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Richard H. Hanna Papers

Identifier: MSS-762-BC

Scope and Content

Richard E. Hanna's papers contain a range of materials pertaining to his personal life and legal career, primarily during his tenure with the firm Hanna, Wilson, and Brophy. Legal documents include pleadings, correspondence, and contracts from a broad spectrum of the law. Civil and personal injury cases are not included in the collection. The collection is divided into 9 series documenting Hanna's personal life, political connections, and his legal activities relating to property, Indian affairs, natural resources, and administration of Bradford Prince's estate.

Personal: This series contains records related to Hanna's personal and family life including his and his wife's last will and testaments; family correspondence and legal documents, correspondence and scrapbooks relating to Hanna's participation in religious and civic organizations.

Political: The series contains correspondence between Hanna and prominent political leaders including Dennis Chavez, Carl Hatch, John Collier, Clyde Tingley, and governors of New Mexico between 1930 and 1940. The series also includes correspondence pertaining to Hanna's involvement in several local and national political races.

Land: Materials focus on contracts and property litigation, ranging from quiet title suits to property tax cases. The series documents the acquisition of large parcels of land for ranching and other purposes in counties throughout New Mexico. Several of the cases contained in this series set currently binding New Mexico law in the areas of taxation and contracts. This series is divided into 2 subseries: Land Grants and Private Land. The land grants sub-series contains information on the acquisition and sale of various New Mexico land grants including the La Joya Grant, Sandia Pueblo Grant, Bosque del Apache Grant, and Ojo Caliente Grant.

Oil and Gas: The series is divided into subseries concerning the Navajo Oil Company and other companies. The Navajo Oil Company was instrumental in New Mexico's oil drilling and in acquisition of oil from other parts of the country. Included are company documents, correspondence, maps, and litigation. The most prominent piece of litigation is the Navajo Oil Company v. Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co. The case is about contract interpretation and is still binding New Mexico law. Related documents include original pleadings, correspondence, motions, and outcome, 1920-1950. Other subseries relate to smaller companies, and contain litigation records and correspondence, 1926-1939. The companies include, but are not limited to, the San Juan Refinery, Sandia Oil Company and Pueblo Bonito Oil Company. These materials document New Mexico's early quest for oil and gas. Many of the companies eventually merged with one another, leaving only a few larger conglomerates.

Water: This series contains original pleadings, correspondence, and maps relating to early litigation between Texas and New Mexico regarding water rights. This was the first legal battle concerning what today is called the Sunbelt Water War.

Minerals and Other Resources: This series contains documents such as contracts and corporate correspondence related to the acquisition of minerals and other natural resources in New Mexico. It contains litigation records and correspondence from many New Mexico companies that worked in the mineral excavation arena. These materials illuminate the early quest for minerals in New Mexico, based largely on the vast number of permits included. In many instances, Hanna was personally involved in the mineral transactions. Additionally, the series contains materials pertaining to transportation of resources via the railroad. Materials in this series are sorted into subseries for New Mexico, New Mexico and Colorado, Colorado, and General

Indian Affairs: This series is divided into 3 subseries: John Collier, Pueblo Lands, General/Non-Pueblo. Materials include correspondence, legal briefs, and memos that were presented to the court on behalf of Indian tribes, 1925-1944. Titles of briefs include, but are not limited to: "Does the Statute of Limitation apply to Pueblo Indians"; "The Effect of the Pueblo Land Act" and various briefs on other federal legislation. The series also includes drafts of contracts and resolutions made between the Pueblo Indians and the Federal Government regarding land and water owned by the tribes. This series illuminates many facets of the legal climate surrounding the Indian tribes in New Mexico, 1858-1944. Additionally, there is information about the excavation of Gran Quivira National Monument.

Prince Estate: Materials relate to the trust administration of the Governor L. Bradford and Mary Prince Estate. The trust was executed by Hanna and L. Bradford's oldest son for the benefit of Mary's grandchildren. The trust included a great deal of property in the Rio Arriba and Santa Fe areas. The Prince family at one time owned the majority of what is now the Santa Fe Plaza. Papers included in the series outline the sale of those properties to educate the Prince heirs. This series sheds light on the vast wealth held by the Prince family. It also traces the demise of that wealth during the depression. The series contains correspondence and pleadings, as well as extensive property lists.

Maps, Plats, Blue Prints: This series consists of oversized materials, some which were removed from folders in the property and minerals series.


  • 1859-1963
  • Majority of material found within 1929-1946


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes.User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Richard Hanna was born in Kankakee, Illinois. on July 31, 1878. His father, Isaac Bird Hanna, served as superintendent of national forests in New Mexico and Arizona from 1900-1905, during which time the Hanna residence was in Santa Fe.

Richard Hanna graduated from Northwestern Academy in 1898. He received his law degree from the University of Colorado in 1903. He then returned to Santa Fe to become a partner of Attorney Francis C. Wilson in 1904. Originally a Republican, Hanna joined Senator Bronson Cutting in the Progressive Party, and was elected as a Progressive to the first NM State Supreme Court, serving from 1912-1919. He unsuccessfully ran for Governor of New Mexico on the Democratic ticket in 1920, and also ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1921.

Following his tenure on the Court, Hanna practiced law as an attorney in Albuquerque, with partners Francis C. Wilson and William Brophy. The firm, Hanna, Wilson, and Brophy took on cases in the areas of civil litigation, water, Indian law, and corporate law. Hanna, recognized for his expertise in Spanish law, Indian affairs, and water rights, served as special attorney for the Pueblo Indians during Woodrow Wilson's administration; he authored the Pueblo Lands Act of 1924 and contributed to settlement of Indian land titles across New Mexico. As special assistant to the attorney general of the United States and guardian of the Walpi Indians in Arizona, Hanna was instrumental in recovering 500,000 acres of land from the Santa Fe and Pacific Railroad for the Walpi. Serving under Secretary of the Interior Ickes, Hanna aided in recovering lands in Alaska for the Eskimos. Hanna carried a lawsuit for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in the compact between New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado for equitable distribution of Rio Grande waters. Hanna also formulated the adjudication of water rights for settlers along the Pecos River.

Richard H. Hanna married Clara Zimmer in 1905. They had one adopted son, also named Richard. Richard Sr. was a 3rd degree Mason; a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and a prominent member of the Grand Knights Templar. Richard H. Hanna died on August 17, 1946.

Source: New Mexico Historical Review, vol. 21, p. 362-364, 1946.


12 boxes (9.5 cu. ft.), + 1 oversize folder


This collection documents Richard E. Hanna's personal life, political connections, and legal activities relating to property, Indian affairs, natural resources, and administration of L. Bradford Prince's estate.


The collection is divided into 9 series:
  1. Personal
  2. Political
  3. Land (Land Grants and Private Land)
  4. Oil and Gas Litigation (Navajo Oil Co.; San Juan Refining Co.; Other Companies, General)
  5. Water
  6. Minerals and Other Resources
  7. Indian Affairs (John Collier, Pueblo Lands, General/Non-Pueblo)
  8. Prince Estate
  9. Maps, Plats, Blue Prints

Related Archival Material

Center for Regional Studies and the Center for Southwest Research Fellows presentation, Antonia Roybal.
Finding Aid of the Richard H. Hanna Papers, 1859-1963
For Approval
Processed by Antonia Roybal-Mack
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding provided by Center for Regional Studies

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131