- This article is about the publisher who died in 1945. For his nephew and grand-nephew, see Victor Hanson II and Victor Hanson III.
Hanson was the son of a Henry Clay Hanson, and his wife, the former Anna O. Bloodworth. Mr Hanson was editor and owner of the Macon Telegraph and Columbus Enquirer-Sun in Georgia. His uncle, Major J. F. Hanson, was president of the Central of Georgia Railway and the Ocean Steamship Company.
Victor was educated in the public schools of Macon and Columbus, and founded his own Saturday newspaper, The City Item while still in grammar school. That paper blossomed as a Sunday broadsheet, called The Columbus Times with 2,500 subscribers, which he sold at age 15 for over $2,000. Hanson was briefly enrolled at the Gordon Institute in Atlanta, but left at the age of 16 to seek employment. He worked as an advertising agent for Nichols & Holliday, advertising managers for the Atlanta Consitution in 1892. He left in 1895 for a post with the Baltimore World, then came to Alabama in 1896 to work as advertising manager for the Montgomery Advertiser.
He married Weenona White of Uniontown on December 28, 1897 and brought her to Montgomery. In February 1909 he moved with her to Birmingham and purchased a third of the outstanding stock in the fledgling Birmingham News, becoming vice president and general manager. They resided with her sister, Mrs Thomas Heflin, on Crescent Avenue until purchasing their own home. When founding publisher Rufus Rhodes died less than a year later, he and partner Frank Glass, bought out Rhodes' widow and Hanson assumed the role of publisher.
One of the first challenges Hanson faced was pressure to suppress news of a double suicide involving a prominent bachelor and the wife of a banking executive under the threat of losing the loan he took out to purchase the remaining stock in the paper. He decided to print the news anyway and was able to move his note to a different bank. Over the next ten years he increased the News circulation from 18,000 to over 60,000, and launched a Sunday edition in 1912 with 23,000 subscribers. Hanson bought out Glass' share in the paper in 1920, and also acquired The Birmingham Ledger on April 19 of that year. He later controlled The Huntsville Times and WSGN-AM as well.
When the closure of banks kept Hanson from making payroll in March 1932, Hanson secured credit on behalf of his employees from the Hill Grocery Company and the utility companies, pledging to pay back whatever they owed once the banks reopened.
After Weenona's death in 1933, Hanson married the former Ruth Lawson in 1936. He lived with acute diabetes for most of his later life, but died in 1945 of a heart attack. Ruth went on to contribute much toward diabetes research and treatment, buying insulin for the poor, establishing a research chair at the UAB School of Medicine, and opening UAB's Diabetes Research and Education Hospital in 1973.
Hanson's nephew, Clarence Hanson, Jr, assumed control of the News after Victor's death, leaving Ruth as chair of the paper's board of directors. Clarence's son Victor Hanson II succeeded him in 1983 and was succeeded by his son, Victor III in 2001.
|Birmingham News Publisher
Clarence Hanson, Jr
- Owen, Thomas McAdory and Marie Bankhead Owen (1921) History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. 4 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
- "Victor H. Hanson Last Rites Today" (March 8, 1945) Dothan Eagle
- Fell, Charles A. (January 1960) "The Crash and the Moratorium". The Journal of the Birmingham Historical Society" Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 7–10
- Scarritt, Tom (November 29, 2009) "Hanson legacy noteworthy." The Birmingham News