Ireland House Oral History Collection

Tom Hanley

Tom Hanley, 5 November 2010. Photo by Linda Dowling Almeida.


5 November 2010

2 hours, 13 minutes, 59 seconds

Preferred Citation:

Ireland House Oral History Collection, Archives of Irish America, New York University

Biographical Note:

Tom Hanley (b. 1939) was born in Jersey City and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey where he attended Catholic schools until the seventh grade. He grew up in poverty and often resorted to shoplifting food and clothes as an adolescent to survive. When he was only 14 years old, he was given a role in the movie On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando and directed by Elia Kazan.

By the time he was 16 years old, he had dropped out of school and found a job in a book-binding factory to earn money. A year later, he convinced his older brother to help him forge the necessary documents to meet the age requirements for employment as a longshoreman on the waterfront. Hanley was hired by Union Local 881 and worked on the docks for 53 years. He was very involved in union politics, often challenging the leadership and getting into situations where he was nearly killed for not cooperating with the officers. However, in 2003 the government took over his local and honest officer elections were finally conducted that allowed the longshoremen the freedom to make their own decisions.

Hanley has been retired for one year and currently lives in Bayonne, New Jersey.


Photo Credit:

  1. Tom Hanley, 5 November 2010. Photo by Linda Dowling Almeida.