Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: Hubert Howe Bancroft : Records of the Library and Publishing Companies
Date (inclusive): 1864-1910
Collection Number: BANC MSS B-C 7
Bancroft, Hubert Howe, 1832-1918
Number of containers: 5 boxes, 25 cartons, 22 oversize boxes, 34 v.,1 oversize folder
Linear feet: ca. 55
7 digital objects (9 images)
The Bancroft Library.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
Abstract: Primarily chapter drafts, notes, newspaper clippings, galleys, and proofs of the historical works of H.H. Bancroft, published
by The History Company. A small amount of material pertaining to the Bancroft Library of San Francisco and A.L. Bancroft and
Company Publishers, Booksellers, Stationers and Manufacturers is also included.
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction
of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions,
privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond
that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be
commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the
Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See:
[Identification of item], Hubert Howe Bancroft : Records of the Library and Publishing Companies, BANC MSS B-C 7, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley
Alternate Forms Available
Digital reproductions of selected items are available.
Title: Hofmann & Curtis Architects, Specifications ... in the erection of a ... library building for H. H. Bancroft, 1881,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 73/122 c: [no.] 64
Title: Catalogue of the Bancroft Library of Pacific Coast Books, Maps, and Manuscripts,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 4
Title: William Henry Knight, Bancroft Library MS Scrapbooks, 1860-64,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-E 200
San Francisco Bulletin index, 1855-1872,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 2
In these Latter Days,
Hubert Howe Bancroft,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-A 1
A History of the City of San Francisco, 1878,
John S. Hittell,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 90/19 c
The History Company periodical index,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 3
Title: Hubert Howe Bancroft, Letters and papers from Mexico, 1886-91,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS M-M 384
Title: Porfirio Diaz Collection of Papers, 1881-93,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS M-M 392
Hubert Howe Bancroft,
Title: Authorities quoted in the History of California
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 1
Title: Report of labors in archives and procuring material for the History of California
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-E 191
Hubert Howe Bancroft,
Title: Preliminary notes and plans for the Pioneer Register
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-E 170
Correspondence relating to the
History of Oregon, 1863-1889,
Hubert Howe Bancroft,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS P-A 169
Hubert Howe Bancroft,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 362
Title: Bancroft Reference Notes for the Western States, excluding California,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 8
Title: Bancroft Reference Notes for Central America,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 9
Title: Bancroft reference notes for Mexico,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 10
Title: Bancroft Reference notes for British Columbia and Alaska,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 11
Title: Bancroft Reference Notes for California,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 12
Title: Bancroft Reference Notes--Bibliography,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 13
Title: Bancroft Reference Notes on the conquest of Mexico,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-M 1
Title: Bancroft Reference Notes,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 97/31 c
Title: Bancroft Miscellaneous Newspaper Clippings, 1860-1890,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS B-C 14
Title: Henry Cerruti, Sketches of the California Pioneers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-E 65
Title: Ivan Petroff, Journal of Trip to Alaska in Search of Information for the Bancroft Library, 1878,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS P-K 62
Title: Harry Bishop Hambly, Information for the Bancroft Library, 1936,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-D 5081
Title: Henry Lebbeus Oak, Correspondence and papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 387
Title: Henry Lebbeus Oak, Letters from H.H. Bancroft and diary, 1874-87,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 67/153
Title: Frances Fuller Victor, Correspondence and notes relating to the History of Oregon, 1865-[ca. 1886],
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS P-A 170
Title: A.L. Bancroft & Co., Account of stock, Jan. 1, 1879,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-E 195
Title: A.L. Bancroft & Co., Resolutions for the year 1890,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-E 196
My Brother Hubert Howe Bancroft, 1907,
Albert Little Bancroft,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 73/122 c:109
Title: Hubert Howe Bancroft family papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 73/64 c
Title: Bancroft family, Family genealogical data, 1886-1907,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 89/91 c
Title: Hubert Howe Bancroft letters to his family, 1882-1918,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 77/169 c
Material Cataloged Separately
Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
Hubert Howe Bancroft: Records of the Library and Publishing Companies were part of the Bancroft collection purchased by the
University of California in 1905.
Hubert Howe Bancroft was born in Granville, Ohio on May 5, 1832. After working for some time in the Buffalo, N. Y. book store
owned by his brother-in-law, George H. Derby, Bancroft came to California in 1852 to establish a West Coast outlet for the
shop. In 1855, after selling the initial stock, he went east and returned with sufficient books and stationery to open a San
Francisco store the following year. Within two years, his firm on Montgomery Street began to grow into a publishing house,
issuing such items as law books and legal stationery, texts and maps for schools, and music and piano sales.
In 1860, as an outgrowth of assembling research materials for publication of a Pacific Coast handbook, Bancroft began to collect
regional writings: this was the beginning of his unparalleled collection of books and manuscripts on the West. Within a decade
he had 16,000 volumes, encompassing not only California and the Pacific Coast as the central focus, but also British Columbia
and Alaska to the north, the Rocky Mountains to the east, and Mexico and Central American to the south, extending back in
time from the native Indian cultures of all these regions and the subsequent era of Spanish control. The collection continued
to grow as a result of collecting trips to the east and Europe, as well as through extensive purchases at a number of major
auctions. Eventually it included not only books and manuscripts, but pamphlets, maps, newspapers and other periodicals, and
transcriptions of manuscripts made by his corps of copyists from originals still in private hands or in government and church
archives. Bancroft and his staff also created original materials by interviewing pioneers whose recollections might not otherwise
have been preserved, resulting in hundreds of early oral histories termed "dictations."
By 1868, a move became necessary to relieve overcrowding in Bancroft's expanding and prosperous Montgomery Street headquarters.
He bought property on Market Street near Third, and began to build in 1869. In April 1870, the completed five-story building
boasted a modernized steam engine in the basement to provide power for the printing presses. The first four floors accommodated
nine departments, including wholesale and retail books, and stationary, music, law, and education sales; a subscription department;
and a printing, bindery, and blank book production division. The fifth floor of the new Bancroft Building was a literary workshop,
completely divorced from the business, where Bancroft's collections could be put to use. He engaged Librarian, Henry Lebbeus
Oak, to catalog the works he had acquired.
Bancroft continued to collect materials as he planned a vast publication project of a series of histories of western North
American, which in the end numbered 39 volumes: the
History of the Pacific States of North America, also known as Bancroft's
Works. First were five volumes on The Native Races (1874-1875), then three volumes on the History of Central America and six more
on the History of Mexico, followed by two volumes on the Northern Mexican States and Texas, and one treating Arizona and New
Mexico. All of these preceded his central topic, a seven-volume History of California (1886-1890), which were followed by
nine more volumes on other parts of the west, and a number of more informal works, including
Literary Industries, the author's biography.
Bancroft's ten year marriage to his beloved wife, Emily Ketchum Bancroft, ended upon her death in 1869. Left alone to raise
their daughter, Kate, born in 1860, Bancroft devoted his energies to family and literary productions. He placed the full responsibility
of managing the business interests of the firm with his younger brother, A. L. (Albert Little) Bancroft, creating a new partnership
in 1860 under the title, A. L. Bancroft and Company. The business expanded and prospered under A. L. Bancroft's direction
until a fire destroyed the Bancroft Building and its contents in 1886. Old resentments and quarrels erupted following the
traumatic event which eventually severed the brothers personal and professional relationships.
Fortunately, the library (referred to as both the Bancroft Library and the Pacific Library) was spared. In 1881, it had been
moved from the fifth floor of the Market Street location to a specially constructed fire-proofed brick building on Valencia
Street. Following the fire and dissolution of his partnership with A. L. Bancroft in 1886, Hubert Howe Bancroft formed two
new companies: The History Company, and the Bancroft Company. In August 1887, under these new imprints, the production, publication,
and marketing of Bancroft's
Works resumed in the rebuilt quarters at 723 Market Street, known thereafter as the History Building.
Throughout the West, Bancroft's numerous sales agents continued to sell subscriptions to his
Works and the seven-volume
Chronicles of the Builders. Following a successful marketing campaign which secured orders for more than 6,000 sets of volumes during the 1870's and
80's, the canvassing effort was abandoned in 1892. In the late 1880's, Bancroft's methods for writing and marketing his works
came under attack by literary critics and several of his former employees, including Mr. Henry Oak and Mrs. Francis Fuller
Victor. Oak and Victor claimed authorship for major portions of the
Works that were credited solely to Bancroft, calling the historian's methods and reputation into question. The retail book and
stationary store finally closed its doors in 1894, after a long and bitter price war had made the business unprofitable.
In 1905, Bancroft's accomplishments as an historian and collector were recognized by the University of California. The institution
purchased the book and manuscript collections of the eminent historian, numbering over sixty-thousand items, for $250,000.
Although the collector contributed $100,000 of the purchase price, the contents of the library had been appraised at twice
the net cost to the University.
The History of the Pacific States won recognition as an indispensable work for students of western history. The collection as a whole remains a distinguished
primary source of unique books, maps, pamphlets, and documents on the early history of the West, from Alaska to Central America.
In his later years, Bancroft wrote several volumes (
Retrospection, The New Pacific, In These Latter Days) expressing his political, moral, economic, and social concerns for a modernizing world. On March 3, 1918, at the age of
86, Hubert Howe Bancroft died at his home, having been struck by a street car several days earlier. He was survived by his
daughter, Kate, and his four children (Paul, Philip, Griffing, and Lucy Bancroft) by his second wife, Matilida Griffing Bancroft.
They were married in 1876 and she predeceased him in 1910.
A Venture in History: The Production, Publication, and Sale of the Works
of Hubert Howe Bancroft. University of California Press, 1973.
ohn Walton Caughey,
Hubert Howe Bancroft, Historian of the West. University of California Press, 1946.
Library, University of California,
The Bancroft Collection. http://library.berkeley.edu/BANC/banccoll/, June 4,1998.
Scope and Content
The Hubert Howe Bancroft: Records of the Library and Publishing Companies consist of manuscript and printed materials relating
to H. H. Bancroft's work as an author, publisher, book collector, and San Francisco business owner from 1864 to 1910.
The earliest records of the Bancroft Library consist of card catalogs, bibliographies, manuscript dictation lists, and purchase
receipts tracing the growth of the collection, while correspondence and reports document the sale of the library to the University
of California in 1905. Correspondence between H. H. Bancroft and his Librarian, Henry Lebbeus Oak, and other staff, along
with some employee payroll records and drawings of interior workspaces, establish the role of Bancroft's library as a "literary
Bancroft's bilingual assistants produced voluminous bibliographic and research notes from his library for use in constructing
chapter outlines and drafts of Bancroft's 39-volume
History of the Pacific States
of North America. Of note is extensive correspondence between Bancroft, Henry Cerruti, and the Vallejo family in Sonoma, as well as correspondence
with California pioneers for inclusion in the Pioneer Register (part of the
History of California volumes). The bulk of the collection consists of these materials from various stages of publication production carried out
between 1874 and 1890, including cut-and-pasted manuscript chapter drafts in various handwritings, galley proofs, copybooks,
lithographer's proofs, and mock-ups of volumes.
Commerce and Industries of the Pacific Coast by John S. Hittell in 1882. The extensive research for the compilation includes survey booklets and reports covering every
type of trade, manufacture, and service in existence in California and on the West Coast in the early 1880s. Also, found here
are research notes, chapter drafts, and correspondence relating to other Bancroft publications: Hittel's
Pacific Coast Guidebook;
Chronicles of the Builders; The Book of the Fair;
The Book of Wealth; his later works,
Resurgam, among others.
Business records include catalogs and newletters with a variety of books, maps, school texts, music, blank books, and stationary
sold at their San Francisco store by A. L. Bancroft & Co. (H. H. Bancroft in partnership with his brother, Albert Little Bancroft),
The History Company, and the Bancroft Company. Sales instructions, orders, reports, and correspondence from agents employed
by Bancroft to secure subscriptions to his history series contain a record of their canvassing effort along with subscriber
information. In addition, there are promotional materials and review copy of the "Works" for advertising purposes. A small
group of ledgers records the financial activities of A. L. Bancroft & Co. during 1868-1876, while another ledger records music
and piano sales. A few miscellaneous receipts detail repair, building, and maintenance work on the Valencia Street library.