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Margery Wells Steer papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00180

Scope and Contents

The Margery Wells Steer papers consist of her writings, correspondence, and some printed material.

The correspondence documents her relationship with Mary Beard and several Soviet women and also relates to her newspaper column. Of particular interest are the thirty-six letters from Mary Beard, 1950 to 1955. Steer wrote to her in 1950 requesting historical information, and the resulting friendship and exchange of letters continued until Mary Beard's death. These personal letters deal with a wide range of topics and are a reflection of Beard's many interests. Steer also corresponded with the English Edition editors of Soviet Woman between 1957 and 1985 and with two other Soviet women (1968; 1971-76), both of whom are professors at the University of Moscow. The correspondence about "Peace and the People" consists primarily of letters exchanged with her readers and with the editor of Farm and Dairy, also with other newspapers and publishers about the publication of her column.

The writings consist of the newspaper column "Peace and the People" (1966- 1986) and nine letters and articles published in Soviet Woman between 1971 and 1984. In addition there is a published copy of her book Dear Grandparents and a typescript of "The Weight of a Snowflake."

A few miscellaneous printed items are by and about Mary Beard.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1938 - 1992


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, Margery Wells Steer has assigned the copyright in her works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Margery Wells Steer, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Margery Wells Steer was born in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1899 and grew up on an eastern Long Island farm near Riverhead. She and her husband, James Steer, graduated from Oberlin College in 1923. They farmed near Youngstown, Ohio, from the early 1930s to 1963 while Mr. Steer taught school in Youngstown, and retired first to Atwood Lake, Ohio, and then to Friends House in Sandy Spring, Maryland.

The Steers have long been active on behalf of world peace. Mrs. Steer has published articles on historical and political subjects, edited community newsletters, and written columns. Her column, "Treating of This and That," appeared in the Journal of Education (Boston) between 1949 and 1951, and "Peace and the People" first in the Grove City Reporter Herald (PA) and continuing in Farm and Dairy (Salem, Ohio) from 1966 to the present. "Peace and the People" was written "to bring readers of a farm newspaper in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania information on ways in which an individual can create peace." A compilation of her articles was published in 1956 under the title New Frontiers for Rural America. She also prepared a compilation of selected columns of "Peace and the People" entitled "The Weight of a Snowflake" (l966) which was never published. A volume of letters from foreign students who shared their home for varying periods of time was published under the title Dear Grandparents in 1981.

The Steers helped organize the Carroll County (Ohio) chapter of People to People International and opened their home to visitors under that program and the Experiment in International Living.


1.042 linear feet (3 containers)

Language of Materials



Margery Wells Steer was a journalist and pacifist. Material includes correspondence with women's historian Mary Beard, with editors of Soviet Woman journal, and with Soviet women professors. Writings include her column, Peace and the People, published books, articles for Soviet Women, and a typescript of The Weight of a Snowflake. Other correspondents include her publisher, readers, and editor, as well as William Beard and Irma Drodina, Valentina Fedetova, Nelya Ramazanova, Margarita Smolyaninova, Olga Suslova, Olga Ushakova, and Galina Zlomanova.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Margery Wells Steer donated these papers beginning in 1966.

Finding aid to the Margery Wells Steer papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Susan Boone and Susan Grigg
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss65 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:23-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-04-09: Made paper FA pencil-edit changes, added accession, and updated finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063