The V. M. Hanks Jr. Photograph Collection contains photographs and papers created by professional San Francisco photographer
V. M. Hanks Jr from the 1940s until the late 1980s. The photographs include both negatives and photographic prints created
by Hanks beginning with his role as U.S. Marine’s photographer and traces the trajectory of his career as a hotel photographer
and significant general San Francisco photographer. The bulk of the collection consists of black and white photographic prints
and transparencies, as well as a scrapbook, correspondence, newspaper clippings and publications, the bulk of which feature
or include photographs of and by Hanks. Photographs document visits to San Francisco by heads of state, public officials and
royalty from several countries during the 1940s through the 1960s. In the 1970s – 1980s, there is photographic documentation
of numismatic events at the old San Francisco Mint.
Virgil McKnight Hanks, Jr. was born in Decatur, Illinois, on April 17, 1921 to Marie Gladys Batemen and Earl Hanks. He attended
Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois. Hanks enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in August 1942 and became a sergeant and combat
photographer in January 1943. Hanks saw action at Guadalcanal. While recovering from malaria at a military hospital in Klamath
Falls, Oregon, he met Nadine Palmerton, who was a reporter for a newspaper in Klamath Falls. The couple married on June 29,
1947 in Oregon and moved to San Francisco, California as newlyweds.
Hanks began his San Francisco career as a photographer, and by the mid-1950s he was one of San Francisco’s leading photographers.
During the 1950s - 1960s, he was photographer of record for many of San Francisco's major hotels and his work appeared frequently
in local magazines and newspapers. As a well-known press and commercial photographer for nearly 40 years, Hanks served as
a visual diarist for the city, photographing heads of state, visiting dignitaries and numerous other celebrities. During the
1950s, Hanks’ headquarters was at the St. Francis Hotel. From 1957-1958, Hanks was the photographer for The Argonaut for a
series called the Pacifica Focus.
Later in life, Hanks became a prominent numismatist. A talented designer with a passion for numismatics, he was involved in
the design of commemorative medallions celebrating various anniversaries of the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable car and the
San Francisco Mint.
Hanks lived in San Francisco’s St. Francis Woods at 89 San Pablo Avenue with his wife Nadine, daughters Penny, Lisa and Janet
and son Charles. He was a member of the Saints and Sinners fraternal charitable organization, the Disabled American Veterans,
the American Numismatic Association and the San Francisco Coin Club. He was also a past member of the Bohemian Club. Hanks
died on July 8, 1997 in San Francisco, California.
3 cartons, 21 shoeboxes and 2 oversize boxes (approximately 1,000 photographic prints and 17,000 negatives)