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Steele-Winters Family Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Steele-Winters

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, photographs and other materials of the Steele-Winters family.

The Winters Family series contains materials of Helen S. Winters, including correspondence, school papers, artwork, and other personal items; Robert U. Winters, Jr. materials including correspondence, diaries, and other personal materials; Winters and related families materials, including correspondence and personal materials from the parents, brothers and sisters, and children of Robert U. Winters, Jr.

The Steele Family series contains materials of Georgia B. Steele including correspondence and personal materials; Steele and related family papers which include materials pertaining primarily to the relatives of Georgia B. Steele, her parents, siblings, and children. This series also contains a significant amount of personal material pertaining to Harold Line's (who was married to Marion Steele) naval service and work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Also of interest is a memoir written by Mildred Anderson, a cousin of Helen Steele's, titled "My Experiences in the Working World" which describes her experiences traveling around the Midwest looking for work during the 1950s.

The Photographs series contains many portraits of Robert U. Winters, Jr., Helen and family; photographs taken by Robert Winters, Jr. while working with the CCC in Wisconsin; snapshots and photos taken by Harold Line during military service and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, family homes and farms, photos of the extended Steele and Winters families, and a photo album compiled by Helen Winters.

The Printed Materials series contains a variety of calendars and greeting cards dating back to the late 19th century, including advertising calendars, Christmas, Easter, and Halloween cards, invitations, place cards, postcard books and Valentine cards which document virtually one hundred years of card history. The series also includes souvenir post cards from Chicago and the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition. The Yearbooks and Scrapbooks series contains yearbooks from high schools and colleges attended by Helen Steele Winters and other family members including Illiopolis High School, Illinois Woman's College. Princeton High School, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Scrapbooks include those made by Georgia B. Steele of greeting cards and clippings, Helen Steele Winters, and other family members. Collection also contains 7 audiocassette tapes of family members reminiscing and singing old songs.


  • Creation: 1860-2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900 - 1970



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Steele-Winters Family Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Conditions Governing Audiovisual Access

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized. Researchers may access materials in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Steele-Winters Family Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of the Steele and Winters Families

Pioneer families who settled and farmed in and around the Bureau County area of Illinois

Forrest G. Steele was born in 1882 in Dover, Illinois, the son of George and Eliza Hensel Steele, both of whose families had homesteaded in northwestern Illinois since the early 1800s. He married Georgia Mae Baker in 1909. Georgia M. Baker was born in 1884 in Tiskilwa, Illinois, to parents Amanda and John Wesley Baker. She attended De Kalb and Northwestern Universities and taught school for many years in the Dover area. After their marriage, Forrest G. and Georgia B. Steele took over the Steele family farm where they raised their children Forrest, Harold, Roger, Marion, and Helen.

Helen Florence Steele was born in 1912. She attended Illinois Woman's College (later McMurray College) for two years, and then transferred to the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana where she received a bachelor's degree. She studied art and later taught art in the Illiopolis school system. She met her future husband Robert U. Winters, Jr. while at the University.

Robert Winters, Jr. also came from a farming family. Born in 1908, his parents were Robert Sr. and Minnie Putnam Winters, of Rosamond, Illinois. Robert Winters, Jr. studied agriculture at UIUC. Robert and Helen Winters married in 1935. Shortly after their marriage Robert Winters found work with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public works program that was part of the New Deal. The Winters resided in Wisconsin at this time, traveling from camp to camp whenever Robert Winters was assigned. After the CCC, Robert Winters worked as a traveling salesman for farm equipment, taught high school agriculture, and over the years purchased and worked several farms in and around Shirland and Illiopolis, Illinois. He also served in the army during WW II, but never went overseas.

Robert and Helen Winters had six children, Raymond, Rosemary, Carol Sue, David, Cindy and Robert III. Robert Winters, Jr. died tragically in a tractor-train collision in 1978, Helen lived until 1999. Many members of their extended families continue to live and farm in northwestern Illinois to the present day.

The Steele-Winters information file, available in Special Collections, also contains an abundance of detailed genealogical information and family history compiled by the family.


17 Linear Feet (39 boxes, 2 oversize boxes)


Correspondence, estate papers, family records, farm related accounts, diaries, cards, scrapbooks, yearbooks, oral histories, and photographs of the Steele and Winters families. Both families were early homesteaders and farmers in rural northwestern Illinois, settling in and around Bureau, Sangamon, and Winnebago Counties in Illinois in the early 1800s. Their extended families continue to live and farm in these areas to the present day.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Winters Family, 1863-2002
Boxes 1-18
Series 2: Steele Family, 1860-2009
Boxes 19-28
Series 3: Photographs, approximately 1880-1975
Box 29
Series 4: Printed Materials, approximately 1880-approximately 1960
Boxes 30-31
Series 5: Yearbooks and Scrapbooks, approximately 1900-1996
Boxes 32-38
Series 6: Audiocassettes, 1978-1999
Box 39

Collection Stack Location

1 36 5-6, 1 43 5


Gift, children of Helen Steele Winters, 2002, and Rosemary Coplan, 2006.

Processed by

Christina A. Reynen, 2006, and Lisa Janssen, 2011.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Steele-Winters Family Papers, 1860-2009, bulk 1900-1970
Christina A. Reynen and Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States