Guide to the Wendell H. Stepp Papers

Record Group 110

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 

INVENTORY


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.