while her husband essentially took care of the boy. Steffens realized he might not live to see his son in adulthood, so he began writing his autobiography. The autobiography went on to become a bestseller and is considered one of the greatest American autobiographies ever. This led to a short return to prominence for the writer, but Steffens would not be able to capitalize on it as illness cut his lecture tour of America short by 1933. He was a member of the California Writers Project, a New Deal program. He died of heart failure on August 9, 1936, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Leonore (Ella) Sophie Winter Steffens Stewart born March 17, 1898. Her parents Freda Lust and Adolph Wertheimer of Nuremberg, Germany, changed their name to “Winter” around 1910. They lived in London, Melbourne, Australia and again in London and had three children: Rudolph, Rosa and Ella who were born in Melbourne. Ella studied at the London School of Economics in England. She met the U.S. journalist and 'muckraker' Lincoln Steffens at the Versailles Conference, where she was secretary to US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. Winter and Steffens married in 1924 and moved to Italy, where their son, Peter, was born in San Remo in November of 1924. Two years later, Winter and Steffens settled in Carmel, California, where their friends and neighbors included photographer Edward Weston, poet Robinson Jeffers, philosopher/mythologist Joseph Campbell, dancer/choreographer Jean Erdman, nutritionist/author Adelle Davis, poet George Sterling, short story writer/poet Clark Ashton Smith, marine biologist/ecologist Ed Ricketts and novelists John Steinbeck, and Henry Miller. Known as a radical activist, Winter fought to relieve the plight of migrant workers and was adamantly opposed to the rise of terrorism and political violence. In 1931 she made the first of her two trips to the Soviet Union. After the death of Lincoln Steffens in 1936, Winter married the screenwriter and humorist Donald Ogden Stewart in 1939, and became stepmother to his sons, Donald and Ames. They lived in California and then in Hampstead, London. Winter wrote her first book, Red Virtue, after visiting the Soviet Union and her autobiography, And Not to Yield, was published in 1963. She died August 5, 1980 in England. Donald Ogden Stewart was born November 30, 1894 in Columbus, Ohio. After graduating from Yale in 1916, he attempted a career in business. He began his literary career in the 1920’s as a magazine writer and novelist best known for his parodies of social etiquette and middle-class values. As a member of an elite group of writers in New York City during this time, which included Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, he participated in the famous daily “Algonquin Round Table” discussions. In 1926 he married Beatrice Ames and they had two children, Ames and Donald Jr. He left for Hollywood in the 1930’s, as did many of his contemporaries, and became a successful screenwriter, ultimately winning an Academy Award in 1940 for his screenplay for The Philadelphia Story. He divorced Beatrice in 1938 and in 1939 married Ella Winter Steffens. Because of his membership in the Communist Party in the 1930’s, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, and soon found himself unemployed. Forced to leave the country in 1951, he relocated to England where he remained until his death August 2, 1980. Pete Steffens was born November 21, 1924 in San Remo, Italy. He was the only child of journalist Lincoln Steffens and writer Ella Winter. His parents married only three months prior to his birth, a nod to social convention they would defy five years later by divorcing, though continuing to live under the same roof. His mother was 32 years younger than his father. The Steffens family lived in Italy, Switzerland and France for two years before they settled in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Pete was photographed by Edward Weston and sculpted by Jo Davidson. The poet Langston Hughes joined him in his sandbox and one of his childhood playmates was Ernest Hemingway’s son Jack. Another frequent guest to the Steffens home was John Steinbeck. Pete was educated at Harvard University and Balliol College, where he competed on the rowing team. He qualified for the Italian Olympic team before returning to the United States to serve in the Navy during World War II. Steffens was fluent in eight languages, including Russian, Czech, Italian, and Greek, and made his journalistic mark working for Reuters in London and the Middle East, for TIME magazine and other publications. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, while reporting on Israel and Jordan for TIME, he met Israeli radio reporter Ella, but when they decided to marry, they ran into the obstacle of interfaith marriage. While going through family documents it was discovered that Steffen’s mother Ella Winter was Jewish which cleared the bureaucratic hurdles. They had two children, Daneet and Sivan, but the marriage eventually ended in divorce. Returning to the United States, Steffens taught journalism at UC Berkeley and embraced the Free Speech Movement. In the early 1970’s he returned to Israel to research the early-Hebrew language press and to serve as literary editor of the New Outlook magazine. He taught journalism at Western Washington University, in Bellingham, WA for 27 years, with special focus on journalism education for young Native Americans. Steffens and his second wife Valerie Alia, a writer and academic, moved to Vancouver Island in 2008 after a decade in Great Britain. He died August 23, 2012.
Extent
4 archival boxes
Restrictions
The Henry Meade Local History Department, Harrison Memorial Library does not hold copyright to these items. Permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder by the user.
Availability
Materials are open for research.