Francis Craig Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MSS.0091

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The Francis Craig Collection contains material ranging in date from 1919 to 1994 and makes up 2.51 linear feet. The papers include personal and biographical information, correspondence, memorabilia, and photographs. The major portion of the collection, however, dates from the 1930’s and 1940’s and consists of clippings, sheet music, and recordings.

The papers are arranged in five series:

Series I: General file, 1919-1994 Biographical and personal information, correspondence, memorabilia, information regarding the donation of memorabilia to the Hermitage Hotel, publicity flyers, radio scripts, and the appellee’s brief filed in response to a copyright lawsuit lodged unsuccessfully against Craig over the tune “Near You.”

Series II Clippings and Publications, 1930-1990, nd Clippings of articles and advertisements about Craig’s tours and performances and about the success of “Near You” and other songs, clippings, of articles and obituaries of people associated with Craig’s band, photocopies of scrapbooks, and scattered issues of various publications containing references to Craig.

Series III Sheet Music, 1924-1961 Sheet music and orchestrations of Craig’s compositions and works by other composers that Craig recorded.

Series IV Photographs, c. 1930’s and 1940’s Photographs of Francis Craig and others, as well as pictures of billboards and marquees from his tours.

Series V Recordings, 1940-1962, nd Long play and single records, audio cassettes, and 7 ½ ips reel-to-reel tapes. These recordings are primarily music with some interviews.

Dates

  • 1919 - 1994
  • Majority of material found within 1930s-1940s

Biographical Note

Francis Jackson Craig was born in Dickson, Tennessee, on September 10, 1900, the ninth of ten children of a Methodist minister. Craig entered Vanderbilt University in January 1919 after a brief stint in the Army between his eighteenth birthday and the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. A talented pianist, he formed a dance band in 1920 to help pay his college expenses. After graduating in 1922, he continued his music career. On October 20, 1924, he married Elizabeth Gewin, whom he met while performing in Birmingham, Alabama.

For the first few years, his band kept busy playing dances, parties, and proms. In 1924, they received a two-week engagement to play at the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville. That “two-week” engagement lasted until 1946. From 1925 to 1947, the band’s performances were broadcast live over WSM radio in Nashville and were carried on national network radio. They also toured extensively during that period and made numerous recordings. Craig and his band recorded at various times on the Columbia, MGM, Bullet, and Decca labels. Nationally recognized entertainers who got their start with Francis Craig included James Melton, Snooky Lanson, Kenny Sargent, Phil Harris, and Dinah Shore.

In 1946, Craig decided to give up performing and took a position as a disc jockey at WSM. His farewell recording, however, became a hit and led to two more years of touring and personal appearances. “Near You” on the Bullet label, became the first recording done in Nashville to sell over a million copies; it eventually sold in excess of two and a half million. In addition, seventeen other companies recorded the song. The next year Craig’s “Beg Your Pardon” also became a hit and went on to sell more than a million copies. Craig is also famous for Vanderbilt’s Dynamite song. After touring in 1947 and 1948, Craig returned to Nashville to work for the radio station. He died on November 20, 1966.

Extent

2.51 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Overview

The Francis Craig Collection contains material ranging in date from 1919 to 1994 and makes up 2.51 linear feet. The papers include personal and biographical information, correspondence, memorabilia, and photographs. The major portion of the collection, however, dates from the 1930’s and 1940’s and consists of clippings, sheet music, and recordings.

Physical Location

Special Collections & Archives
Title
Finding Aid for the Francis Craig Collection
Status
Completed
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States


 

About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

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