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Steele Family Correspondence: Finding Aid
mssHM 73830-73862  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Materials
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Steele Family Correspondence
    Dates (inclusive): 1853-1903
    Dates (inclusive): 1866-1876
    Collection Number: mssHM 73830-73862
    Creator: Steele family
    Extent: 33 items in 1 box
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The collection includes thirty letters chiefly from the Steele family of Ann Arbor, Michigan, between 1856 and the 1870s, to Ellen Steele Sturges (1837-1930). The letters primarily discuss family news and health, as well as occasional references to cultural and religious life in Ann Arbor. Notably, one letter discusses President Ulysses S. Grant’s unsuccessful bid for a third term.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    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

    [Identification of item]. Steele Family Correspondence, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Mrs. Joanna P. Leonard, January 16, 1948.

    Biographical Note

    The family of minister Ebenezer Steele (October 18, 1808-1900) and Phebe Steele (1819-1910) lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their daughter Julia lived in their household in Ann Arbor until her death on November 11, 1866, of an unknown tuberculosis-like illness. Their son, Valentine, lived in Ann Arbor until the time of his death of an unknown tuberculosis-like illness on June 12, 1874. Another daughter, Ellen (1837-1930), who worked as a school teacher in Michigan, married David B. Sturges, and immigrated with him to Montana Territory sometime between 1856-1866, where they lived in Helena, Virginia City, and Gallatin. Ellen Sturges eventually settled in San Bernardino, California, between 1876 and 1902. The Steeles of Ann Arbor were active in the First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor, and ran a boarding house for students at the University of Michigan, where they often attended events.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains thirty letters chiefly from the Steele family of Ann Arbor, Michigan, between 1856 and the 1870s, to Ellen Steele Sturges (1837-1930). All but one of which are addressed to Ellen (or Ellen and David) Sturges from her immediate family (and one friend, identified only as "Rebecca"). The aberrant letter was written in 1856 to David B. Sturges from Ellen (it is unclear if they were already married at this point). The correspondence contains detailed descriptions of the failing health and treatment of Julia and Valentine Steele in the months leading up to their deaths. There are occasional references to cultural and religious life in Ann Arbor in the letters of the 1866-1876 period, especially regarding the growth of the Methodist Church and the public speeches of Erastus Otis Haven (1863-1869), the second president of the University of Michigan and pastor of the First United Methodist Church. Though politics and national affairs are rarely discussed, HM 73855 includes Phebe Steele's thoughts on President Ulysses S. Grant's unsuccessful bid for a third term. Ebenezer and Phebe Steele express deep anxiety throughout the 1866 correspondence as to their daughter's safety from Indians in Montana, though no specific events are referenced.
    In addition to the correspondence, there is a family record, believed to be in the hand of Phebe Steele, detailing the birth and death dates of the siblings and parents of Ebenezer Steele, as well as a folder containing seven empty envelopes.

    Related Materials


    Items arranged chronologically.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885.
    Steele family.
    Medicine -- Michigan -- 19th century.
    Methodists -- Michigan -- 19th century.
    Respiratory organs -- Diseases.
    Ann Arbor (Mich.)


    Letters (correspondence) Michigan -- 19th century.