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Vern Hansen:

A Guide to His Papers at Georgia State University Library

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia, 30303

March 2014

Profile Description

Creation: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2017-10-05T15:18-0400
Language: English

Collection Summary

Repository: Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
Creator: Hansen, Vern, 1918-
Title: Vern Hansen papers
Dates: 1934-1939; 1951-1984; 1990-2009
Quantity: 0.4 Linear feet
Abstract:Vern Hansen (born March 17, 1918) worked as a musician and radio promotion specialist in Iowa, and moved to California in the 1960s. A songwriter and author, he corresponded with lyricist Johnny Mercer and singer Bing Crosby about his work and his efforts to succeed in the entertainment industry. His papers, 1934-1939, 1951-1984, 1990-2009, include correspondence, creative works, legal documents, and printed material. In addition to his correspondence with Mercer, much of the material pertains to Hansen's holiday song "Mistletoe Mansion," to which Mercer contributed lyrics. The collection also contains Hansen's writings on his early days as a musician, and on Mercer, Duke Ellington, and his spiritual interests.
Identification: M201
Language: English

Scope and Contents of the Papers

Correspondence, creative works, legal documents, and printed material, 1934-1939, 1951-1984, 1990-2009, document the career of author and songwriter Vern Hansen, especially his relationship with the songwriter Johnny Mercer, with whom he corresponded from 1955 until Mercer’s death in 1976. Included are nine Christmas Cards from the Mercer family, each with an annual poem written by Mercer. Hansen’s papers also include his writings on Mercer, correspondence with Mercer's widow, Ginger, and The Johnny Mercer Foundation, and legal records related to "Mistletoe Mountain," the song whose lyrics Mercer revised. Correspondence also shows Hansen's continuing efforts to interest music publishers and performers in the song. The papers include Hansen’s correspondence with singer Bing Crosby, from whom he also sought advice and assistance, and printed Christmas cards from and Hansen's writings about the composer and orchestra leader Duke Ellington. A file of photos, reminiscences, and clippings, 1934-1939, 1955, 1981, 2009, documents Hansen's musical career in the 1930s with banjoist Nick Wayne. Material related to Hansen’s other song compositions, as well as his spiritual writings, make up the rest of the papers.

Biographical Note about Vern Hansen

Vern (Vernon E.) Hansen (born March 17, 1918) described himself as having had "careers as a metallurgical analyst, broadcasting promotion specialist, Air Force Special Services officer, and an industrial advertising manager" as well as being an author and songwriter. Born in Nebraska but raised in Waterloo, Iowa, he performed in musical revues as a teenager and worked in broadcasting in the state, including at WMT in Cedar Rapids. For a number of years, he played guitar with the banjoist Nick Wayne (born Wayne Nickeson, 1909-55) in a duo act. After his Air Corps service during the 1940s, he started to write songs seriously and struck up a correspondence with the songwriter Johnny Mercer (1909-76). Mercer and singer Bing Crosby, with whom Hansen also corresponded, offered him both professional advice and practical assistance as he attempted to start a writing career in the music and motion picture industry. Mercer's editing of Hansen’s Christmas-themed song "Mistletoe Mansion" was among his last work as a lyricist. In the early 1960s, Hansen moved to the San Jose, California, area. He continued to compose songs and write lyrics, attempted to break into screenwriting, and wrote fiction. He published a number of pieces of journalism and the book, The Meaning of Dreams for Sleeping Man: A Helpful Guide to the Spiritual Meaning of Your Dreams (Trinity Center, Cal., 1994).

Index Terms

Dreams--Religious aspects
Lyric writing (Popular music)
Popular music
Popular music--Writing and publishing
Crosby, Bing, 1903-1977 -- Correspondence
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974
Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976 -- Correspondence


Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Administrative Information


[item], [folder title], Vern Hansen papers, M201, Popular Music and Culture Collection. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University, Atlanta.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Vern Hansen, 2004-2009 (M2004-15).

Processing Information

Processed by Stephen J. Zietz. Finding aid by William W. Hardesty, 2014, 2017.

Related Material

Related Materials in This Repository
Johnny Mercer papers, 1885-1981 (M001)
Johnny and Ginger Mercer papers, 1925-circa 1992 (M002)
Johnny Mercer Oral History Project, 1970; 1995-1998; 2001-2002

Separated Material

Separated to Sheet Music Collection
Vern Hansen (Music and lyrics), "Country Wedding Day" (New York: Shapiro, Bernstein, 1951)

Separated to Sound Recordings
"Mistletoe Mansion" (two versions: sung by Jeanne Arland on "Good Neighbor Time" show, WCCO Radio [Minneapolis], 1953; sung by Unitarian Universalist Church choir, Los Gatos, California, circa 2000) (2 cassettes)
Nick Wayne and Vern Hansen (songs "The Snake Charmer" and "That's A-Plenty," 1938) (CD-R)

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