Scope and arrangement
The Crane Family Papers span the years 1819 to 1944, with the bulk falling between 1860 and 1900. They begin with the correspondence of the Mitchell and Green families, from which Laura Cornelia Mitchell Crane descended, and end with that of her daughters. Although the collection is chiefly correspondence, it also includes journals, military records, legal papers, accounts, writings, photographs, and printed matter.
The papers are divided into 19 series, the largest of which is the correspondence of Alexander Baxter (A. B.) Crane and his wife. His letters from the years 1860 to 1865 offer a view of his Civil War expedience. Letters to Alexander from his brother Samuel detail the latter's service in the Southwest. These and other incoming and outgoing letters are interfiled in the series chronologically. A separate series is A. B. Crane - Civil War Records, which are his official Union army records. Alexander's later correspondence sheds light on his relationship with his children, with his expatriate cousin Edward A. Crane, and with his family in Berkley, which he in part supported. There is little correspondence that illuminates his legal career, except for a collection of crank mail from Mrs. Dennis (Lucy) McMahon, harassing Alexander for his defense of Holden and Eldredge.
Family Accounts reveal the considerable wealth of the Crane family, over $1 million in the 1870s, The legal papers for John W. Mitchell, Elizabeth H. Green, and Peter Van Schaick reveal the wealth of the extended Crane family, including substantial real estate holdings in lower Manhattan. Family photographs range from Civil War cartes-de-visite of Alexander in uniform to photographs of him in his later years with his grandchildren, photographs of his children, of the Berkley Homestead, of Holmhurst, and of the Marshes' Villa Farini in Florence.
Most of the Crane daughters' letters received, arranged chronologically, are of a routine nature. Clippings for Elizabeth and Helen detail the critical reception of their creative work, generally unfavorable for the former, more enthusiastic for the latter. The few letters received by Mary E. Crane, a member of the extended family, are from a Sing Sing prisoner whom she served as a spiritual sponsor. Theron Damon's lively correspondence details life in the expatriate community of Rumelihisari, a suburb of Istanbul, in the 1920s. It is not clear how Damon is related to the Cranes, although one letter mentions a visit from Clarence B. Mitchell, a Miss Mitchell, and a Miss Ruggles. George P. and Caroline Marsh's correspondence - interfiled and arranged chronologically - Mrs. Marsh's journal, and Miss Mitchell's (Laura Cornelia's?) travel journal likewise provide a view of upper-class Americans abroad.
Perhaps most interesting in the Crane Family Papers is Miss R's journal, which details a Christian missionary's visits to the homes of the poor in lower Manhattan. These volumes give a vivid picture of the ethnic, racial, and religious diversity of the area and record Miss R's evangelical success in statistics for "hopeful conversions," "backsliders reclaimed," and "young women rescued from vice". It is not clear how Miss R is related to the Cranes. It is believed she is the Miss "Robertson of Renwick Street", whose name and address are penciled in the first volume. Elizabeth Green's name is also penciled in on another page of the same volume. The two may have been friends engaged in the same social work.
Prominent correspondents include: Ames, Winthrop.Bacon, Henry.Blair, John Insley.Booth, Newton.Boutwell, George S.Brown, Francis.Brown, Samuel Gilman.Bryant, William Cullen.Beresford, Charles W.Childs, George W.De Peyster, John Watts.Drake, Charles D.Edmunds, George F.Edmunds, Susan (Mrs. George F.).Emerson, Ralph W.Eyre, Laurence.Fiske, Harrison Grey.Goodwin, W. W.Greenslet, Ferris.Green, Andrew H.Hallock, Charles.Hosmer, Harriet G.Kelly, Edmond.Langdon, William C.Lathrop, George Parsons.Marsh, George Perkins.Minghetti, Marco.Montez, Lola.Muller, Mrs. Max (Georgina).Park, Edwards A.Peabody, George Foster.Ross, Janet Anne.Schurz, Carl.Schuyler, Louisa Lee.Sickles, Daniel.Tarkington, Elizabeth Booth.Tarkington, John S.Tarkington, Newton Booth.Taylor, Bayard.Upton, Emory.Washington, Booker T.
The Crane family papers are arranged in nineteen series:
(previously misidentified as Miss Whitehall's Journal).