Hubert Howe Bancroft: Wikis


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Hubert Howe Bancroft
Born May 5, 1832(1832-05-05)
Granville, Ohio
Died March 2, 1918
San Francisco, CA

Hubert Howe Bancroft (May 5, 1832(1832-05-05) – March 2, 1918), an American historian and ethnologist, was born in Granville, Ohio. He attended the Granville Academy until he was sixteen, and he then became a clerk in a bookstore in Buffalo, New York. Relocating to San Francisco, California, he managed a bookstore there from March 1852 to 1868, and he began his own publishing house. He also accumulated a great library of historical material, and eventually he gave up business to devote himself entirely to writing and publishing history.

Bancroft is interred in the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California. The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley is named in his honor, and was founded when Bancroft donated his book collection to the University of California in 1905.


Critique of production methods

Bancroft published a well-known group of local histories. Having formed a large collection of materials on the history of the Pacific coast, he then employed research and writing assistants to organize and produce statements of facts for large sections of a proposed general history. Originally he seems to have intended to use these statements of facts as the basis of a narrative which he himself would write; but as the work progressed he came to use the statements as they stood, with only slight changes. He said his assistants were capable investigators, and there is independent evidence to show that some of them deserved his confidence. (Frances Fuller Victor, in particular, was a highly regarded writer in her own right.) However, his failure to acknowledge each contribution created doubt concerning the value of any particular section. Overall, although Bancroft considered himself the author of the work, it is more accurate to consider him an editor and compiler.

Neither Bancroft, nor most of his assistants, had preparatory training sufficient to save them from pitfalls common to historical works of this period. Their writing reflected personal opinions and enthusiasms, and their often-good books consequently have some serious defects. However, they were generally very well-received in their time. Historian Francis Parkman gave The Native Races high credit in The North American Review. Lewis H. Morgan, however, was more critical. Based on his newly-published theory of Indian culture, in an article called Montezuma's Dinner, Morgan completely reversed Parkman's verdict and raised doubt in the minds of the public about this and other volumes of the series. Bancroft's response to Morgan's criticism suggests that he did not understand Morgan's theory, which now is generally accepted by scholars.

Controversial racist opinions

In chronicling the October 18, 1871 massacre of 19 Chinese people in Los Angeles Bancroft commented that the lynchings were a "right of revolution," and a democratic expression of the majority's "right . . . to suspend the action of the law . . . whenever they deem it essential to the well being of society to do so," rather than a lack of "due deference" or "disrespect for the law."


Several schools are named for Bancroft, including Bancroft Middle School in Long Beach, California.

Published works

  • Native Races of the Pacific States (vols. 1–5, 1874)
  • History of Central America (vols. 6–8, 1883–87)[ca 1]
  • History of Mexico (vols. 9–14, 1883–87)
  • History of the Northern Mexican States and Texas (vols. 15–16, 1884–89)
  • History of Arizona and New Mexico (vol. 17, 1889)
  • History of California (vols. 18–24, 1884–90)
  • History of Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming (vol. 25, 1890)
  • History of Utah (vol. 26, 1889)
  • History of the North-West Coast (vols. 27–28, 1884)
  • History of Oregon (vols. 29–30, 1886–88)
  • History of Washington, Idaho, and Montana (vol. 31, 1890)
  • History of British Columbia (vol. 32, 1887)
  • History of Alaska (vol. 33, 1886)
  • California Pastorals (vol. 34, 1888)
  • California inter Pocula (vol. 35, 1888)
  • Popular Tribunals (vols. 36–37, 1887)
  • Essays and Miscellany (vol. 38, 1890)
  • Literary Industries (vol. 39, 1890).
  • Book of the Fair
  • Book of Wealth
  • Resources of Mexico
  • The New Pacific

Spring Valley ranch

In 1885 Bancroft purchased a ranch with an adobe home on it located in Spring Valley, in San Diego County, as a retirement home. It now is a National Historic Landmark.


  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Bancroft, Hubert Howe". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.  
  • The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21) (VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II: XV. Later Historians: § 27. Hubert Howe Bancroft.)
  • Caughey, John Walton, Hubert Howe Bancroft, Historian of the West (1946)

External links

  1. ^ Bancroft 1887, HISTORY OF CENTRAL AMERICA | contents| c 5 p.79-107|c 7 p.127-144|c 8 p.145-164|c11 p.215-237|c12 p.238-263|c13 p.264-284|c14 p.285-308|c17 p.347-370|c18 p.371-391|c19 p.392-412|c22 p.453-569, THE HISTORY COMPANY, PUBLISHERS SAN FRANCISCO, 1887

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