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Guide to the Steele Family Collection (1851 – 1971)

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Collection Number



This collection was assembled by Catherine Baumgarten Steele and Wilfred H. Steele.  It was donated to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History on an unknown date.


Number of Containers:  Two (2) Boxes
Linear Feet:  1.0 Linear Feet


Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Archives
705 Front Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


The Steele Family Collection consists of photographs, ephemera, correspondence, newspaper clippings and photocopied research materials pertaining to the Steele family genealogy, the land in California, and their dairy and farming business.  The bulk of the Collection is secondary source information with only a few original documents.  The Steele Family came to California and purchased a ranch in San Mateo County at Point Año Nuevo near Pescadero in 1855.  There they developed a successful dairy business, and expanded their holdings to include a ranch in San Luis Obispo.  John Steele was the first Steele to come to America from England, settling in Massachusetts in 1631, and was one of the original founders of Hartford Connecticut.  Generations later, descendents of John Steele emigrated to New York, Ohio, and California.  General Frederick Steele told his brothers about the wonders of California.  Brothers Isaac Chapman (I.C.), George B. and Edgar Willis (E.W.) Steele, and their cousin Rensselaer Steele settled in California with their families and became prominent figures in the history of San Mateo, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz Counties.  This Collection contains information pertaining primarily to the California Steeles.  The information was compiled and collected by descendents of the Steele Family, Wilfred H. Steele and Catherine Steele, in an effort to publish a comprehensive family history and genealogy, two copies and a draft of which are included in the collection.

Associated Material

1. Steele Ranch Records 1855-1973, Stanford University, Available from the Online Archive of California.  The collection is a compilation of ranch papers from the Steele Ranches of San Mateo County, California. The papers include financial papers, legal papers, photographs, maps, miscellaneous background notes written by Mrs. Catherine Steele. The collection covers over 100 years of ranching in California.

2. General Frederick Steele Papers 1845-1964 (inclusive) 1862-1868 (bulk), Stanford University, Available from the Online Archive of California.  The collection contains correspondence and papers of General Frederick Steele, as well as maps, copy books, clippings and notes written by Mrs. Catherine Steele.

 3. Año Nuevo State Reserve Collection, University California Santa Cruz.  Includes 13 motion picture reels (16 mm), ca. 325 slides, 11 audio cassettes, clippings, maps, photographs, publications, unpublished articles and papers, and correspondence related to the Año Nuevo State Reserve and other areas of the north coast region of Santa Cruz County, California. The materials represent the work of Catherine B. Steele as well as Burney J. Le Boeuf and come chiefly from the period 1951-1980.


The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA

Preferred Citation

The Steele Family Collection, The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the head of Archives at MAH.  Researchers may be responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use material not produced by museum personnel.

Process By

A. Dunning and J. Durant

Date Completed