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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

Summary Information

Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management
1320 East Tenth Street
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Phone: 812-855-1127

Craven family

Cravens family papers,1891-1972,  bulk 1920-1922

Collection No.

1.2 cubic feet
(2 boxes)

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 material.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Advance notice is required.

Biographical Note

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 W.A. King.

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 18, 1967.

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.

Separated Material

John Robert Cravens’ correspondence and lecture notes were removed and transferred to Collection C51.

Related Material

Collection C51

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Accessions 0008 and 1152
Usage Restrictions
Copyright interests for this collection have not been transferred to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University Archivist.
Preferred Citation
[Item], Cravens family papers, Collection C50, Office of University Archives and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processing Information
Processed by Lisa Hooper.

Completed in 2007.

Series: John William Cravens, 1900-1922 

Subseries: General correspondence, 1900-1901 

Box 1 Kimberly, Benjamin F., 1901 

Solicitation for vote, 1900 

Subseries: "History of Indiana University," 1921-1922 

Box 1 Correspondence, 1921-1922 

(21 folders)

"History of Indiana University" research notes, circa 1922 

Misc. addresses used for history of IU, circa 1921 

Subseries: "Educational Publicity," 1920-1922 

Box 1 Correspondence, 1922 

"Educational Publicity," publication, 1920-1922 

Subseries: Other writings and research, circa 1911-1934 

Box 1 History of IU trustees, materials used, undated 

(3 folders)

Box 2 Articles and reports, circa 1911-1922 

Articles and reports, 1923-1934 

Speeches, 1927-1934 

Statistics, 1927-1928 

Series: Mellie Parker Greene, 1891-1962 

Box 2 General correspondence, 1891-1948,   undated 

Correspondence from Herman B Wells, 1938 

Biographical materials, 1902-1962  

Speech materials, undated 

Series: Ruth Ralston Cravens, 1968-1972 

Box 2 General correspondence, 1968-1972