1877-2000; bulk: 1896-1932

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the Winthrop Murray Crane papers (except for the autograph correspondence and oversize items) is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the papers of Winthrop Murray Crane, 1877-2000, pertaining to Crane's tenures as lieutenant governor, 1896-98 and governor of Mass., 1899-1903, and United States senator from Mass., 1904-13.

Biographical Sketch

Winthrop Murray Crane was a U.S. politician and businessman who served as lieutenant governor and governor of Massachusetts and United States senator from Massachusetts. He was a mentor to President Calvin Coolidge and held close friendships with many prominent political figures, including Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, and Henry Cabot Lodge. Although he worked better behind the scenes, he was well-loved in Massachusetts, winning six elections without making a single speech.

Born 23 April 1853 in Dalton, Mass., Crane was the son of Zenas Marshall Crane, a paper manufacturer and owner of Crane and Company, and Louise Fanny Laflin. He attended public schools in Dalton, the Wesleyan Academy (later Wilbraham Academy) in Wilbraham, Mass., and the Williston Seminary in Easthampton, Mass.

In 1870 he left school to work as a rag picker in one of the Crane and Company paper mills. Trying to learn all aspects of his family's business, he worked his way up to sales in the late 1870s and then to management in the early 1880s. In 1880, he married Mary Benner who gave birth to their son Winthrop Murray Crane II in 1881, and then died in 1884 during the birth of their second child, who also didn't survive. Winthrop Murray Crane II. After his father's death in 1887, Crane took over the family finances, increasing the family's wealth by investing in enterprises such as American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Boston Albany Railroads, Otis Elevator Company, and Western Union.

In the early 1890s Crane entered politics by serving on the Republican National Committee in 1892 (he subsequently served on the committee in 1896, 1904, and 1908). He was elected lieutenant governor in 1896, and was then re-elected in 1897 and 1898. In 1899, he was elected governor of Massachusetts and served a 3-year term from 1899-1903. In 1902, Crane became nationally recognized when he settled a three-day Teamsters strike, by convening meetings with both sides and mediating a settlement agreement in two hours. Because of his success with the Teamsters, President Roosevelt recruited Crane to mediate an agreement during the long drawn-out anthracite coal strike. Crane was successful and an agreement was reached.

Over the next several years Crane was offered several positions in the Roosevelt administration, including secretary of the Treasury in 1902, but he did not accept any of the appointments until George Frisbee Hoar's seat in the U.S. Senate became available upon his death in 1904. He accepted the appointment to the Senate from John L. Bates, then governor of Massachusetts and a friend, and was subsequently re-elected to a full term in 1907. He served in the Senate until he resigned in 1913.

In 1906, Crane married Josephine Porter Boardman and they had three children: Stephen, Bruce, and Louise Crane. After his retirement in 1913, Crane remained closely involved in state and national politics by frequently assisting his fellow Republicans to formulate strategies that would further their conservative interests.

Crane died in 1920 at the age of 67.


Richard H. Gentile, American National Biography, Vol. 5, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Solomon Bulkley Griffin, W. Murray Crane: A Man and Brother, Boston: Little Brown, 1926.

Collection Description

The Winthrop Murray Crane papers consist of six record cartons, two narrow document boxes and one oversize document box that spans the years 1877-2000, with the bulk between 1896-1932. The collection is divided into five series: Correspondence, Volumes, Biographical Information, Addresses, and Loose Printed Materials.

The bulk of the collection consists of Crane's correspondence written and received during his tenures as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts from 1896-1989, governor of Massachusetts from 1896-1903, (to a lesser extent) as U.S. senator from Massachusetts from 1904-1913 (particularly 1904-1907 and 1912-1913), and from the years following his resignation from the Senate in 1913 until his death in 1920. The incoming correspondence and the retained copies of outgoing correspondence (letterpress books) reflect Crane's conservative political interests; relationships with colleagues, businessmen, and constituents; political appointments accepted and refused; and daily activities. Of special interest are letters received in Sept. 1902 that relate to a carriage accident in Pittsfield, Mass., that nearly killed Crane and President Theodore Roosevelt. Included is a letter from the chief of the Secret Service, dated 6 Sept. 1902, pertaining to the death of the president's personal agent, William Craig, in the accident.

The autograph collection contains letters received by Crane during his various political positions from 1896-1913, from prominent political figures including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Calvin Coolidge. Of special interest is a 13-page typed letter signed by President Roosevelt, dated 22 October 1902, describing the circumstances surrounding the1902 national coal strike and thanking Crane for his help in bringing it to an end. The autograph collection also contains some autograph letters received by Crane's son, Winthrop Murray Crane II, following Crane's death in 1920.

In addition to the correspondence, the collection contains loose clippings and scrapbooks of clippings written from 1880-2000, relating to Crane's various tenures and appointments, and other personal and professional Crane family activities and events. The collection also contains addresses read by Crane while he was governor, correspondence pertaining to the biography written following Crane's death, W. Murray Crane: A Man and a Brother, by Solomon Bulkley Griffin, a commonplace-book kept by an unidentified author, 1877-1885, calling cards, and printed ephemera.

Acquisition Information

Gift of The Louise Crane Foundation in April 2003, with subsequent additions in October 2003.

Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the Winthrop Murray Crane papers (except for the autograph correspondence and oversize items) is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Correspondence

A. Loose correspondence, 1892-1920

This subseries includes letters received by Crane as lieutenant governor from 1896-1898, governor from 1899-1903, and U.S. senator from 1904-1913, pertaining primarily to electoral support, and general duties, activities, and demands associated with Crane's various positions. In addition there are letters received by Crane from colleagues, friends, and constituents pertaining to a carriage accident in Sept. 1902 in Pittsfield, Mass. that nearly killed him and President Theodore Roosevelt; his appointment by Mass. Governor John L. Bates to the United States Senate upon the death of George Frisbie Hoar in October of 1904; and his retirement from the Senate in 1913. This subseries also include correspondence between Crane and former colleagues and friends pertaining to politics and political strategies, 1915-1920.

See also series I.B. Autograph Collection.

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 1SH 17D7 U
1892- May 1901
Carton 2SH 17D8 V
June 1901- June 1902
Carton 3SH 17D9 W
July 1902- 1920

B. Letterpress books, 1899-1903

This subseries includes letterpress books containing retained copies of outgoing correspondence written as governor of Massachusetts, 1899-1903. Each volume includes a name index.

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 5SH 17DB YVol. 1
16 Nov. 1899- 10 May 1900
Carton 5SH 17DB YVol. 2
11 May 1900- 29 Apr. 1902
Carton 5SH 17DB YVol. 3
30 Apr. 1902- 8 Jan. 1903

C. Autograph collection, 1898-1930

Restrictions on Access

Use photocopies in box 2.

This subseries contains letters received by Crane, and retained separately for their autograph value, from President Calvin Coolidge, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, President William H. Taft, and President Woodrow Wilson, among others. This subseries also includes a 13-page typed letter signed by President Roosevelt, dated 22 October 1902, describing the circumstances surrounding the1902 national coal strike and thanking Crane for his help in bringing it to an end. This subseries also includes a few letters received by Crane's son, Winthrop Murray Crane II. The autograph correspondence is stored onsite.

See also series I.A. Loose Correspondence.

Arranged alphabetically.

Box 1-2 (onsite)

II. Volumes, 1877-2000

A. Commonplace-book, 1877-1885

This subseries includes a commonplace-book kept from 1877-1885 by an unidentified person. The volume includes religious quotes and stories, recipes, quotes, and accounts that may have been kept by R. Hiscox for grocery items purchased and sold and household services performed and retained. Includes accounts for James A. Haynes, John Smith, and John Brievley.

Carton 4SH 17DA XVol. 1

B. Scrapbooks, 1880-2000 (with gaps)

This subseries includes scrapbooks pertaining to Crane's tenures as lieutenant governor, 1896-1898 and governor of Massachusetts, 1899-1903, kept by Crane's staff. The scrapbook kept from 1901-1902, includes clippings pertaining to President Roosevelt's appointment of Crane as secretary of the Treasury, a position he subsequently turned down. This subseries also includes photocopies of a scrapbook of newspaper clippings kept from 1880-2000 that pertains to several generations of Crane family members. The scrapbook was started by Crane's great aunt Louise Crane Richard Pomeroy and was given by Louise's son Brenton Crane Pomeroy to Crane's son Bruce in 1936.

See also series IV.A. Clippings.

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 6SH 17DC ZVol. 1
May- Sept. 1896
Carton 6SH 17DC ZVol. 2
Sept. - Oct. 1896
Carton 6SH 17DC ZVol. 3
Carton 6SH 17DC ZVol. 4
Carton 6SH 17DC ZVol. 5
Carton 6SH 17DC ZVol. 6
Carton 6SH 17DC ZVol. 7
Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 28-33
1880-2000 (family clippings)Photocopies

Processing note: Due to mildew damage this volume was photocopied and the original discarded.

III. Biographical materials, 1917-1926

A. Memorials, 1917-1922

This subseries includes memorials for Crane following his death in 1920 written by the citizens of Dalton, Mass., the clerks from North Adams, Mass., the National Republican Club, and the Berkshire Life Insurance Company. The subseries also includes manuscript copies of memorials about Crane that were published in various newspapers and a memorial for Crane's grandfather, Zenas Crane, by the Boy's Club of Pittsfield, Mass.

Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 10-15

B. Correspondence, 1926

This subseries include letters received by Crane's widow Josephine Porter Boardman Crane and son Winthrop Murray Crane in 1926 related to the biography, W. Murray Crane: A Man and Brother by Solomon Bulkley Griffin, 1926. The subseries includes letters written by Thomas Flournoy, Horace A. Moses, Charles D. Hilles, and Arthur B. Daniels, among others.

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 4Folder 16SH 17DA X

IV. Addresses, 1897-1902

This series includes State of the State addresses read by Crane in Jan. 1901 and Jan. 1902 to Massachusetts General Court. Also included here are manuscript and printed copies of speech notes given by Crane, 1897-1900.

Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 17-19

V. Loose printed materials, 1886-1992

A. Clippings, 1887-1992

This subseries includes loose clippings pertaining primarily to Crane's appointment to the United States Senate by Mass. Governor John L. Bates upon the death of George Frisbie Hoar in 1904, and his subsequent re-election to a full term in 1907. Other subject include his tenure as governor of Massachusetts from 1899-1903, his marriage to Josephine Porter Boardman in 1906, and miscellaneous activities of other Crane family members, 1972-1992.

See also series II.B. Scrapbooks.

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 1-8
Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 9
1920, 1972, 1991-1992
Box OS (onsite)Folder 4
Box OS (onsite)Folder 5

B. Calling cards, ca. 1900-1913

Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 20-22

C. Ephemera, 1886-1913

Arranged by subject.

This subseries includes ephemera primarily from Crane's tenure as governor of Massachusetts, 1899-1903, and United States senator, 1904-1913. The subseries includes proclamations, programs, and menus from events in Boston and Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts election ballots.

Box OS (onsite)Folder 1
Proclamations, 1896-1907, 1913(Oversize)
Box OS (onsite)Folder 2
Massachusetts election ballots, 1896-1901(Oversize)
Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 23
Algonquin Club of Boston dinner menus, 1903-05
Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 24
Harvard University, n.d., and Boston Patriots Club, 1905, event programs
Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 25
Gridiron Club of Washington, D.C. Annual Dinner programs, 1904-1907
Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 26
Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies programs, 1913
Carton 4SH 17DA XFolder 27-28
Miscellaneous ephemera, 1886-1906
Box OS (onsite)Folder 3
Oversize miscellaneous ephemera, n.d.(Oversize)

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Winthrop Murray Crane photographs, ca. 1865-1950. Photo. Coll. 219.

Preferred Citation

Winthrop Murray Crane papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Crane, Winthrop Murray, 1853-1920.
Crane family.
Crane, Josephine Boardman, 1873-1972.
Crane, Winthrop Murray, b. 1881.
Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.
Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930.
Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924.


Republican Party (Mass.)
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854-)
United States.--Congress.--Senate.--Appointments, promotions, salaries, etc.
Massachusetts.--Governor (1900-1903 : Crane).
Massachusetts.--Lieutenant Governor (1896-1898 : Crane).


Anthracite Coal Strike, Pa., 1902.
Political campaigns.
Politicians--United States.
Massachusetts--Politics and government--1865-1950.
United States--Politics and government--1901-1953.