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George Hanst papers

 Collection 0172-MDHC

George Hanst, a Maryland native, worked for the Baltimore Evening Sun. He served as a copy writer for the newspaper and also covered the courtroom activities of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City. He is best remembered for his daily column "Court Docket." The George Hanst papers consists of hand-written notebooks, as well as newspaper and headline clipping books.


  • 1957-1988

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


6.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The George Hanst papers consist of three types of notebooks used by Hanst during his career and span the years 1957 to 1988. Included is a numbered set of spiral notebooks used by Hanst to take notes on events about which he would later write. One set of newspaper clipping books, consisting of newspaper articles from the Evening Sun pasted into 6"x 9" spiral notebooks, documents Hanst's entire journalistic career at the Evening Sun.

After Hanst became a copy editor for the paper in 1981, he kept headline clipping books of all of the articles with which he was involved. The collection also contains three editorial cartoons done by Hanst's colleague, Neil Grauer, depicting President Nixon and Vice President Agnew reading the "Court Docket" column.


George H. Hanst was born in Oakland, Garrett County, Maryland, on January 13, 1934. His father, George Herbert Hanst, was the editor of The Republican, a weekly newspaper. His mother was Polly Hanst, a 4-H Extension Agent, columnist for The Farmer's Wife (a national magazine that was later incorporated into the Farm Journal), and a home economics teacher at Northern High School.

After graduating from Oakland High School, Hanst attended Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, on a Senatorial scholarship. At Washington College, he was editor of the school newspaper, a member of Phi Sigma Kappa, and a member of the school's tennis team.

In 1956, a year after he graduated from Washington College, Hanst moved to Baltimore and joined the Baltimore Evening Sun as a copy boy. After a month, Hanst began writing high school sports stories.

In 1959, the Evening Sun assigned Hanst to cover crime in the police districts of Baltimore City. After a brief stint covering Anne Arundel County government, he was dispatched to the Court House. From 1967 to 1981, Hanst covered the Supreme Bench (now the Circuit Court) of Baltimore City during a time of immense change and drama. The court's caseload expanded exponentially during this period; the bench added its first female and African-American judges, and the legal system had its first African-American state's attorney. In addition, Hanst covered such momentous events as the round-the-clock trials held in the wake of the Baltimore riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in April 1968, and many notable cases of the period, including ones involving alleged municipal corruption. He became known for "Court Docket," the daily report that covered the most serious, dramatic cases handled by the Baltimore criminal courts as well as offbeat and funny issues that found their way to legal disposition. Hanst preferred that the stories in the "Court Docket" be unique: ones not obtained by his "competitors" at the Sun and the News American, but he insisted on covering every homicide case, even if the other papers did, because murder, he said, was "the ultimate crime." The public recognized Hanst for reporting the nicknames of many of the defendants, and his colleagues admired the precision and concision of his copy.

In 1981, Hanst became a copy editor for the Evening Sun, partially due to the fact that he was an authority on grammar, spelling, and street numbers in Baltimore City. No one had ever corrected his copy while he was working on "Court Docket," but he frequently sent notes to editors about mistakes he had found in the previous day's edition.

On June 17, 1967, Hanst married Barbara Mann. The couple had two children: Jonathan and Jennifer. Hanst was a member of the newspaper guild and was active in the affairs of the Ascension Evangelical Lutheran Church, where he was a member of the choir for twenty-five years. George H. Hanst died on January 6, 1995 at the age of sixty, of complications from a brain tumor that was diagnosed in 1993. He retired from the Evening Sun two weeks prior to his death.


The collection is organized as six series.

Series 1
Reporters Notebooks
Series 2
Newspaper Clipping Books
Series 3
Headline Clipping Books
Series 4
Editorial Cartoons
Series 5
Series 6

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Barbara Mann Hanst donated the papers of George Hanst to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1995. Barbara Mann Hanst and Neil A. Grauer donated photographs in 2003.

Related Material

The Baltimore Evening Sun is available on microfilm in McKeldin Library (Microfilm AN41.16 .E9). The University of Maryland Libraries has several works by Neil Grauer, including: Wits and Sages: Jack Anderson, Russell Baker, Erma Bombeck, Jimmy Breslin, David Broder, Art Buchwald, William F. Buckley, Jr., Ellen Goodman, James J. Kilpatrick, Carl T. Rowan, Mike Royko, George F. Will (McKeldin Library Stacks PN4871.G7 1984) and Baltimore: Jewel of the Chesapeake: a Contemporary Portrait (Maryland Folio F189.B15G73 1991).

Processing Information

The reporters notebooks used by Hanst during his career were kept in their original format and placed in acid-free document cases. Hanst glued the newspaper clippings into standard spiral-notebooks. A piece of acid-free paper, 8.5 x 6 inches, was placed between each page to reduce further deterioration. The notebooks were then also placed in acid-free document cases. The headline clipping notebooks were kept in their original format without interleaving the pages with acid-free paper (placing acid-free paper between the pages causes damage) and placed in acid-free document cases.

Guide to the George Hanst Papers
Processed by Jennie A. Levine, May 2003. Revised by Jennie A. Levine, August 2003.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742