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Erwin R. Steinberg Papers

Identifier: 0000-0068

Scope and Contents note

The Erwin R. Steinberg Papers document Steinberg’s tenure as an English professor, Vice Provost, and dean within the English Department during the years 1948-2005. The collection portrays his efforts to transform English curriculum both in and outside of the University. The papers contain correspondence, articles, and studies relating to the department, the Communication Design Center and Project English. Additionally included in the collection are Steinberg’s research materials and many writings pertaining to teaching English, plain language, James Joyce, and Franz Kafka.

The collection is divided into six series:

Personal and Consulting, 1956-1996

English Department Files, 1951-2000

Course Materials, 1948-1997

Communication Design Center, 1975-1996

Project English, 1950-1984

Research and Written Works, 1948-2005


  • 1948-2005

Biographical/Historical note

Erwin R. Steinberg was a professor of English and Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University from 1946-2007. During his early years at the University, Steinberg taught classes on composition, public speaking and literature. In 1958, Steinberg created the Bachelor of Science in Technical Writing program which was unique for its time, as it integrated English courses into the University’s technical programs. Steinberg later served a Dean of the Margaret Morrison Carnegie College from 1960-1973, and became the first Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (1965-1975).

Steinberg also was involved in transforming the English Department and its curriculum. He was Project Supervisor for the Curriculum Study Center in English from 1962-1966. Steinberg was also active in curriculum development outside of the University. He became the Coordinator of Project English under the U.S. Office of Education whose purpose was to revitalize English programs nationwide.

From 1970-1980s, Steinberg researched and collaborate with interdisciplinary programs and founded the Master of Art in Professional Writing and the Rhetoric Program. It was during this period that he also began his partnership with the Document Design Project. On behalf of the University, Steinberg partnered with the American Institutes for Research and Segiel & Gale to run the Universal Document Design Project, and later established the CMU Communication Design Center (CDC).

Steinberg also served as Thomas S. Baker Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies from 1980-1993, and Vice Provost of Education from 1991-1996. During his tenure as Vice Provost, Steinberg focused on improving the University’s undergraduate programs. His efforts resulted in increased application, tutoring program, and merit-based financial aid.

Prior to his retirement from the English Department in 2007, CMU named the Erwin R. Steinberg Auditorium in Baker Hall in his honor and a scholarship fund was created in his name.

Throughout his career, Steinberg was active in publishing articles, books, and studies related to the future of teaching English, document design, plain language, and his personal interests in the works of D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Franz Kafka.


26.5 Linear feet (27 boxes)




Erwin R. Steinberg Papers contain correspondence, course syllabi, research materials, articles, and manuscripts documenting to Steinberg’s tenure as a professor of English, Vice Provost, and Dean at Carnegie Mellon University during the years 1948-2005.

Physical Location

Collection transferred to Iron Mountain May 5, 2017. [update 7/2019: box 1A was found during 2019 collection survey and is currently being stored at Rm 133/Penn Ave. materials appear to be unprocessed]

Erwin R. Steinberg Papers, 1948-2005
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Revision Statements

  • 2024-03-16: This finding aid was reviewed during a reparative language review in March 2024. It may contain language considered to be outdated and/or offensive. The original language was retained as it was quoted from the original sources and provides important context about materials, their creators, and/or the society in which the materials were created.

Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

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