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George H. Hansen photograph collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1628

Scope and Contents note

There are many albums containing photographs in this collection. Of the 5162 photographs in the collection, all of which are gelatin silver prints, 732 are in the albums. There are also 1430 slides contained in the collection of George Hansen, Afton Allred Hansen, Bessie Hansen (George’s sister), and Mildred Allred (Afton’s sister). There are 741 negatives with copy prints. George, Afton Allred, and Bessie Hansen took all of the photographs, unless otherwise noted. Some other known photographers include Dr. Albert C. Boyle and Harold Hutchings. There were printer’s plates, which were given back to the family, for the book "L. O. Hansen Family History", which is contained in the manuscript collection. There is an additional manuscript portion of this collection as well.


  • approximately 1896-1980


Conditions Governing Access note

All of the collection, except the negatives, is open for public use. However, it is kept in cold storage and access requires 24 hours advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use note

Permission to publish material from the George H. Hansen photograph collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Board of Curators.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Biographical History

George H. Hansen was a practicing geologist, university professor and administrator at Brigham Young University for a period of 45 years. He spent time (1959-1963) in Indonesia establishing a geology department at the Gadjah Mada University in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.

George Henry Hansen, the fourth of nine children (the second of six children that lived) was born to Lars Peter (Pete or L.P.) and Sorene Sorensen Hansen on June 28, 1896 in Richfield, UT. His brothers were Wilford and Russell (Russ), who married Iona Muriel Jessen (Muriel). His sisters were Bessie; Dora, who married James Hyland McDonald (Jim) and had a son named James Hansen McDonald (Jimmy); and Ruth, who married William Grant (Bill). Sorene’s sister, Marry Sorensen Crawford, passed away and her sons Ed and Charles Crawford lived with the Hansen family.

George graduated from Richfield High School in the spring of 1915 as class valedictorian, delivering the class address at the commencement exercises. He then attended Utah State Agricultural College from 1915-spring of 1918 and received a B.S. degree in geology.

After college, George worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, classifying enlarged homesteads in New Mexico and Montana. This only lasted for the summer because he was enlisted in the United States Army in Richfield, UT on August 29, 1918. He entered Officers’ Training School at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, KY until December 17, 1918 after the war ended. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery in the Officers’ Reserve Corps on Dec. 18, 1918, and would serve for five years. A nickname George went by while in the army was “Swen.”

From January –August 1919, George worked at potash mine in Green River, WY, then as a predatory animal control agent in the Castle Valley and Sevier Forests. He resigned in September 1919 to accept a mission call for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1919-1921. He served for approximately nine to ten months in the Eastern States (Jamestown, Rochester, and Auburn in the state of New York), then approximately 18-19 months in England, sailing there in July 1920. His mission president in England was George Albert Smith.

After his mission, George married Afton Christina Allred of Fountain Green, UT in the Manti Temple. They had four children: Don, Alan, Carol (was born with her name spelled Carol, but changed it to Carole in college because there were so many with the name of Carol Hansen), and Helen.

George continued his work with the U.S. Geological Survey during the summers working in New Mexico, Utah, and Montana. Also during this time, he received his M.S. degree from George Washington University in 1925. In February of 1927, he received his Ph, D. degree in geology from George Washington University, having specialized in physical, structural, and petroleum geology. The following summer, he worked as a petroleum geologist for the Texas Oil Company in Fort Stockton, TX.

In the fall of 1927 George joined the Department of Geology at Brigham Young University and was a consultant on many petroleum and ground water projects in the Rocky Mountain region, 1927-1959. In 1928, he succeeded Murray O. Hayes as chairman of the Department of Geology and Geography, which position he held for nearly 20 years. In 1930, George served as Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at BYU, succeeding Christen Jensen, who had been acting in the place of Dean Carl F. Eyring, who had been on leave in New York and was staying for another year. George took a short leave of absence from BYU in 1934 to work as a petroleum geologist for New Jersey Oil, conducting considerable fieldwork in both Canada and Mexico. Upon the completion of his research, George returned to his professional and administrative duties. He held positions in the LDS church as well: 1937-1944 as a Sunday school teacher and 1937-1947 he was on the General Board of the YMMIA.

From 1950 (or 1951)-1954, George resumed as Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at BYU when Carl F. Eyring died. In 1951, George spoke at the dedication of BYU’s Eyring Science Center. Also that year, he received the Distinguished Science Award from the Utah Academy of Science, Arts and Letters. From 1954-1957, George served as the Dean of the Graduate School at BYU. Under his direction, preparation began for a doctoral program at BYU. George served a customary two-year term and was replaced by A. Smith Pond. When in the spring of 1959 Dr. Pond died, instead of appointing a new dean, the university administration asked George to fill the position once again. From 1957-1959, George was also a Professor of Geology at BYU.

In September 1959, George and Afton went to Jogjakarta, Indonesia where George was a Professor of Geology at Gadjah Mada University. Recruited by UCLA and sponsored by the International Cooperative Administration, George and Afton, along with a party of scientists and educators, went to the Island of Java to set up a geology department at the university.

George and Afton left Indonesia in 1963 and on the way home they visited (1) the geologically-rich island of Timor; (2) Professor Raymond Dart, pale anthropologist at Transvaal University, Johannesburg, South Africa; (3) Dr. H. S. B. and Mary Leakey at their diggings in Tanganyika’s Olduvai Gorge; and (4) Dr. G. H. R. von Koenigsvald, a Dutch anthropologist, at his home and museum in Utrecht, Holland.

He resumed teaching at BYU in 1963. On May 28, 1965 he received the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award from BYU at its Ninetieth Annual Commencement Convocation.

George retired from BYU after 45 years of service on April 24, 1972. He was honored at a reception in the Wilkinson Center Skyroom sponsored by the Geology Department. After his formal retirement, he continued to maintain an office on campus. (Some autobiographical notes, say he retired from active teaching in September 1972).

The George H. Hansen Student Award fund was set up in 1972 to receive and distribute aid to geology majors. In February 1976, George received the Meritorious Service Award from the BYU Athletic Department presented by Stan Watts, the BYU Athletic Director, and in August of the same year he received the Dr. James E. Talmage Award.

His wife, Afton, died on November 29, 1979 in Provo, UT. December 15 of the same year, George wrote a check for $10,000 to the BYU Development Office and requested the establishment of the Afton Allred Hansen Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships to undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in the College of Fine Arts and Communications. George followed Afton on February 6, 1981, where he died in Salt Lake City from a cardiac arrest after a seemingly successful recovery from an operation.

In 1985, U.S. Geological Survey approved a request that a mountain peak be named after George H. Hansen. Shortly after George’s death, Morris Peterson and Lehi Hintze of the BYU Geology Department had processed this honor to the Utah Geological Survey. (The designated peak lies in the Fish Springs Range, elevation 8523, Section T 13 S, R 14 W, Sand Pass N. W. Quadrangle, UT).


7366 items

90 boxes (45 linear ft.) : 7366 items

Language of Materials



This is primarily a collection of original Hansen prints, slides, and negatives and also includes photographic albums belonging to George Hansen, Afton Allred Hansen, and Bessie Hansen.

Arrangement note

There are four main sections to this collection: 1. George H. Hansen albums, 1914-1963; 2. George H. Hansen loose photographs, 1900-1980; 3. George H. Hansen slides, 1915-1971; and 4. George H. Hansen negatives, 1896-1972. In each of these sections there are one or more series. In the albums, there are four series: George Hansen (including his college years and mission to England), Afton Allred Hansen (her mission to the Eastern States), Bessie Hansen (George’s sister), and Mildred Allred (Afton’s sister). Following the albums are the loose photographs which have nine series: loose photographs that were in the albums, George in his early years, his schooling, family life with Afton, George in his later years, geology photographs, his work at Brigham Young University, photographs from Indonesia, and miscellaneous photographs (including the collections of other photographers such as A. C. Boyle). The slides section has four series: Hansen family; geology; trips George and Afton took, including their extended visit to Indonesia and trip to various places in Europe and the Middle East (these various places are organized alphabetically); and slides from Afton’s sister, Mildred Allred. The negatives are primarily in chronological order corresponding to the photographs. Each photograph receives a unique number. Where photographs are similar in content, a general description will be given. If there are photographs within a group of photographs that require additional description they will be listed separately.

Other Finding Aids note

A more detailed finding aid is available in print in the repository.

Other Finding Aids

Item-level inventory available online.

Custodial History note

This collection was donated by the creator, George Hansen and his family. The L. Tom Perry Special Collections received installments in 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1989.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated; George Hansen and family; 1980-1982, 1989.

Appraisal note

Photography in Utah and the American West.

Photographs (Photographic Archives Collecting Policy, 2010).

Related Archival Materials note

Missing Title

  1. Banyan. Provo, Utah: Board of Student Publications, Brigham Young University, 1927-1972.
  2. Erickson, Einer C. Geology and Uranium Mineralization in the East Gas Hills, Wyoming. Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1957.
  3. Hansen, George and Alvah Fitzgerald. A History of American Indian Origin Theories. Provo, Utah?: Utah Academy of Sciences, 1931.
  4. Hansen, George H. and Mendell M. Bell. The Oil and Gas Possibilities of Utah: Utah Geological and Mineralogical Survey. Salt Lake City: Utah Geological and Mineralogical Survey, 1949.
  5. Hansen, George H. and Wm. Lee Stokes. “An Ancient cave in American Fork Canyon.” Proceedings of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. 18 (1941): 27-37.
  6. Hansen, George H. A Regional Redistricting Plan for the State of Utah. Provo, Utah: Dept. of Geography, Brigham Young University, 1937.
  7. Hansen, George H. Drilling Records for Oil and Gas in Utah. Salt Lake City: Utah Geological and Mineralogical Survey, 1955.
  8. Hansen, George H. Drilling Records for Oil and Gas in Utah, January 1, 1954-December 31, 1963. Salt Lake City: Utah Geological and Mineralogical Survey, 1965.
  9. Hansen, George H. George H. Hansen Oral History Interview, Feb. 19, 1980, Interview by Alonzo Morley (Orem, Utah, 18 Feb. 1980).
  10. Hansen, George H. Influence of Intra-State Districts of Governmental and Private Agencies on a Proposal to Redistrict the State of Utah in Keeping with Natural Boundaries. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1936.
  11. Hansen, George H. Review of New Geologic Map of Utah. Brigham Young University Studies 5 (Spring-Summer 1964): 251-252.
  12. Hansen, George H. Speculations Concerning the Statue of Early Man in America. Provo: Brigham Young University, 1941.
  13. Hansen, George H. “Stories in Stone.” Brigham Young Speeches of the Year, 1952-1953. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Extension Division and Delta Phi: 161-167.
  14. Hansen, George H. “The Geographic Factor and Its Influence on Utah Administrative Units.” Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographies 3 (1937): 3-8.
  15. Hansen George H. Utah Lake Skull Cap. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association, 1934.
  16. UA 114, Brigham Young University Graduate School Records, 1972-1981; University Archives; Brigham Young University; L. Tom Perry Special Collections; Harold B. Lee Library, L. Tom Perry Special Collections.
  17. UA 509, Records of George H. Hansen; University Archives; Brigham Young University; L. Tom Perry Special Collections; Harold B. Lee Library, L. Tom Perry Special Collections.

Processing Information note

Processed; Tom Wells, Curator of Photographic Archives; Brittany Johnson; June 2005.

Register of the George H. Hansen photograph collection
Johnson, Brittany
June 2005
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.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States