Cravens family papers, 1891-1972, bulk 1920-1922
A Guide to the Papers at the Indiana University Archives
Electronic finding aid encoded by Donald C. Force
Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management
1320 East Tenth Street
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Cravens family papers,1891-1972, bulk 1920-1922
1.2 cubic feet
Materials are in English.
The John W. Cravens family were Indiana
University alumni and employees. John William Cravens arrived in Bloomington in 1885 to
attend Indiana University, where he earned his AB in History in 1897 and AM in
Journalism in 1920. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Cravens was appointed
University Registrar, a position he held until his retirement in 1936, in addition to
University Secretary, 1915-1936 and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, 1898-1936. His
second wife, Mellie Parker Greene, also attended Indiana University. Upon her arrival in
Bloomington in 1906, Mellie secured a job in the University Library but the following
year found a position as secretary to President William Lowe Bryan. She remained an
administrative employee of Indiana University until 1954. Ruth Ralston Cravens, daughter
of John Cravens from his first marriage, graduated from Indiana University in 1920. She
served as an administrative assistant to IU President Herman B Wells from 1942-1956.
This collection consists of the papers of the John W. Cravens family, including John's
speeches, research and draft articles on the history of Indiana University, the IU
trustees, and his Educational publicity article. Ruth's papers consist entirely of
correspondence, but the material from Mellie includes speeches and biographical
This collection is open for research.
Advance notice is required.
John William Cravens was born in Center Valley, Indiana on October 1, 1864. After
graduating from high school in Danville, Indiana, he went on to study at Central Normal
College (also in Danville). He received his BS from that institution in 1884. For the
next year, he served as editor of the
Danville Gazette with
Cravens first came to Bloomington in 1885, where he attended classes at Indiana
University for one semester before turning his attention to public service. Cravens
served as superintendent of the Monroe County schools from 1887- 1890. After leaving
this position, Cravens served as clerk of the Monroe County Circuit Court until 1894. In
1895, Cravens re-entered IU to pursue a degree in history. His interest in history led
him to write several articles on the history of IU. At this same time, he was appointed
University Registrar by then-President Joseph Swain. He served in this position until
his retirement in 1936. In addition to the duties he had as Registrar, he also served as
Secretary to the Board of Trustees from 1898-1936 and as Secretary to the University
from 1915-1936. John William Cravens died on August 10, 1937 and is buried at Rose Hill
Cemetery in Bloomington.
John W. Cravens married his second wife Mellie Parker Greene on June 28, 1916. Mellie
had attended the same high school as her future husband. She taught school in Jamestown
and North Salem, Indiana for four years. Mellie arrived in Bloomington in 1906 where she
attended classes at Indiana University until 1909. During 1906 she worked at the
University Library. She became President William Lowe Bryan's secretary in 1907, a job
that she kept until her marriage in 1916. After John W. Cravens' death in 1937, Mellie
was in charge of the Register of Graduates in the IU Alumni Office. From 1942 until 1954
she served as an Administrative Assistant to President Herman B Wells. In 1961 Mellie
Cravens and her step-daughter Ruth Ralston Cravens moved in to the Kennedy Memorial
Christian Home in Martinsville, Indiana. Mellie Parker Greene Cravens died on October
Ruth Ralston Cravens was born February 12, 1898. Her mother Emma Lucille Krueger, John's
first wife, died on February 20, 1898. Ruth graduated with an A.B. in English from IU in
1920. Like her step-mother, she too worked for Herman B Wells as an Administrative
Assistant from 1942-1956. She never married. She died on January 20, 1982.
Organized into three series by the family members represented in the papers: John
William Cravens, Mellie Parker Greene, and Ruth Ralston Cravens.
Scope and Content Note
Dominated by the writings of John William Cravens, the Cravens family papers also
include the writings of his second wife, Mellie Parker Greene, and his daughter by his
first marriage, Ruth Ralston Cravens. This collection spans 1891-1972 and includes
correspondence and draft articles relating to John Cravens’ research, personal
correspondence by Mellie and Ruth Ralston Cravens, as well as a limited number of
memorabilia relating to Mellie Cravens’ life.
Spanning from 1900-1922, the first series of John W. Cravens consists of correspondence,
writings, and research. The first sub-series, General correspondence, includes a letter
from Benjamin F. Kimberly written in 1901 from the Indiana State Prison, and a
solicitation to vote by Cravens in 1901. The "History of Indiana University" sub-series
contains materials accumulated during Cravens’ research from 1921-22 on the development
of the IU campus. Cravens’ research includes correspondence with former IU students
asking for their recollections of university buildings to aid his work in "preparing an
article for the Alumni Quarterly on the buildings which were located in the old college
campus." These letters are arranged alphabetically by author in 21 folders. Many of the
letters received include detailed recollections of the campus geography at the turn of
the century. This sub-series also includes Cravens’ research notes. The third
sub-series, identified by the name of Cravens’ article "Educational Publicity," spans
1920-1922 and is comprised of some correspondence as well as two copies of the published
article in the 1922 Indiana University Bulletin and a draft of a speech. Cravens sent
copies of the Bulletin to universities throughout the Midwest, and the correspondence
here are letters of appreciation for the article. The final sub-series, Other writings
and research, spans c.1911-1934. It includes Cravens’ research notes and drafts on the
history of the Indiana University Board of Trustees, as well as several unidentified
articles, reports, and speeches. Items in this sub-series include an 1835 legal
agreement between Andrew Wylie and George L. Troop and a man identified as McDonald;
draft articles about IU president William Lowe Bryan and IU history; as well as topics
of mutual concern to university and local officials.
Mellie Cravens’ active life is also represented in this collection, and is the second
series, spanning 1891-1962. Correspondence from both William and Charlotte Bryan are
included here, as well as letters from Mary Dingle Craig, John Cravens, and her
step-daughter Ruth Ralston Cravens. Between May and July of 1938 Mellie and Herman B
Wells corresponded about a position for Mellie at the Riley Hospital. Biographical
materials include a 1902-03 Hendrick High School event program, an undated Danville High
School Commencement program, a report from the Riley Hospital Hostess Desk, minutes and
news clippings about the Indiana University Faculty Women’s Club, as well as an Indiana
University Certificate of Appreciation from 1956. There are three untitled and undated
speeches in addition to a copy of Mellie’s speech "Indiana Circuit Rider."
The final series for Ruth Ralston Cravens is comprised of two letters. The earliest,
from 1968, is a letter from C.E. Harrell expressing condolences on behalf of the Indiana
University Board of Trustees over the passing of Mellie Cravens.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
IUCAT, the IU Libraries' online
catalog. Materials about related topics, persons or places can be found by searching the
catalog using these terms.
--Alumni and alumnae --Archives.
William, 1864-1937 --Archives.
William, 1864-1937 --Correspondence.
Ralston, 1898-1982 --Archives.
Ralston, 1898-1982 --Correspondence.
John Robert Cravens’ correspondence and lecture notes were removed and transferred to
Accessions 0008 and 1152
Copyright interests for this collection have not been transferred to the Trustees of
Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University
[Item], Cravens family papers, Collection C50, Office of University Archives and
Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processed by Lisa Hooper.
Completed in 2007.
John William Cravens, 1900-1922
General correspondence, 1900-1901
Kimberly, Benjamin F., 1901
Solicitation for vote, 1900
"History of Indiana University," 1921-1922
"History of Indiana University" research notes, circa 1922
Misc. addresses used for history of IU, circa 1921
"Educational Publicity," 1920-1922
"Educational Publicity," publication, 1920-1922
Other writings and research, circa 1911-1934
History of IU trustees, materials used, undated
Articles and reports, circa 1911-1922
Articles and reports, 1923-1934
Mellie Parker Greene, 1891-1962
General correspondence, 1891-1948,
Correspondence from Herman B Wells, 1938
Biographical materials, 1902-1962
Speech materials, undated
Ruth Ralston Cravens, 1968-1972
General correspondence, 1968-1972