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John Hafen papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 356

Scope and Contents

John Hafen papers consists of family correspondence (1819-1910) describing travels, family, religion, the art world, and about business. Also included correspondence to First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also included are patriarchal blessings; certificates, receipts and mementoes; family history and genealogy; news clippings; a notebook; notes; diaries; buisness ledgers; and financial accounts.


  • 1879-1918


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research. Use photocopies of the correspondence unless permission to use the originals is obtained from the Board of Curators.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from John Hafen Collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Hafen was a Utah artist, Brigham Young Academy instructor of art (1892-1894), and one of the founders of the Springville Art Museum in Springville, Utah. John Hafen was born March 22, 1856, in Canton Thurgan, Switzerland. When he was six years old his family emigrated to Utah. In 1879 he married Thora Twede and to their union were born ten children. Much of their married life was spent apart as John traveled around the country trying to find a market for his paintings. In 1890, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sponsored John's art training at the Julian Academy in Paris. After his return he painted wall murals in the Salt Lake Temple. During this time period he also won several awards. In 1900 he was awarded the State Prize by the Utah Art Institute. In 1902 he won the medal of honor from the Utah Art Institute and first prize for both the best work of art and the best landscape from the Utah State Fair. Hafen concentrated primarily on landscapes, however, he later became a successful portrait painter in Indiana. He died June 10, 1910 at the age of fifty-four.


2 boxes (1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of correspondence, a diary of John's wife, Thora Hafen (January 1901-May 1901), a notebook, certificates, family genealogies, mementos, illustrated programs of Hafen's art exhibits, and newspaper clippings which laud Hafen's art. Part of the collection was represented in a catalog entitled A Step Beyond: Artist's Archives and Creative Process, presented by the Special Collections and Archives and Manuscripts of Brigham Young University, 1987.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

Program of the art exhibit featuring Hafen's illustrations of Eliza R. Snow's poem. "Oh, My Father," were donated to the Harold B. Lee library by Joseph Hafen and Rachel Hafen Stewart.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Program of the art exhibit featuring Hafen's illustrations of Eliza R. Snow's poem. "Oh, My Father," were donated to the Harold B. Lee library by Joseph Hafen and Rachel Hafen Stewart. Mss 356 was cataloged about 1960. In Feb. 1985, two accessions of new material, numbers A84-111 and A84-113, were added the collection.


Arts and Communications.

Related Materials

The following materials are available in the Special Collections Department of the Harold B. Lee Library: a catalog entitled Oh My Father of eight paintings by John Hafen, 1908-1909, beautifully illustrating the words of the poem by Eliza R. Snow (1 deluxe copy, a gift from LeRoy Hafen) and a musical arrangement by Frank W. Merrill, as sung by Mr. Robert C. Easton, located in Americana BX 8608 Ala #1805a; two additional souvenir copies of the Oh My Father catalog, located in Americana Bx 8608 Ala #1805 C2; The Kaysville Art Club, Pioneers of Utah Art, 1968, biographical sketch of John Hafen's life and a list of pictures on display at an exhibition sale of his works dated 1910 November 10, located at 709.792 k189p; B.F. Larsen, John Hafen, Artist: Research and Compilation, a bound scrapbook presented as a gift to the BYU Library, located at Americana M270.1 H1191; B.F. Larsen, The Meaning of Religion in the Life of John Hafen, from The Improvement Era, 1936 January, pp. 155-160; B.F. Larsen, A Brief from an Illustrated Paper on the Life of John Hafen, from Proceedings of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, 1935, Volume XII pp. 93-94; William Lee Roy Conant, Jr. A Study Of The Life Of John Hafen Artist With An Analysis And Critical Review Of His Work, a thesis presented to the Department of Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1969, 700.2 C742; and Thomas A. Leek, A Circumspection of Ten Formulators of Early Utah Art History , Provo, Utah, 1961, pp. 30-39, 700.2 L517

Separated Materials

Four photographs (snapshots) were transferred to Photo Archives. One of them appears to be a view of the setting for Hafen's painting entitled A Landmark by the Roadside.

Processing Information

Processed; Dennis Rowley; 1997.

Register of John Hafen papers
Andrea Wyss
2011 March 18
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States