Guide to the E. F. Craven Company Records, 1793-1991 and undated, bulk 1907-1965
The E. F. Craven Company Records document the development of a North Carolina road machinery dealership from a small family business into a multi-million dollar corporation. The material spans the years from 1793 to 1991; the bulk of the collection is dated 1907-1965.
Much of the material in the early years of the Correspondence Series consists of communication to and from equipment dealers and customers concerning the sale and repair of road machinery. The Cravens usually included information on the health and activities of family members in their business letters to each other. E. A. Craven frequently offered financial and spiritual advice to his son, writing his responses on the back of his son's letters to him, so that the letter and the reply appear on opposite sides of the same page. Between December 1912 and January 1916 there is a considerable amount of correspondence between family members regarding the execution of Eli A. Craven's will. Many letters written between 1907 and 1930 are written on stationery illustrated with detailed renderings of various types of early road-building equipment.
From the late 1920's until the 1940's, Franklin Duval Craven ran the Asheville office of E. F. Craven Company, frequently travelling on sales trips. E. F. Craven often wrote encouraging his son in his work and giving him advice on sales strategy. Letters from E. A. Craven and E. F. Craven reflect the deep religious beliefs of the two men and the importance they placed in conducting their lives and their business in a moral fashion.
During World War II, several of the company's employees served in the armed forces. Duval Craven corresponded frequently with them, and copies of his letters and their replies can be found among the correspondence from the war years.
As the organizational structure of the company increased in complexity, the amount of family correspondence in the collection decreased. Interoffice communications comprise a large amount of the correspondence after the 1960's.
The files in the Legal Papers, Financial Records, and Directors' Minutes Series combine to form a profile of the E. F. Craven Company: its sales, expansions, customer base, and its staff and leaders. Of particular interest is its relationship with the NC Highway Commission and state officials. Early materials in the Legal Papers Series relate to the business and land-holding activities of the Craven family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Among the items in the Printed Materials Series is a nearly complete run of The Road Machinery News, a serial published by E. F. Craven Company from 1925 until 1978. This newsletter contained news about road construction, information and advertisements regarding road building machinery, and a column "A Line or Two," written by E. F. Craven. In these editorials, Craven expressed his moral and spiritual philosophies. The articles were compiled in 1975 and published as a volume entitled A Line or Two. Educational material on general sales techniques published in 1928 and 1929 is also included in the Printed Materials Series. These books and pamphlets were used in the hiring and training of E. F. Craven Company sales staff.
The Visual Materials Series includes photographs, silent motion picture films, and illustrated trade catalogs demonstrating the attributes of road construction machinery and road-building techniques of the early twentieth century. Use copies must be made of moving images before content can be accessed. Please contact the Research Services staff before coming to use this series.
Both Eli F. Craven and Eli A. Craven became members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in the 1890's. Occasional references to the Craven family's support of the Society of Friends are found in documents throughout the collection. Items specifically concerned with the Religious Society of Friends are grouped in the Subject Files under the same name.
- Collection Number
- E. F. Craven Company records
- 1793-1991 and undated bulk 1907-1965
- E. F. Craven Co.
- 42 Linear Feet, Approximately 33,750 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Correspondence Series, 1866-1991 and undated, bulk 1907-1952
- Financial Records Series, 1855-1985 and undated, bulk 1900-1975
- Legal Papers, 1793-1983 and undated, bulk 1910-1983
- Directors' Minutes Series, 1926-1983
- Visual Materials Series, 1901-1980 and undated
- Printed Materials Series, 1880-1990 and undated, bulk 1907-1990
- Subject Files Series, 1852-1987
- Memorabilia Series, 1920-1948 and undated
- Miscellaneous Series, 1879-1978 and undated
- Previously Restricted Materials, 1916-1987 and undated, bulk 1950s-1987
- Oversize Materials
Access to the Collection
Collection is open.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
In addition, all or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Also, some of the materials in this collection are not immediately accessible, because they require further processing before use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in the records of the E. F. Craven Company have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], E. F. Craven Company Records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Consists of letters and copies of letters to and from the Cravens, their employees, and their business associates. Arranged chronologically by year. In years for which a large amount of correspondence exists, the letters are arranged in one to six-month increments. Includes two letter copy books containing letters written by Eli A. Craven and Eli Franklin Craven between 1901 and 1905.
Includes statements, invoices, reports, tax forms, cancelled stock certificates, and payroll records. Most of the items were generated by the E. F. Craven Company and its suppliers. Arranged chronologically by year. Refer to container list for description of volumes. See oversize material as well.
Early legal papers consist of land transactions, property inventories, summonses, and wills. Among the other items are contracts between E. F. Craven Company and various manufacturers of road machinery regarding the sale of their products; documents regarding the 1968 controversy over the North Carolina Highway Commission's specifications for road machinery; the 1974 merger agreement between E. F. Craven Company and Pitt Realty Corporation; and the 1975 purchase agreement between E. F. Craven Company and Brocar, Incorporated. Arranged chronologically by year.
Includes a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation and the by-laws of E. F. Craven Company as well as a continuous run of the minutes of the Board of Directors from 1926-1983. Arranged chronologically.
Photographs, demonstration catalogs, and 16mm. motion picture films of machinery sold by E. F. Craven Company; photographs of the Craven family and company employees; and pictures of the E. F. Craven Company buildings and construction sites comprise this series.
[Originals of films are closed to use. Technical Services staff need to arrange for use copies to be made before contents can be accessed. Please contact Research Services staff before coming to use the collection.]
Arranged in three general categories: Machinery (subdivided alphabetically by manufacturer), People, and Places. Items are arranged chronologically by year within these categories with some exceptions being made due to housing constraints. Refer to the container list for descriptions of films and volumes. Also see oversize material.
[Original films are closed to use. Technical Services staff need to arrange for use copies to be made before contents can be accessed. Please contact Research Services staff before coming to use the collection.]
Consists of unused stationery, serials, advertisements, catalogs, and pamphlets produced by E. F. Craven Company and machinery companies with whom they did business as well as articles and a book written by Eli Franklin Craven. Includes clippings of articles about E. F. Craven Company and the Craven family. See container list for description of volumes.
Consists of papers related to organizations or topics of interest to members of the Craven family. Groupings include Better Schools and Roads, Inc.; Genealogy; Greensboro Y.M.C.A.; Juvenilia; and the Religious Society of Friends. Arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically by year within each subject.
Promotional items such as pencils, rulers, and luggage tags distributed by E. F. Craven Company and suppliers.
Includes a notebook of biblical texts for sermons, pages from datebooks and appointment calendars, mailing lists, and drafts of editorials. Arranged chronologically by year.
Files contain various correspondence, business, legal, personal, and financial papers that had been restricted by F. Duval Craven for his lifetime. Material is now open to use. Materials relate to and were collected by F. Duval Craven, but many family members are represented, especially in the correspondence. The correspondence spans five decades and is divided into two groups: personal letters exchanged between F. Duval Craven and many family members, and business correspondence, much of it having to do with the Craven Company's contracts with the State of NC Highway Commission. Most of the correspondence is incoming, addressed to F. Duval Craven. Legal and financial papers include wills, legal contracts, legal suits and other disputes or issues, and memos and correspondence about the family business. The personal papers, a small group, include newspaper clippings, a few photographs, some memorabilia, post cards, grade school report cards, receipts from business/vacation trips, and campaign and political papers (electoral ballots)
The final group of folders contain aptitude tests carried out by a national testing firm on Craven Company employees during the fifties and sixties. These folders offer a detailed record of testing methods in the corporate world of the fifties and sixties. Some of the test reports are annotated by Craven after many years as to the outcome of the employee's performance, and note his assessment of this type of psychological and character testing.
The materials were sealed in envelopes. During processing they were kept in original order as found in envelopes (each folder or group of folders represents the contents of an envelope), then arranged by series in rough chronological order, with resulting date overlap between folders. Aptitude test folders are closed to research until 2016.
Eli Franklin Craven sold road building machinery built by various manufacturers
Craven built his first office building (13,000 square feet) on Morehead Avenue in Greensboro, NC
Craven built larger three-story building adjoining his existing one and facing on Elm Street
Craven incorporated his business as E. F. Craven Company. His son Franklin Duval Craven began working for him as a salesman
F. Duval Craven became President of the company after his father's death
E. F. Craven Company was sold to Brocar, Inc., retaining same officers and employees. Company's name changed to EFC Associates, Inc.
F. Duval Craven retired
|1993 Mar. 30||
Death of F. Duval Craven
Although Eli Franklin Craven founded the company named for him, the Craven family's involvement in the sale of road-building machinery began with his father Eli Asbury Craven (1824-1912). The elder Craven, a Methodist minister, sold farm and road machinery in Causey, NC before 1895. Around the turn of the century, both he and his son represented Acme Road Machinery, a company based in Frankfort, New York. Eli F. Craven sold machines produced by other companies as well, including Studebaker Brothers, Russell Grader Manufacturing Company, and John Deere Plow Company. Soon he became known to his customers as "E. F. Craven, the Road Machinery Man."
Craven's business flourished after the 1921 issuance of North Carolina's first road bonds. In 1926, after the incorporation of the company, Craven changed the slogan to "E. F. Craven Company, the Road Machinery Men," and sales totalled over $1,000,000.00. Eli Franklin Craven was manager. His son, F. Duval Craven, worked for the company as a salesperson.
During the 1940's, Franklin Duval Craven took an increasingly active role in the management of the company. Duval served as General Manager by 1948. At his father's death in 1964, he became the president of E. F. Craven Company. At this time, his brother Edwin Asbury Craven (1909-1966) was Vice-President and Treasurer. In 1977, F. Duval Craven gave up many of the operating responsibilities of the company. Charles A. Hines, Jr. became President and Chief Operating Officer.
In November 1975, F. Duval Craven sold the company to John J. Brogan of West Chatham, Massachusetts and Charles C. Carson of New York City (Brocar, Inc.), who changed the name to EFC Associates. The company retained the same officers and staff.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Craven, Eli Franklin, 1875-1964
- Craven, Eli Asbury, 1824-1912
- Craven, F. Duval (Franklin Duval), 1906-1993
- E. F. Craven Co.
- EFC Associates, Inc.
- E. F. Craven Company
- Society of Friends -- North Carolina
- Business records
- Children's writings, American
- Corporations -- North Carolina -- History -- 20th century
- Construction equipment
- Earthmoving machinery
- Family corporations -- North Carolina
- Road construction -- Equipment and supplies
- Road construction -- North Carolina -- History
- Road machinery -- Trade and manufacture
- Road machinery
- Road construction equipment industry -- History
The E. F. Craven Company Records were donated to the Manuscript Department in 1978 by Franklin Duval Craven, the son of Eli Franklin Craven. Mr. Craven also provided support for the processing of the collection.
Processed by Melissa J. Delbridge, Kelly Cottrell, Edna Riggs, and Sandra Hack
Encoded by Robin LaPasha