Collection of miscellaneous material collected by Willis T. Hanson, Jr.
1 cubic foot
Scope and Content:
The collection is composed of a variety of documents collected by Willis T. Hanson, Jr. Some of the materials in the collection have a direct or indirect connection to Hanson, including correspondence regarding his books and his father’s materials related to the purchase of property on Kruesi Avenue for the General Electric Company. Most of the materials in the collection appear to have been collected for their historical interest. Many documents pertain to Montgomery County and Schenectady County and consist primarily of legal documents. The collection also includes election records, church records, signatures, bonds, correspondence, licenses for inns and taverns, broadsides, and materials related to prominent people not connected to the area. The collection contains correspondence and other documents related to Giles Yates, Edward Wemple, and Abraham Van Horne.
Other than the Kruesi Avenue materials, the collection does not contain information about the activities of Willis T. Hanson, Sr. The collection contains a scrapbook of material related to the books written by Willis T. Hanson, Jr. but does not contain a significant amount of material that pertains to his business, civic, or personal activities.
Biographical / Historical:
Willis Tracy Hanson, Jr. (1882-1978) was born in Schenectady to Willis Tracy Hanson, Sr. (1858-1933) and Margaret Vedder (1858-1937). Hanson attended Dr. Holbrook’s Military School from 1897 to 1901 and received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University. He also was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Union College. He married Julia Devereux (1882-1969) and the couple had two children: Margaret (b. 1907) and Devereux (b. 1908).
Hanson is perhaps best known as the author of A History of Schenectady during the American Revolution (1916), which was cited in the Schenectady Gazette in 1978 as “possibly the only reliable resource volume on the area’s history during the Revolutionary War period.” Hanson was also the author of The Early Life of John Howard Payne (1913) and A History of St. George’s Church in the city of Schenectady (1919). His History of Schenectady during the American Revolution was reissued in 1974.
In addition to his work as a historian and writer, Hanson was also active in banking, serving as the vice president of the Union National Bank beginning in 1918. He succeeded his father as president of the bank in 1933. He remained president of the bank until it was voluntarily liquidated in 1947. He was also member of the first board of directors of the Schenectady Hotel Company, serving as its treasurer from 1923-1951.
Hanson was also involved in the community. He was a member of the first board of directors of the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce, was the Chamber’s first treasurer, and was an executive committee member of all World War I Liberty Loan drives in Schenectady. He was a founder of the Schenectady Rotary Club and the Community Chest. He was also a member of St. George’s Episcopal Church, the Mohawk Golf Club, the Mohawk Club, Sons of the American Revolution, Order of the Founders and Patriots, Society of Colonial Wars, Dutch Settlers of Albany County, Alpha Phi Delta fraternity, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and the New York Historical Society.