John Finley Crowe moved his family to southeastern Indiana to become pastor of the Hanover Presbyterian Church in 1823. In the years to follow, Crowe would found the Hanover Academy, which later became Hanover College, and ultimately, leave a legacy that has lasted nearly 200 years.

In 1827, Crowe started the Hanover Academy to train ministers to serve in the developing states of the West. From its beginning with just six students – all sons of Presbyterian elders, the school would grow to become Hanover College in 1833.

Faculty John Finley Crowe statement

Crowe served the College as vice president and professor of theology until his retirement in 1857. He continued to teach classes until January 1859, but would die just 12 months later after a lengthy battle with failing health.

The Crowe Family Papers, an extensive collection of personal and business communication that spans 130 years, has been housed at Hanover’s Joseph Wood Evans Special Collections and Archives Center for generations. These documents will be made available online to the public through a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

One of the archive’s most requested collections, the Crowe Family Papers date from 1811-1948 and contain business and personal correspondence, historical accounts, journals, sermons, lecture notes and photographs documenting the life of Crowe, his family, the College and Presbyterian Church. These unique manuscripts provide not only a fascinating look into the College’s beginnings, but also a glimpse at early Indiana history, 19th-century social customs, slavery, abolition, westward migration, women in the 19th century, and the Presbyterian Church.

Hanover’s funding will be used to hire students to scan documents, edit transcripts and create metadata prior to final review and online upload. Once complete, the digitization will make the Crowe Family Papers accessible through the Hanover College Digital Collections. Online availability will give researchers easier access to materials, aid in promotion of the collection and alleviate preservation concerns that come with constant handling of historic documents.

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Online access to the Crowe Family Papers is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and administered by the Indiana State Library. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement.

Hanover’s archives and special collections, located on the second floor of the Duggan Library, is open to the public, free of charge, Monday-Friday from 9-11 a.m. and 1-5 p.m. School groups are welcome and encouraged to attend. Contact Jen Duplaga, archives and public services librarian, at (812) 866-7181 or, to arrange a visit and/or viewing.