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Date Span 1983-2008
Extent ca. 1.5 cf
Biographical Sketch: Wendell H. Stepp (March 25, 1924—July 21, 2008) was a Dothan-area historian who co-authored the book Dothan: A Pictorial History with his daughter Pamela Stepp. Extending his interest in both history and civic improvement, he became an influential member of the Downtown Group and the Dothan Festival of Murals, the organization responsible for commissioning and maintaining the historically-themed murals on the walls of downtown Dothan.
Mr. Stepp’s special area of historical interest was the development and early history of Dothan, and he gave many presentations to local clubs and organizations concerning the economical and geographical factors that contributed to Dothan’s establishment and growth. He also wrote and delivered short segments on these topics for WDHN, a local television channel, and published a series of articles in Dothan Magazine in a series entitled “Stepp Back in History.”
Stepp played an especially important role in the implementation and design of each historical Dothan mural. In addition to assisting the Festival of Murals with administrative tasks, Mr. Stepp suggested and researched the themes of many, if not all, of the murals, and provided research materials to each mural artist as a basis for his or her work. Each mural represents a significant moment of or factor in Dothan’s history and development, including subjects like the Dothan Riot, the peanut industry, and the women of the Wiregrass region.
Mr. Stepp was born in Huntington, W. Va. He met his wife, Winifred, while he served in the Army Air Corps near her home in England during World War Two. They were married in November 1945, and moved to the United States shortly thereafter. The Stepps had two children, Michael and Pamela. In 1965, the Stepps moved to Dothan, AL, where Mr. Stepp helped build Akwell Industries (later Ansell), retiring in the 1980s as senior vice president and general manager. Stepp was very active with the Boy Scouts and the Disabled American Veterans (member of Chapter 87). In addition to these and his work with the Downtown Group and Festival of Murals, he served on the State Industries Board, State Board of Veterans Affairs, and the Dothan Historical Preservation Committee.
[Written by Autumn Faulkner, AWHC Intern/UA MLIS Student, June 2011]
Scope / Content: Research notes, newspaper clippings, magazines, texts of media spots, and speeches concerning the history of Dothan and southeast Alabama. Assembled by Wendell Stepp. Also contains ca. 1/2 cubic foot of research notes, correspondence, and copies of contracts concerning the Murals of the Wiregrass project which Mr. Stepp chaired for so long.
Organization Organized into 4 series: 1. WDHN Presentations, 1991-2000 (7 folders); 2. Wiregrass Festival of Murals 1992-2007 (19 folders); 3. Historical Research and Publications, 1983-2008 (33 folders); 4. Miscellaneous (1 folder).
Provenance Materials collected by Mr. Stepp during the course of his work on the history and with the historical community in Dothan, AL.
Preferred Citation Wendell H. Stepp Papers, RG110. Wiregrass Archives, Troy University Dothan Campus, Dothan, AL.
Access/User Limits? Open for research, Mrs. Winnie Stepp retains copyright. See Donor Agreement, April 2011
Series 1: WDHN Presentations, 1991-2000, 7 folders
Originals and copies of scripts for short historical presentations for Stepp’s WDHN channel 18 television program. Includes research notes, scripts, and photographs.
WDHN - 1/20/00
Series 2. Wiregrass Festival of Murals 1992-2007 (19 folders)
Papers and notes concerning research, planning, commissioning, and dedicating murals in downtown Dothan. Includes artist sketches, photocopies of contracts and invoices, correspondence, and printed color postcards of murals. Also contains minutes of the first meeting of the Wiregrass Festival of Murals Board of Directors.
History and Murals
Johnny Mack Brown Mural
Mules in the Wiregrass Mural
Mural 5 - Women of the Wiregrass
Mural Book Notes
Murals and Downtown Group
Paints and Coating
Railroads and Turpentine
Salute to the Peanut Industry Mural
Sherman Rose Mural 1
Series 3. Historical Research and Publications, 1983-2008 (33 folders)
Research materials and drafts/tearsheets of historical articles written for presentation or publication, many from Stepp’s series, “Stepp Back in Time,” published in Dothan Magazine. Research materials include notes, correspondence, copies of articles, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
Alveeta Hawk [Alveta Hawk]
Ellicott's Line/Spanish Florida
George Washington Carver
Letter from Claudia Williams
Local History and Development
Local Magazines and Brochures
Notes of Early Dothan
Opera House and Bates
(1) J.P. Folkes, W.J. Baxley, A.C. Crawford and Misc.
(2) First post office - Town name - Ltr J.P. Folkes
(4) Streets - Ross Clark Circle
(9) Incorporation, Houston County
Mr. Keener Baxley - Early History
Columbia Recorder Newspaper 28 April 1892
Dothan Eagle Newspaper 27 October 1953 (bound)
Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1 folder.
Negatives of switchboard at General Telephone Co, 3rd floor, newspaper clippings, pamphlets edited by Mr. Stepp, lecture notes, research notes, 1839 land grant, Mr. Stepp's memorial service pamphlet 2008, Cong. Terry Everett's tribute to Wendell Stepp, Certificate honoring the memory of Wendell Stepp - from the President. Mr. Stepp's brief bio page, photographs.