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Ralph W. Hansen papers, 1945-2009


MSS 294



            Ralph W. Hansen (b. 1927) pursued a career in archives and libraries in the Western United States for thirty-six years.  A native of New York City, he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx in 1945 and went directly into the military, serving with the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1945 to 1947.  Much of his service was with the 351st Infantry Regiment in Italy, where he achieved the rank of staff sergeant.  On his return to the U.S. he moved West and entered college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  There he earned both bachelors and masters degrees in history, in 1951 and 1954 respectively.  He  worked for one year as a social science teacher in Orem, Utah, before being hired as an assistant reference librarian at Brigham Young in September 1953.  In 1956, he became University Archivist and Manuscript Librarian at BYU.  He moved to Stanford University in 1962 to take the position of Curator of the Stanford Collection (University Archives) and Manuscripts Librarian in 1962.  Hansen was named Chief Librarian of the Acquisitions Department at Stanford in 1967 while retaining the position of University Archivist.  As University Archivist, he gave numerous presentations on Stanford history to university and community groups, as many as thirty or forty a year. While at Stanford, he also earned a masters degree in library science from the University of California Berkeley.  In 1979 Hansen moved to Boise, Idaho to become Associate University Librarian at Boise State University.  He retired from that position in 1989.  Notable achievements in his career included work as the first archivist in the Brigham Young University Archives (1956), organizing the Associates (Friends) of the Stanford University Library (1973), coordinating the restoration of more than 50,000 books damaged by a flood at Stanford (1979), and working as project director of the Senator Frank Church papers processing project at Boise State University (1985-1988).   His many publications include "Buchanan's Blunder: The Utah War, 1857-1858," coauthored with Richard D. Poll (Military Affairs 25, 1961), "Mormon Economic Organization: A Sheaf of Documents," coauthored with Leonard J. Arrington (Utah Historical Quarterly 28, 1960), and The Frank Church Papers: A Summary Guide (coauthored with Deborah J. Roberts, 1988).  For many years he served as book review editor for the independent journal Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Ralph Hansen and his wife Lillian, a former kindergarten teacher, remained in Boise after their retirement until moving to Hillsboro, Oregon, in 2011.


                                                                                                            --Alan Virta, 2011




The Collection


            Ralph W. Hansen divided his papers into two main series which he called Writings and Correspondence.  The Writings consist of articles he wrote for historical, library, and archives journals, numerous book reviews, conference programs in which he was represented, press notices about his presentations and publications, and other news clippings documenting his career.  The Correspondence, arranged chronologically, is both professional and personal.  Appended to these two main series are biographical sources, an interview focusing on Hansen's role in organizing the university archives at Brigham Young University, his writings on the history of Stanford University's library and archives, and a folder of publications and photos about the Stanford library flood and the book restoration project.  One thick file of correspondence addresses the Northwest Book Service, a short-lived effort to establish an out-of-print book service in Boise, Idaho, in the early 1980s, with comments on the bookselling scene in Boise and the West.  Mr. Hansen donated his papers to the Library at Boise State University in 2011.  An oral history interview concerning his military service is located in the American Folklife Center at the Library Congress, part of the Veterans History Project (AFC/2001/001/43301).


                                                                        Collection number:  MSS 294
                                                                        Inclusive dates:  1945-2009
                                                                        Size of collection: ca. 3 ft. (in 5 boxes)
                                                                        Processed by: Ralph Hansen; finding aid by
                                                                                    Alan Virta, 2011




Box and Folder List



Box 1:  Writings

Folder  1         Bound volume, Writings 1954-1962
Folder  2         Writings, 1963-1964
Folder  3         Writings, 1965
Folder  4         Writings, 1966


Box 2: Writings

Folder  1         Writings, 1967
Folder  2         Writings, 1968
Folder  3         Writings, 1969
Folder  4         Writings, 1970-1971
Folder  5         Writings, 1972-1973
Folder  6         Writings, 1974-1975
Folder  7         Writings, 1976-1977


Box 3: Writings

Folder  1         Writings, 1978-1979
Folder  2         Writings, 1980
Folder  3         Writings, 1981-1986
Folder  4         Writings, 1987-1988
Folder  5         Writings, 1989
Folder  6         Writings, 1990-2005


Box  4: Correspondence

Folder  1         Correspondence, 1954-1956
Folder  2         Correspondence, 1960-1962
Folder  3         Correspondence, 1963-1970
Folder  4         Correspondence, 1971-1974
Folder  5         Correspondence, 1975-1977
Folder  6         Correspondence, 1978
Folder  7         Correspondence, 1979
Folder  8         Correspondence, 1979-1985
Folder  9         Correspondence, 1986-1987
Folder 10        Correspondence, 1988-1989
Folder 11        Correspondence, 1990-1995


Box 5: Correspondence

Folder  1         Correspondence, 1997-1999
Folder  2         Correspondence, 1997-2009
Folder  3         Correspondence, 2006-2008
Folder  4         Corrrespondence re article, "Buchannan's Blunder," 1957-1962
Folder  5         Correspondence re Northwest Book Service (business venture), 1980-1983


Box 5:  Other papers

Folder  6         Brigham Young University Archives history: interview transcript, 2009
Folder  7         Stanford University Library and Archives history: writings
Folder  8         Stanford University flood and book restoration, 1979
Folder  9         Certificates, 1945 and later
Folder 10        Resume; Biographical
Folder 11        Book inscriptions to Ralph Hansen (photocopies)


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