Guide to the Robert D. Steele Westminster College President's correspondence

Table of Contents

Collection Overview

Collection Inventory+/-

Biographical Note/Historical Note

Content Description

Collection Use

Administrative Information


Collection Overview +/-

Title: Robert D. Steele Westminster College President's correspondence
Dates: 1939-1973 (inclusive)
1939-1952 (bulk)
Collection Number: ACC-005A
Summary: This collection contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Robert D. Steele, 5th president of Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah). Steele served as president from 1939-1952. The correspondence documents Steele's wide-range of activities as college president.
Repository: Westminster College, Giovale Library
1840 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
Phone: (801) 832-2250

Collection Inventory +/-

box 1, folder 1: 1939 July - 1940 May
box 1, folder 2: 1940 September - 1944 September
box 1, folder 3: 1944 October - 1945 December
box 1, folder 4: 1946 January-March
box 1, folder 5: 1946 April - 1949 September
box 1, folder 6: 1950 April - 1952 March
box 1, folder 7: 1952 May-June
box 1, folder 8: 1952 June
box 1, folder 9: 1952 June - 1973 August

Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-

Robert Denham Steele was born January 26, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, where he received a Bachelor of Science in 1922. He attended Princeton Theological Seminary earning his Bachelor of Theology degree in 1926. He attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from 1928-1929. In 1939, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho.

From 1922-1923, Steele was a coach and teacher of science at the high school at California, Pennsylvania. In May 1926, after graduating from the Princeton Theological Seminary, Steele was ordained a Presbyterian minister, and served as pastor for the churches in Ridgebury, Centerville and Denton, New York. From 1927-1928, he was a pastor at Webb Horton Memorial Presbyterian Church in Middletown, New York.

In 1928, Steele married Elizabeth Louise Reherd, the only child of Westminster College President Herbert Reherd. They had two sons: R. David and James R. Steele, each of whom would go on to become Presbyterian ministers. Robert Steele was called to Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was the director of Christian Education and assistant pastor until 1934.

Toward the end of 1934, Steele became Vice-President of Westminster College, two years later associate president, and finally president and trustee in 1939. Westminster College suffered a great deal from the later depression years during President Steele's term and the college came very close to closing, but Dr. Steele worked hard by maintaining good public relations and active fund raising in order to keep it open. The Science Building was constructed and the Dane Hansen Memorial Building dedicated during Steele's term as president (1939-1952).

After resigning as Westminster College president, Dr. Steele went on to become the 9th president (1952-1967) of Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Robert D. Steele died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 71.

Content Description +/-

This collection contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Robert D. Steele, 5th president of Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah). The correspondence documents Steele's wide-range of activities as college president . His fundraising and general administrative duties are well documented in these letters including the handling of inquiries about admission applications, loans, and dormitory reservations, reminders to the board of trustees about meetings, notes to the board of trustees informing them of new policies, notification of bequests to Westminster, donation letters, and scholarship notifications. Specific inquiries include a letter from the daughters of Sheldon Jackson asking if the college would like a portrait of their father (and Steele's acceptance). Significant correspondence exists between President Steele and the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church. Steele and his correspondents on the Board discuss new policies, funding issues, investments, the release of the mortgage on the Gunton Memorial Chapel, its ultimate sale, communications with the purchaser, and Steele's decision to resign as president.

President Steele played an important role in the search for a new president. The last two letters are to and from Dr. Tom Stine of Carroll College, transmitting Robert Steele's records to Westminster College.

Collection Use +/-

Restrictions on Access:

Open to public research.

Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Twenty-four hours advance notice is encouraged.

Restrictions on Use:

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material must be obtained from the director of the Giovale Library.

Preferred Citation:

Robert D. Steele Westminster College President's correspondence, 1939-1973, ACC-005A, Giovale Library Archives, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Administrative Information +/-


The correspondence is arranged chronologically by date.

Processing Note:

Processed in March 2003 by Laura Richey.


Steele, Robert D. (Robert Denham), 1901-1972


Collection materials are in English.


0.2 linear feet

Language of the Finding Aid:


Author of the Finding Aid:

Finding aid written March 2003 by Laura Richey

EAD Creation Date:

2011 February 1 by Sarah Shaw


Describing Archives : A Content Standard (DACS)



Related Material:

Related collection and photographs in Giovale Library Archives:

Subjects +/-

Corporate Names:

Gunton Memorial Chapel (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of Christian Education
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983)--Administration
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983)--Buildings
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983)--Finance
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983)--History--Sources
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983)--Presidents
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983). President's Office

Subject Terms:

Chapels--Utah--Salt Lake City
College presidents--Utah--Salt Lake City--Archives
Educational fund raising--Utah--Salt Lake City
Presbyterian universities and colleges--Utah--Finance
Presbyterian universities and colleges--Utah--History--Sources

Form or Genre Terms:


Personal Names:

Steele, Robert D. (Robert Denham), 1901-1972--Archives
Steele, Robert D. (Robert Denham), 1901-1972--Correspondence
Stine, Tom

Geographical Names:

Salt Lake City (Utah)--History--Sources