The 1863 shelling of Carlisle during the American Civil War left indelible marks on some of the town's buildings. It crystallized into stories passed down in family histories. Its presentation in print was a fascination for local residents who relished the collection of facts and opinions in their newspapers. A piece in the Carlisle American gave the popular opinion that the Confederate leader in charge of the shelling, Major General Fitzhugh Lee, was "the dastard ... not only lost to pity but destitute of humanity".
In 2008, the daughters of John S. Steckbeck donated his research collection to the Cumberland County Historical Society. Steckbeck was a professor of physical education at Dickinson College from 1946-1955. He was also a backfield coach, track coach, swim coach, and a trainer for the college. When he was not busy with sporting events, he spent his time with music. He was a known bass soloist who also directed the college choir. After leaving Dickinson College, Steckbeck went to Lehigh University where he continued to be a professor of physical education and coach. He worked at Lehigh from 1955-1959 and again from 1962 until his retirement in 1979. Since 1976, Lehigh has awarded the John S. Steckbeck award. According to Lehigh University, the honoree must be, "an outstanding female athlete enrolled in her first year who has displayed a high level of character." His interest in Native American issues led to his becoming an honorary member of the Oglala Sioux Nation.
During his time in Carlisle, Steckbeck became interested in the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. His interest in the school culminated in the book, The Fabulous Redmen: The Carlisle Indians and their Famous Football Teams. J. Horace McFarland Company of Harrisburg, PA published the book in 1951. The book jacket states, "Here is the first complete record of the football games played by the Carlisle Indians during the quarter-century that the Carlisle Indian School existed. The author has checked with every possible source for detailed accounts of the games, for early impressions of Carlisle residents, for stories about warriors who came straight from the reservations of the West to be molded into the most spectacular football teams ever turned out." While many books and articles have been written about the athletic program at the Indian School, Steckbeck's work was groundbreaking when it was published.
The collection includes both library materials and photographs. The library collection includes eighteen document boxes of materials ranging from his interests in Native Americans to sports to the colleges where he worked. His interest in Native American issues went beyond the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. He maintained a collection of government issued reports including: Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1884 ... 1907), Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1860, 1871-1894), Annual Report of the Board oflndian Commissioners (1871-1913), Annual Report of the Mine Inspector to Indian Territory (1894-1904), and the Indian Rights Association( 1892-1909. Beyond the reports, he collected information on the Indian Claims Commission and the Survey of Conditions of the Indians in the US (1929-1930). He also has a copy of "Oklahoma's Poor Rich Indians: an Orgy of Graft and Exploitation of the Five Civilized Tribes - Legalized Robbery" by Gertrude Bonin (Zitkala-Sa), Charles H. Fabens, and Matthew K. Sniffen.