Partner William Alan Swallow

Queer Places:
124 Glezen Ln, Wayland, MA 01778
Mount Auburn Cemetery Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA

Eric H. HansenEric H. Hansen (1903 - June 10, 1965) was the president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a co-founder of the International Society for the Protection of Animals. Humane historian Sydney H. Coleman was not open about his sexuality. Coleman was “outed” only many years after his death in private correspondence by Eric H. Hansen, his much younger protege, who later headed the Humane Society of Missouri, the American Humane Association, and finally the Massachusetts SPCA. Hansen and William Alan Swallow, who worked with him throughout his tenures at the AHA and MSPCA, were more-or-less openly coupled for approximately 40 years.

Hansen, born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1903, emigrated to the U.S. in 1923. He studied at New York University and earned his doctorate degree at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. He married Miriam C. Allen (1905-1990). Meeting then-American SPCA president Sydney Coleman at the New York City YMCA in 1924, Hansen soon thereafter became manager of the Queens Branch shelter for the American SPCA in New York City.

Hansen subsequently served as managing director of the Humane Society of Missouri, 1931-1937; managing director of the American Humane Association, 1937-1942; and finally headed the Massachusetts SPCA and American Humane Education Society from 1942 until his death in 1965.

Hansen met his life partner, Willian Alan Swallow, at the American Humane Association, where Swallow had worked since 1930. Swallow, author of Quality of Mercy, dedicated it to Hansen.

Swallow, editor of the American Humane Association monthly periodical The National Humane Review from 1941 to 1943, followed Hansen to the Massachusetts SPCA for the remainder of his career.

Hansen's humane work began when he started as a license clerk for the American S.P.C.A. in New York City. While managing director of the Humane Society of Missouri he effected the rescue of thousands of animals in the Mississippi and Ohio river areas during raging floods. In 1940, while general manager of the American Humane Assn., Hansen went to Hollywood, met with major movie producers and brought about agreements which ended movie practices in stunt and thrill scenes that maimed or crippled horses. He was trustee of the New England Baptist Hospital and chairman of its planning committee.

Dr. Hansen died of a heart attack on June 10, 1965, while attending a conference in Bangor, Me.


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