The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837, and the history of the University's schools and colleges. This project is part of a larger effort to prepare resources for the University's bicentennial in 2017. Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.


Verner W. Crane
LSA Minutes


In a career that bound him close to Michigan, Verner Winslow Crane gave distinction to the department of history. He was born in Tecumseh in 1889 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from this University in 1911. The next year he earned his master's degree from Harvard, and in 1915 his doctorate in history from the University of Pennsylvania. After holding a postdoctoral fellowship, he returned to Michigan as instructor in history. In 1920 he was appointed assistant professor at Brown University and later associate professor. In 1930 he was brought back to Michigan as professor, after the death of Claude Van Tyne, his mentor. Professor Crane taught American colonial history and served on many important department, college, and university committees, including the Clements Library Committee of Management, until his retirement in 1959. He was also a visiting lecturer at Harvard, Brown, and University College, London. A historian who enjoyed an international reputation, he excelled as a director of graduate students, imparting to them his high standards of scholarship and integrity.

Active in professional societies, he was on the Board of Editors of the American Historical Review, 1925-35, and of the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 1938-40. He was a member of the University Research Club and served a term as president. The faculty's highest honor, the Henry Russel lectureship, was awarded him in 1958. After publication of his pioneering study of The Southern Frontier, 1670-1732 (1928 and 1956), he focused his research on Benjamin Franklin, producing three important books: Benjamin Franklin, Englishman and American (1936), Benjamin Franklin's Letters to the Press (1950), and Benjamin Franklin and a Rising People (1954). Prof. Crane also contributed nine biographies to the Dictionary of American Biography and articles to several scholarly journals. In retirement he worked on a study of Franklin's circle of London friends that his son, Professor Theodore Awson Crane, plans to complete.

Professor Crane and Jane M. Harris were married in 1915. She died in 1953. He married the former Margaret Vining Van Duren in 1958. Professor Crane died in Ann Arbor on December 11, 1974. He is survived by his wife and son.

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