Terence A. (Terry) Tanner, the respected antiquarian book dealer and owner of the Chicago-area Hamill & Barker Book Sellers, was born in Chicago in 1948 and grew up in the city's south suburbs.
In the late 1960s Tanner moved to Galesburg, Illinois, to attend Knox College, where he majored in mathematics. In Galesburg he met the antiquarian book seller Clare Van Norman, Sr., who introduced him to the book trade. When Tanner graduated from Knox College in 1970, he moved back to Chicago, where he found a job working as the office manager for Van Allen Bradley, the rare book dealer and literary editor of the Chicago Daily News. Tanner next worked as an assistant to the distinguished antiquarian Kenneth Nebenzahl, and later, as an independent book scout for various Chicago dealers.
By 1975, Tanner was firmly entrenched in the book trade. That year, he became an assistant to the well-known booksellers Frances Hamill and Margery Barker. He became the sole owner of their firm in 1987, following the death of Ms. Hamill, Ms. Barker having died in 1980. It was at Hamill & Barker that Tanner came into his own as a book dealer.
In late 1981 Tanner's interest in the early printing history of Illinois led to an ambitious research project. It was his intention to create a supplement to Cecil K. Byrd's well-regarded, but incomplete, A Bibliography of Illinois Imprints, 1814-58 (1966), and to revise Franklin William Scott's outdated Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois from 1814 to 1879 (1910).
For two decades Tanner worked on that project, and assembled copious notes, which filled boxes, binders, metal filing drawers, and cartons, not to mention the margins of the books he used as secondary sources. Over the course of the project he published two articles: "Newspapers and Printing Presses in Early Illinois." American Periodicals, Vol. 3 (1993), 100-13; and "Some Corrections and Emendations to Cecil K. Byrd's A Bibliography of Illinois Imprints, 1814-58." Journal of Illinois History, Vol. 4 (Summer 2001), 123-58.
In 2002, one year before his death, Tanner donated his life's work to the Library.
The collection is divided into two parts.
Part I includes materials that relate to Tanner's research on Early Illinois Newspapers and Job Printers. Within Part I are seven series: 1. Publications; 2. Illinois Newspapers and Job Printers, 1814-58, Research Notes (with photocopied imprints); 3. Illinois Newspapers and Job Printers, 1814-58, Research Note Cards; 4. Correspondence and Miscellaneous Materials; 5. Secondary Sources; 6. Photocopied and Transcribed Imprints of the Nineteenth Century (loose leaf); and 7. Supplementary Imprints of the Nineteenth Century (three-ring binders).
Part II includes materials that relate to Tanner's other research pursuits. Within Part II are three series: 1. Publications (including Tanner's bibliography of the novelist Frank Waters); 2. Thomas Ford's History of Illinois, Research Notes and Sources; 3. Hamill & Barker Antiquarian Book Sellers (including several catalogs prepared by Tanner); and 4. Illinois Cartes de Visite, Nineteenth Century.
See Ryan A. Ross, Early Illinois Newspapers and Job Printers: The Terence A. Tanner Collection, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Occasional Papers no. 216 (Urbana, Ill., 2010).