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Hanlon Theatrical Collection

Call Number: MS Th. 3

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the performances of the Hanlon brothers during the 1870s and 1880s in both the United States and Europe. In addition, the lives of the Hanlons after their theatrical careers are also documented. Included are scrapbooks, costume sketches, photographs, and scripts.


  • 1875-1932


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. The Boston Public Library does not hold copyright on the material in this collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

When reproducing material from this collection please include the credit line "Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/ Rare Books."

The Hanlon Brothers

The Hanlon brothers, Thomas (1833–68), George (1840–1926), William (1842–1923), Alfred (1844–86), Edward (1846–1931), and Frederick (1848-1931), were British performers and theatrical producers who specialized in pantomime, acrobatics, and trapeze acts, who performed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Thomas, George, William, Alfred, and Edward were born in Manchester, England to actors Thomas Hanlon, Sr. and Ellen Hughes. Frederick was adopted into the family after having been apprenticed to Thomas Hanlon, Sr. for theatrical training. The brothers were originally trained and directed by acrobatic instructor John Lees and performed under the name Hanlon-Lees until 1882. They completed multiple world tours, performing in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and North and South America. The next generation of sons continued to perform under the family name, touring as a vaudeville act. Hanlon sons clowned with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus through the 1950s.


96.00 Items

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Arranged into 6 groups: Documents, Correspondence, Scripts, synopses, etc., Photographs, Sketches, and Miscellaneous materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from May Hanlon Manheimer in 1940.
Hanlon Theatrical Collection
Rare Books & Manuscripts Department Staff
2013 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2013-04: Updated by Kimberly Reynolds.
  • 2021-04: Arrangement and notes updated by Eve Neiger.

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

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Boston MA 02116 United States