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Selma Neubacher Steele collection

Identifier: L148

Scope and Contents

The collection consists principally of Selma Neubacher Steele's correspondence from the period 1926-1940, including correspondence regarding T.C. Steele’s paintings and exhibitions of his work; her shawl collection; her maintenance of the Brown County, Indiana property; her activities in the Indiana Federation of Art Clubs and other organizations; and family, personal, and social affairs.

Correspondents include Alfred M. Brooks, William Lowe Bryan, Mary Q. Burnet, Frank Hohenberger, Gustave Baumann, Josiah K. Lilly, and Herman B. Wells.


  • 1906-1940


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Selma Neubacher Steele (1870-1945) was a writer and art teacher in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1907, married prominent Hoosier painter Theodore Clement (T. C.) Steele (1847-1926). She was born to Ludwig (Louis) and Margaret (Berg) Neubacher, was born on October 21, 1870, in Indianapolis. Steele graduated from Indianapolis High School (later Shortridge) in 1887. Steele taught 2nd and 3rd grade students for 10 years for the Indianapolis Public Schools. She completed a 2-year course from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York in 1905, in antipation of a career in art education. Steele became the assistant supervisor of art for the Indianapolis Public Schools in 1906, and also taught art classes for teachers on Saturdays at the John Herron Art Institute during 1906-1907. She was a member of the Portfolio Club and the Indianapolsi Sketching Club. She married T. C. Steele on August 9, 1907 in Indianapolis

After their wedding, the Steeles moved into their new home and studio, called House of the Singing Winds, in Brown County, Indiana. Selma Steele strongly supported her husband's work as an landscape and portrait artist. While he painted, she became farm and property manager of the House of the Singing Winds, maintaing the property and supervising improvements, including the establishment of the renowned gardens at the home and studio. In 1945, she donated the property to the Indiana Department of Conservation (now the Indiana Department of Natural Resources) to establish the T. C. Steele State Historic Site. The couple are buried in the T. C. Steele Memorial Cemetery at the state historic site near Belmont, Brown County, Indiana.


Items in the collection.

Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. "T. C. Steele and His Historic Home." Accessed September 25, 2020.

Perry, Rachel Berenson. "Selma Neubacher Steele: A Woman Ahead of Her Time." Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History 28, no. 1 (Winter 2016): 6.


7.6 Cubic Feet (19 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Steele Memorial on 1962/11/09.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2010 August by Jessica Combs. EAD finding aid created 2010 August by Jessica Combs. Collection reprocessed and EAD finding aid revised 2012 April by Brent Abercrombie. EAD finding aid revised 2020/09/25 by Brittany Kropf.
Selma Neubacher Steele collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.