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Harry Hansen papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Hansen

Scope and Content of the Collection

The collection is made up primarily of correspondence from fellow journalists, novelists, historians, and poets such as Ben Hecht and Hendrik Willem Van Loon. Correspondents also include journalists Charles Dennis, Paul Scott Mowrer, Henry Justin Smith, John Gunther, Walter Allen White, and Vincent Starrett, as well as Van Wyck Brooks, Burton Rascoe, Alfred A. Knopf, Bennett Cerf, Jack Conroy, Floyd Dell, Sherwood Anderson, Eunice Tietjens, and many others. These letters date mostly from Hansen's time in New York. Author subject files contain clippings, memorabilia and biographical sketches written by Hansen. Collection also contains a few clippings of Hansen's literary criticism, artworks and photographs (mostly publicity shots).


  • Creation: 1900-1974



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Harry Hansen papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Harry Hansen papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Harry Hansen

Writer, editor, and literary critic.

Harry Hansen was born in Davenport, Iowa on December 26, 1884. After graduating from high school in Iowa, he became telegraph editor and writer for the Davenport Republican. Hansen came to Chicago to study English at the University of Chicago and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1909.

In 1911 he was hired by the Chicago Daily News and in 1914 was sent overseas to cover World War I in Europe, eventually taking over the foreign desk in Chicago when the United States entered the conflict. In 1920 he became literary editor of the Daily News and remained with the paper until joining the New York World in 1926 as "First Reader." At the World he made the book review column a daily feature and continued as book editor after the newspaper's merger with the New York Telegram. He also contributed literary criticism to the Chicago Tribune, Harper's Magazine, and Redbook, and from 1933 to 1940 edited the O. Henry Prize Stories. He lectured widely, and had book review radio programs in both Chicago and New York. His book commentary was syndicated in magazines across the country. He also wrote several historical books including The Adventures of the Fourteen Points, Midwest Portraits, Carl Sandburg: The Man and his Poetry, and one novel, Your Life Lies Before You.

Hansen married Ruth McLernon in 1914 and had two daughters, Ruth Eleanor and Marian. He died as a result of a stroke on January 3, 1977.


5 Linear Feet (9 boxes and 1 oversize folder)


Correspondence, subject files, photographs and artwork of newspaper writer and editor Harry Hansen.


Papers are arranged by type of material.

Collection Stack Location

1 20 7, 1 21 7


Purchased in 1989.

Processed by

Kelly Kress and Shannon Yule, 2007.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Harry Hansen papers, 1900-1974
Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States