The Douglas and Dorothy Steere papers, 1889 to 2003, are the records of their contributions to the Quaker Movement. The collection is divided into two series for Douglas V. Steere and Dorothy M. Steere. The collection is largely comprised of correspondence, papers, notes, notebooks, journals, travel documents, and writings. In addition, there are photographs and other graphics, as well as audio cassettes. Researchers interested in Quaker philosophy should look to the “Writings by Douglas Steere” and “Notebooks, Diaries, and Journals” subseries as they contain material that eventually became publications by Steere. There is also a strong assortment of material related to Quaker missions in the wake of World War II, which can be found in the “Relief Work” subseries.
The “Douglas V. Steere” series is divided into twelve subseries: “Biographical Material;” “Writings by Douglas Steere;” “Collected Writings by Others;” “Correspondence;” “Notes;” “Notebooks, Diaries, and Journals;” “Relief Work;” “Organizational Materials;” “Conferences and Retreats;” “Travel;” “Photographs and other graphics;” and “Media.”
The first subseries, “Biographical Material,” includes “Personal Documents,” “Education” and “Professional Materials” such as his 1924 Rhodes Scholarship Application. “Family Materials” include the Steere family tree and genealogy. Included in “Memorabilia” are materials from 1901 through 1955, such as Douglas and Dorothy’s wedding invitation, and his World War II ration books. “Awards and honorary degrees” include his Lawrence College (1950), Earlham College (1965), and Oberlin College (1954) Honorary degrees, as well as his 1981 Upper Room Citation and Finnish Decoration which was awarded in 1987. Before beginning in-depth research of this collection, a researcher may wish to review the “Bibliography” subseries which contains a list of his book, articles, publications, addresses, lectures, and professional history.
Following “Biographical Material” are “Writings by Douglas Steere.” Within this subseries are his writings including: “Autobiography;” “Books;” “Addresses;” “Lectures, Lectures and/or Addresses;” “Articles,” “Papers” (as student and as professor), “Assorted Writings,” “Books Reviews;” and “Index of Writings.” The sub-subseries “Lectures and/or Addresses” is comprised of either lectures or addresses which processors could not define absolutely as one or the other. “Autobiography” is composed of 671 typed draft pages for his autobiography (unpublished), as well as his handwritten notes from before 1950 through 1988. Within the “Books” subseries are his manuscripts and notes for God’s Irregular: Arthur Shearly Cripps, circa 1972, Dimensions of Prayer, Together in Solitude, and others. The subseries “Books” also includes his 1931 Harvard dissertation typescript, “Critical Realism in the Religious Philosophy of Baron Friedrich Von Hugel.” Also of note is Søren Kierkegaard’s Purity of Heart translated by Steere and Quaker Spirituality, edited by Douglas Steere and published in 1984. The three sub-subseries of “Addresses,” “Lectures,” and “Lectures and/or Addresses” by Steere are arranged either alphabetically by title or chronologically. “Articles” consists of published work from 1928 through 1990, and includes titles such as “Quaker Formation” and “The Outer and Inner Need of Our Time.” In “Papers” and “Assorted Writings,” are his writings as student and as philosopher.
In “Collected Writings by Others,” are works Douglas Steere collected throughout his life. These materials are separated into three categories: “About Douglas Steere;” “Annotated by Douglas Steere (not about Douglas Steere);” and “Not Annotated by Douglas Steere (not about Douglas Steere).” “Writings about Douglas Steere” include “An Intellectual Profile” by Paul Kuntz and “Douglas V. Steere: Irradiator of the Beams of Love” by E. Glenn Hinson, as well as many others. In addition, are reviews of his “On Beginning from Within” from 1944 and 1945 and “On Listening to Another & On Beginning from Within” when published together, during the 1950s and 1960s.
Steere's “Correspondence” subseries includes letters to friends, family, and colleagues between 1925 and 1984. Also included are family letters, collected by Steere, written to his father Edward, mother Ruby, and Aunt Inez dating from 1896. Letters exchanged between Douglas and Dorothy Steere from 1926 to 1927, many of which are romantic in nature, document not only their thoughts on Quakerism and their work, but their relationship which lasted for sixty-five years. Additionally, there are several dozen letters written and received by him while at Oxford, England and elsewhere in Europe from the 1920s to 1930s. The largest portions of the “Correspondence” subseries, and indeed the collection, are letters received by Douglas Steere, predominately organized alphabetically by last name. These are followed by letters organized alphabetically by first name (the last names were not provided or could not be identified), and finally those letters which did not include identifiable names.
Included under the subseries of “Notes” and “Notebooks, Diaries, and Journals” are Douglas Steere’s notes as a student, professor, philosopher, and speaker. There is a selection of the syllabi he saved from classes he attended and taught, his notes on many influential western philosophers, and his prepared materials for talks given.
Steere’s relief and reconstruction efforts are represented in the subseries “Relief and Reconstruction,” which document his work during trips to Finland, South Africa, Germany and the Second Vatican Counsel in Italy. Within the “Organizations” subseries are materials pertaining to the many organizations to which he belonged and contributed, organized alphabetically by title.
The “Conference and Retreats” subseries documents his role in facilitating Quaker retreats (in particular, Kirkridge and Pendle Hill), as well as material he collected from these efforts. His “Travel” materials contain his travel letters, as well as notes and reports he wrote while abroad. Following this series, there are photographs of him and his family, as well as some artwork (labeled “Other graphics”) he collected throughout his life. There are also some cassette tapes of Douglas Steere, Dr. Wesley Hager, Dr. Glenn Hinson, and Thomas Merton speaking.
The Dorothy M. Steere series contains nine subseries: “Biographical;” “Writings by Dorothy Steere;” “Collected writings by others;” “Correspondence;” “Civil Rights materials;” “Retreat materials;” “Notebooks and journals;” “Photographs of Dorothy Steere and family;” and “Media.” Dorothy Steere was heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement, and researchers interested in the Quaker involvement in this issue would be well served looking through the “Civil Rights” subseries.
Her “Biographical” material includes her childhood writings, high school and college memorabilia, and notes on her 90th and 95th birthdays.
Her “Writings” include notes on talks given, and copies of several essays she published in Inward Light, Friendly Woman, and The Friend. Under “Collected writings” are publications she collected which were written by her daughters, Helen and Anne, as well as publications (newspaper clippings and articles) related to women’s issues and various Quaker movements. Her correspondence includes letters received from her childhood until 2003, and include sympathy cards received after Douglas Steere’s death, as well as sympathy cards the Steere family received following Dorothy Steere’s death. Also within this subseries are her letters to Douglas Steere from 1927-1942.
Her involvement in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s through 1970s is documented in the “Civil Rights” subseries, which contains clippings (including the front page of an Asheville, NC newspaper the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot), programs, pamphlets, and other illustrated depictions related to the movement. Also in this subseries is her correspondence with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 1956-1958.
Dorothy Steere’s collection also includes collected materials from Quaker retreats attended, her notebooks detailing her professional and personal experiences beginning in the 1910s, photographs of the Steere family, and a cassette tape of a memorial meeting held by the Radnor Meeting following the death of Dorothy Steere.
*A newspaper from April 15, 1865, the day after Lincoln was shot was removed from the collection and placed with historical newspapers in Special Collections.