Friday, April 1, 2011

The Willis T. Hanson Jr. Collection

I have recently begun working with the Willis T. Hanson Jr. collection here in the library. Willis Hanson Jr. was an historian, writing ‘A History of Schenectady during the American Revolution,’ ‘The Early Life of John Howard Payne’ and ‘A History of St. George’s Church in the City of Schenectady.’ His father, Willis Hanson Sr. was a druggist, involved in selling ‘Dr. Williams Pink Pills for Pale People’
The collection was originally donated in 2001, its contents listed and then the boxes pushed aside. However, now that it has come to our attention again, it is showing itself to be a remarkable collection and resource. After a preliminary study of the collection it seems to cover aspects of Hanson’s personal papers, including correspondence with Yale University Press and notes from his books. The files include copies, and some original documents used by Hanson as sources for his books.  The collection also includes some documents pertaining to his father’s involvement in the purchase of Kruesi Ave. and its presentation to G.E.
In total, the collection includes over 900 documents and will require much more attention, before we know the full extent of its importance.  However, already it is clearly a wonderful resource for the library and destined to contain more than a few treasures pertaining to Schenectady’s past.


  1. i was wondering if there were any papers in his collection containing information about his family's past. I am the great-granddaughter of his aunt and am working on family genealogy and interested in learning more about this side of the family. I was wondering if looking into his collection would be f benefit?

    dorothy luparielo

    1. Thanks for writing, Dorothy. The bulk of the collection consists of materials of historical interest collected by Hanson. A complete finding aid for the Willis T. Hanson, Jr. Collection can be found here:
      However, we do have other materials in our collection that may help in researching the genealogy of the family. Please email for more details.