The Hanley Collection

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T. Edward Hanley

"In his quiet, unobtrusive manner, Dr. Hanley reflects the very culture of learning which he strives to endow.  Like Lorenzo de Medici, under whom the Italian Renaissance reached its apogee, Dr. Hanley has spent tremendous sums out of his own pocket on art and books.  It is a reverence for learning that is rare and wonderful."  Fr. Irenaeus Herscher, Friedsam Library.

T. Edward Hanley was a Bradford, Pennsylvania businessman who gathered together a world class collection of literature and art.  

He donated over two hundred of those art works to the St. Bonaventure University art collection, as well as tens of thousands of books to Friedsam Library's collection.

 from Tullah Hanley's autobiography

     Thomas Edward Hanley was born in 1893 in Bradford, PA.  He was born into an industrial family, owning and running a local brick factory and also involved in the American oil and gas industry. 

     Hanley was a graduate of Harvard University, class of 1915.  It was during his time at Harvard that he began collecting.  He started with manuscripts and first editions.  He usually bought these works on an installment plan using the money his father sent him as an allowance to pay for his collecting passion. He eventually acquired an original edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.  Other authors he enjoyed collecting were D. H. Lawrence, G. B. Shaw, Dylan Thomas, and Samuel Beckett. Some of the most important items from the Hanley Collection were the corrected page proofs for James Joyce's Ulysses (eventually donated to the University of Texas at Austin).

His quiet style, coupled with the fact that few were aware of the scale of his collection, allowed him to haunt bookshops and galleries relatively anonymously.  He also anticipated the future popularity of many of the artists and authors he collected, gathering their works into his rural retreat before they became well known.  This evolved into a tremendously valuable collection, though Hanley's motives were anything but mercenary.  Instead he wanted "always to try to think more of the things with eternal value--the art which people will want to look at 100 years from now and maybe 1,000."  


He began donating books to universities on a large scale in 1936.  The story goes that a visit to an acquaintance from his days at Harvard, Dean Arthur Olaf Andersen, at the University of Arizona, revealed a young institution's pressing need for books.  Since the reason for his trip was a book buying tour of the west coast, it was natural for him to begin donating to their library.  "I thought this gift would open new horizons in a poverty-stricken area.  I felt it was a wonderful way of helping humanity." (Bradford Era) He became the single greatest private donor to the University.  Over a twenty-eight year period he donated 38,000 volumes.  He received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Arizona in 1941, and the president's special 75th Anniversary Medallion in 1960. (Sorensen, 18, 25)

T. Edward Hanley met Tullah Innes in Buffalo.  She was a dancer and art lover who had  traveled extensively before she married Hanley.  She had a broad range of friends, never backing away from a chance to talk to anyone.  With Dr. Hanley, she shared a unique look and passion for art and encouraged his philanthropic efforts.  They married on Christmas Day, 1948.

Tullah with Surrealist artist Salvador Dali
from Tullah Hanley's autobiography


Unidentified, T. Edward Hanley, and  Fr. Irenaeus Herscher, O.F.M, look over some books just donated by Mr. Hanley. 

    Around this time he began donating to other schools, particularly Harvard, Princeton, and St. Bonaventure, as well as the local library and school.  He gave St. Bonaventure's Friedsam Library 40,000 volumes of texts, mainly dealing with art and art history.  Many of these volumes are still in circulation today, identifiable by their individual book plates.

Over the course of his book giving career, Hanley donated over 100,000 volumes.


Over 1,000 pieces of art were kept in the Hanley's Bradford, PA home.  Described as "The Non-Immaculate Collection" by New York Times art critic John Canaday, very few people had the opportunity to visit the art in its "natural" setting.  This made it a major revelation to the art community when parts of it were shown around the country. 

Many well known institutions, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he also served on the Board of Governors, and The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, among several in New York State, have displayed parts of the Hanley Collection.  Here you can see some of his pieces in transit between his home and New York City.

A large showing at Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art of 300 pieces was held in 1967.  One critic was quoted saying, "We simply lost our cool over the collection."  (New York)

Art was also an important part of his philanthropic vision.  Saint Bonaventure received over two hundred pieces.  Other institutions who hold pieces of the Hanley Collection in their own collections now are: The Denver Art Museum, The M.H. de Young Museum (now part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), University of Texas, University of Arizona, Harvard University, The Albright-Knox Gallery and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Hanley's extensive manuscript collection was purchased by the University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center.

T. Edward Hanley died December 9, 1969, after complications during a medical procedure.  His art works went to his wife who carried on his philanthropic works.

Tullah Hanley Biography

A list of the Hanley Collection folders is here.

For more information about T. Edward Hanley, and other Friedsam Memorial Library benefactors, go to the
Builders of the Friedsam Collection site.


All information for this website was drawn from the Hanley files of the St. Bonaventure University Archives and the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts collections.  For a list of specific references used go here.
All images are the property of St. Bonaventure University and subject to copyright.  

This graphic image, which appears on the home page and in the border at the top of these pages, was extracted from a book plate belonging to one of the 40,000 books T. Edward Hanley donated to the Friedsam Memorial Library, St Bonaventure N.Y. 

The design was created by Dean Arthur Olaf Andersen of the University of Arizona around 1940.  It includes representations of all the humanities represented in Hanley's gifts.  Look for the comedic mask, palette, dancer and treble clef. (Sorensen, 15)

Created by Ethan Atwood for History 419, Computer and Archival Skills for Historians, during the Fall 2003 semester.

Any changes, other than minor editing, are noted at the bottom of the affected page.

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Herscher and Hanley quotes added 01/23/04 by D. Frank
Reviewers added 01/28/04 by D. Frank
Sorensen material added 2/25/04 by D. Frank
Art recipients added 3/4/04 by D. Frank
Last updated:  04/26/13

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 Created by Ethan Atwood