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Nancy Vom Steeg Papers

Identifier: UP002671

Scope and Content

This collections contains 2 series.

Series I: Community and Activism Work, 1953-1987: This series contains materials pertaining to Nancy Vom Steeg's life, including organizations she was involved with, correspondence, conference attendance, and events involving her activism.

Series II: Oversize and Audiovisual Files, 1953-1987: This series contains several oversize posters, as well as two folders worth of photographs, several sleeves of negative and photographic slides, and one VHS tape.


  • 1953 - 1987
  • Majority of material found within 1961 - 1979


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Nancy Vom Steeg was born in 1935 to Carl and Annetta Wonnberger. Carl was head of the English department at Cranbrook School from 1929 to 1967.

Nancy graduated from Kingswood School in 1953. She studied Art at Michigan State University and later transferred to University of Michigan. In 1963 she married Erich Vom Steeg. They moved to Lafayette Park in 1966.

In the late 1960s Nancy and Erich became further involved with Detroit area political and activist organizations. They held meetings in their Nicolet St. home, with many of their neighbors in attendance. Nancy and her husband participated in the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968, and marched in Washington DC, where she was arrested while protesting.

Nancy Vom Steeg was very vocal about the destruction of Poletown for the GM plant's construction. Nancy and her husband took up many causes, including women's rights, food cooperatives, and consumer protection. Faith played an important role in their lives too. Erich was a Lutheran and Nancy was an Episcopalian. They attended Christ Church Detroit for decades where Erich sang in the choir. Nancy also spoke up for women's roles in religion, particularly advocating ion for women to become ministers.


4 Linear Feet (3 SB, 1 OS)


Nancy Vom Steeg was a Detroit activist during the 1960s through the 1980s. Though Poletown might have been the more well-known issue of the time, Nancy was a part of several movements, such as food coops, environmentalism, women and religion, and consumer protection.


The collection is arranged into 2 series. Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), and Series 2 (Box 4). Folders in each series are listed by their location within each box. They are semiarranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout several boxes within each series.


Materials were deposited at the Walter P. Reuther Library by Paula Jo Kemler, niece of Nancy vom Steeg, on January 18, 2018.

Related Materials

Bruce L. Harkness Poletown Photographs


Box 4, containing audiovisual materials was transferred to the Reuther Library's Audiovisual Department.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Mark Prindiville on February 21, 2018.
Guide to the Nancy Vom Steeg Papers.
Processed by Mark Prindiville.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA