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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 1793

Eleanor Steber collection

Contains photographs, advertisements, drawings, and diplomas in the oversize, processed materials, along with unprocessed, boxed costumes and clothing, financial materials, music, books, objects, publicity and public relations items, photographs, manuscripts and archival files, audio recordings, and scrapbooks.


  • circa 1920-1990

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.
Most of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


132.5 linear feet (137 boxes and 14 oversize folders)

Contains materials relating to Eleanor Steber's career as an operatic soprano, including photographs, advertisements, drawings from fans, and a diploma from the Sherman School of Expression and Dramatic Culture in 1933 in the oversize, processed materials. The majority of the collection has not been processed, but has been loosely organized into boxes by types. These include Steber's costumes and clothing, financial documents, music, books, objects, publicity and public relations-related papers, further photographs, manuscripts and archival files, audio recordings, and scrapbooks.

Biographical / Historical

Eleanor Steber (1914-1990) was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, and was an American-trained operatic soprano. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, New York, in 1940, and was one of its lead artists through 1961. Steber was known for performances of music by Wagner, Alban Berg, Giacomo Puccini, Richard Strauss, and Wolfgang Amodeus Mozart, as well as in French opera. Steber performed beyond the New York area at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival (1952), and at the Florence May Festival (1954), as well as singing the world premiere of Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville, Summer of 1915,” a work she commissioned, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1948). Steber performed with Arturo Toscanini in the 1944 NBC Symphony broadcast of Beethoven’s Fidelio, and appeared on radio and television shows such as “The Voice of Firestone” and “The Bell Telephone Hour,” among others. After retiring from singing, Steber taught on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music in Ohio and at the Juillard School in New York, and maintained a private voice studio. She created the Eleanor Steber Vocal Foundation to assist young singers at the start of their careers. Steber died on 1990 October 3 in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.


The 14 oversize files are organized in alphabetical order by material type. The 121 boxes sent to HD in February 2000 are sorted into the following categories, but unprocessed: Costumes, Clothing (6 boxes); Financial (11 boxes); Music (14 boxes); Books (3 boxes); Objects (5 boxes); Publicity/PR (20 boxes); Photographs (10 boxes); Manuscripts/Archival files (12 boxes); and Audio recordings (40 boxes). Sent to HD in August/September 2006: Scrapbooks (9 boxes).

Physical Location

pfd (P1.C1.2.15 [Folders 1-14]), Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2006-MT-18. Gifts of: William C. Steber through Richard Conrad, 1991 March 11; Video Artists International, 1992 March 25, 1994 May 25, and 1995 May 31; and the Estate of Eleanor Steber via William C. Steber, through Richard Conrad.

Processing Information

Oversized folders processed by Betts Coup, 2018 May. Boxed materials are unprocessed.
Link to catalog
Steber, Eleanor. Eleanor Steber, circa 1920-1990 (MS Thr 1793): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2018 May 08
Description rules
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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