I did not immediately recall T. James Crawford from my high school years (yes, many years ago) but I certainly do remember his most influential publication. As soon as I saw a copy of Century 21 Typewriting sitting in one of our archival boxes I immediately had flashbacks of my particularly vocal typing teacher calling out for my peers and I to watch our posture and directing us to repeat the various exercises until we had them down to perfection. For some this was a pleasant experience, but for those of us that had taught ourselves to type had to unlearn and learn the Crawford way. I never thought much about the individuals behind the book, but I must say what typing skills I have today, I owe to late IU professor T. James Crawford.
Basic advice on proper typing from Crawford’s Century 21 Typewriting
Crawford first came to Indiana University in 1942. The United States was at this point completely immersed in the Second World War and he came to assist with organizing the U.S. Naval Training School that was being developed in support of the war effort. During the short time that he was here he became the supervisor of instruction in the U.S. Navy School for Yeomen and Storekeepers as well as assisted with the development of the program for the first group of WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
Crawford himself was called to active duty as a supply officer for a Seabee battalion, a type of militarized construction force for the Navy, in the South Pacific. Not long after the war, in 1946, Crawford again returned to Indiana University, this time to stay. He began as a faculty lecturer in the School of Business and later become chairman of the Department of Administrative Systems and Business Education. He held this position for an impressive 15 years.
During the late 1950s, Crawford, like many others, believed that television could play a key role in education. Crawford is habitually referred to as a pioneer in teaching on television. For some years Professor Crawford produced and taught on educational programs for both commercial and educational TV networks. The charismatic Crawford taught both shorthand and typing but it is his typing that he is best remembered as many homes had a typewriter in them and people had a desire to use them effectively.
A ‘Fan’ letter for Crawford’s instructional television show in 1957.
An undated article writing about the success of Crawford’s instructional program.
Because of his interest in students and his dedication to instruction Professor Crawford was selected as one of the 10 professors who had most influenced student lives. Eventually, he retired in the spring of 1987 and remained in Bloomington until his death in August of 2000.
The Crawford collection holds his correspondence, teaching materials and publications (which of course includes a fine copy of the Century 21 Typewriting). Contact the Archives if you would like further information about this or any of its holdings!