Hubert Howe Bancroft, (Historian)

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Hubert Howe Bancroft, Historian

Birthdate: (85)
Birthplace: Granville, Licking County, OHio, United States
Death: March 2, 1918 (81-89)
at his country home, Walnut Creek, Contra Costa County, California, United States (acute peritonitis)
Place of Burial: Colma, San Mateo County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Azariah "Ashley" Bancroft and Lucy Dameris (Howe) Bancroft
Husband of Emily Bancroft and Matidla Cooley Bancroft
Father of Kate (Bancroft) Richards; Philip Bancroft, Sr.; Paul Bancroft, I; Lucy Bancroft and Griffing Bancroft, Sr.
Brother of Albert Little Bancroft; Hubert Howe Bancroft; <private> Bancroft; Frank Bancroft, PhD and Frank Wells Bancroft, PhD

Occupation: AUTHOR
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Hubert Howe Bancroft, (Historian)

Hubert Howe Bancroft was born on 5 May 1832 in Granville, Ohio. He became a self made millionaire through a San Francisco based publishing business.

After becoming independently wealthy, he devoted his time to become a prominent historian. He collected 60,000 volumes of history, manuscripts, and personal narratives of his own pen. He then hired research assistants to help sort the material. He published 39 volumes of works covering the history of the American and Canadian West, Central America, and Mexico. He produced many other works such as the, "Book of Wealth."

When he died, his magnificent library was donated to the University of California in 1905 as the founding library of UC Berkeley, which was named after him.

Hubert Bancroft passed away on 2 March 1918 in Walnut Creek, California.

Hubert Howe Bancroft (May 5, 1832(1832-05-05) – March 2, 1918) was an American historian and ethnologist who wrote and published works on the western United States, Texas, Mexico, Central America, British Columbia and Alaska.

Between 1848 and 1852 Hubert Bancroft was employed in his brother-in-law's bookstore in Buffalo, New York. He then moved to San Francisco, California where he founded a bookselling and publishing business.

The first edition of his 1895 multi-volume work, entitled, "Book of Wealth" sold in the 19th century for $250,000. Today, a signed first edition, is priced at one million dollars.

Bancroft was born in Granville, Ohio. He attended the Granville Academy until he was sixteen, and he then became a clerk in his brother-in-law's bookstore in Buffalo, New York. In March 1852, he was sent to San Francisco, California, where he founded and managed a branch of the business. He also began his own publishing house. In 1868, he resigned from his business in favor of his brother, A. L. Bancroft. He had accumulated a great library of historical material, and gave up business to devote himself entirely to writing and publishing history.[1]

Bancroft's library consisted of books, maps, and printed and manuscript documents, including a large number of narratives dictated to Bancroft or his assistants by pioneers, settlers, and statesmen. The indexing of this vast collection employed six persons for ten years. The library was moved in 1881 to a fireproof building, and in 1900 numbered about 45,000 volumes.

He developed a plan to publish a history of 39 volumes embracing the history of the whole Pacific coast, from Central America to Alaska. He employed research assistants for the preliminary work of sorting, and then revised it all, and wrote the most important chapters himself, with research being drawn from his materials.

Unfortunately, in 1886 the publishing establishment of A. L. Bancroft & Company was burned, and the sheets of seven volumes of the history he had written were destroyed.[1]

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. Part of a property Bancroft bought (c.1880) in Contra Costa County, California, is now the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

Having formed a vast collection of materials on the history of the Pacific coast, he then employed research assistants to organize and produce statements of facts for large sections of a proposed general history. He said his research assistants were capable investigators, Frances Fuller Victor, in particular, was a highly regarded researcher in her own right.

His works 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.

Criticism of Bancroft was due to his neutral description of both white and non-white. Bancroft dutifully relayed flattering and unflattering accounts and descriptions of both. Thus, Bancroft was eventually discredited by both. White people were disappointed that he disclosed some unflattering facts and so were non-whites because Bancroft showed a respect for Western Civilization an does snot vilify them in spite of his criticisms. Bancroft pointed out that he drew his research from a large body of first hand observational accounts of events. However, because he was even-handed, attempts to discredit him came from white and non-whites alike. More recently, there has been a shift in historical fashion where European historians, and European Americans as whole, were vilified, while sanctifying all other peoples. To describe stone-age pre-Columbian peoples accurately is now considered unacceptable if there is any shade of being neutral or unflattering. Today, history taught at universities glamorizes native tribes, while demonizing all Europeans. However, this absurd criticism of Bancroft was unfair, and prejudicial in itself, as Bancroft was a fervent supporter of natives. he wrote neutral and unflattering portrayals of white people too. So much so, that Bancroft was banned from the Society of California Pioneers for reporting an unvarnished truth about John Sutter, John C. Freemont and other Europeans. Bancroft did not mythologize European settlers and nor did he mythologize ethnic American tribes either. This makes for reliable history. However, prejudicial historians of today seek to discredit him for having any positive portrayal of Europeans at all or accurately describing the natives as having primitive technology and describing the unfair treatment of women in native societies. In the future, bona fide men of history will seek truth, not the current trend to mythologize pre-Columbian stone-age peoples while demonizing all Europeans. As it is, Bancroft had great respect for all ethnic peoples and accorded much praise.

Bancroft was raised in a famous fervent abolitionist family. His father was one of the founders of the anit-slavery movement in the 1830s. The family home that Hubert Howe Bancroft was born in, was documented as a house that served as an Underground Railroad station for fugitive slaves to find shelter after crossing the border into Ohio on their way to Oberlin and then to Vermont and Canada. Hubert's father Ashley, allowed the family barn to be used for the 1836 meeting of the Ohio State Anti-Slavery Society. (This was 25 years before the Civil War). The meeting's end led to the only riot in the town's history. Both sides were abolitionist, but they debated the means by which to free the slaves. One side advocated immediate emancipation while the opposing side advocated a plan to pay the planters for the freedom of the slaves and gradually re-vamp the economy plantation by plantation into a free labor system, where slaves were paid, homes built for them and the option of working elsewhere, to prevent the complete collapse of the economy, homelessness or starvation of slaves, or possible danger to the planters and slaves alike. The abolitionist meeting broke up into a riot. Neither plan could guarantee a smooth transition. It was another 25 years before the Civil War and Emancipation, followed by a complete collapse of the economy and homelessness for slaves.

Bancroft also praised Western Civilization, which is no longer taught in American universities today. Importantly, he described a number of tribes when there was still opportunity for first-hand observation. Bancroft's works will stand the test of time as the most reliable accounts and contemporaneous, or at least closest to the era, of the actual existence of the tribes, while many more recent histories will be seen as propaganda mis-representing history for the purpose of furthering a racial motivated agenda to posit pre-Columbian tribes as uniquely saintly at all times, and equal to all other world peoples in contribution to world civilization, while discrediting and criminalizing European peoples exclusively.





Written by Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Book of Wealth was published in 1895. This incredibly rare 10 volume book was only printed 400 times. This original printing is and was extremely rare, only being sold to the wealthiest families at that time. Among these were the Rockefellers, the Morgans, the Rothschilds, and the Kennedys, to name a few.

To show the incredible value of this set, the first book, printing 001, sold for $250,000 in 1898, and each additional copy, including this one, sold for $2,500 USD in 1898. Today very few copies remain, making The Book of Wealth priceless, untouchable, and only suitable for permanent collections in the libraries of the wealthy. A set came up for sale on eBay for one million dollars.

This is the finest book on the history of economics and finances relative to the history of the human race ever written. The Book of Wealth references and studies the accumulation of wealth by the Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans and many of the wealthiest people in the recorded history of mankind. It is a deep exploration on finances and their mode of exchange. Since many copies of this book have been destroyed and lost with time, only a handful of copies remain. This is one of the original 250 books, complete in every way and in fantastic condition. It came with an extremely rare and unrecorded “11th” book, containing 10 original watercolor paintings from a now very famous artist. Brief research on these paintings shows that each may be worth $10,000 or more. There is no written record of these paintings found thus far. All evidence indicates that these are original paintings made custom for the purchaser of this volume.

This book is printing number 52 of the 250 copies ever printed and is signed by the author himself. The Book of Wealth is 10 massive volumes, with the dimensions of each book measuring 17” x 22”, and the very rare 11th volume contains a package of original and one of a kind watercolor paintings. This particular book was printed for William Ross Proctor from NJ, wealthy stock broker and genealogical authority. He was an extremely wealthy individual in the 1900's. How this book made it to London before being purchased by me is unknown. The covers are made of heavy golden silk and lined with white brocade. The book is embellished with original watercolors and beautiful engraving. There is no significant damage to any of the volumes, no water damage, torn or missing pages. This is one of the rarest and coveted books in the world, and this particular book is in immaculate condition given its age. It is one of only a handful of copies still remaining in the world with all 10 original and matching volumes present. This book has been sought after by book collectors around the globe and is considered extremely valuable. The very few who own a copy will simply not sell it at any price.



Several schools are named for Bancroft, including Bancroft Middle School in Long Beach, California and Hubert H. Bancroft Elementary school in Sacramento.

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 Texas, and the North Mexican States (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 Northwest 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 Pastoral (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)[4] This volume gives an account of his methods of work.[5]

The early American chroniclers (1883)

Chronicles of the Builders of the Commonwealth: Historical Character Study (1891–1892)

Book of the Fair (1893)

Resources and Development of Mexico (1893)

Achievements of civilization; the book of wealth (1896–1905)

The New Pacific (1912)

Retrospection, political and personal (1912, 1915)

Why a world centre of industry at San Francisco Bay (1916)

In these latter days (1917)

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.


Indeed, if anyone was well placed to write a masterpiece about wealth creation it was Hubert Bancroft. He became a self made millionaire through his publishing business. To have been able to purchase his wealth building secrets in the late 1800s you would have needed to have been extremely rich. An advertisement in the New York Times, dated 21 February 1898, confirms the selling price of "The Book of Wealth" as being $2,500 per copy for the first, or cygne noir edition. The second edition was priced at $1,000 per copy. Allowing for inflation, this equates to a staggering 25 fold increase in today's economy.

The same advert promotes "The Book of Wealth" with the words:

"It is to deal with all that is worth knowing concerning wealth, from the dawn of history to Joe Leiter's wheat deal."

Nonetheless, in his book, Bancroft reveals that the meaning of the term "wealth" has evolved over time and is relative to what we have and where we live. He further confirms that the subject of wealth is not treated in a scientific manner. Bancroft's works are therefore a philosophical and historical analysis of wealth creation and concentration of power through the ages.

In "The Book of Wealth," Bancroft questions how longing for wealth can possibly be a bad thing if it leads to enjoyment, power, independence and physical and intellectual well being. Such desire, he believes, only becomes evil if it develops into greed. Bancroft further claims that the pursuit and anticipation of wealth is far more pleasurable than the actual possession of it.

The vast majority of the public have not had an opportunity to read "The Book of Wealth," even though it was initially printed in 1895. This is attributable not only to its price but also the limited number of copies published. Whenever Bancroft's works come up for auction, there is usually fierce bidding. Consequently, Bancroft's wealth creation secrets have been confined to the richest of families.

Such scarcity has undoubtedly increased the mystery surrounding the contents of the book. However, it was never intended to be a "get rich" scheme. As Bancroft himself affirms, "The Book of Wealth" is:

"An Inquiry into the Nature and Distribution of the World's Resources and Riches, and a History of the Origin and Influence of Property, its Possession, Accumulation and Disposition in all Ages and among all Nations."

Hubert Bancroft's Family:

Hubert Bancroft's first wife was Emily Ketchum of Buffalo, New York, who he married in 1858. She was a very religious woman. The couple had one daughter together, Kate, who was born in 1860. Emily sadly died in 1869.

Bancroft's second wife was Matilda Cooley Griffing whom he married in 1876. Matilda bore him four children; Paul, Griffing, Philip and Lucy. Matilda died circa 1908.

Although Bancroft was very close to Kate, during he childhood, she left her husband and the United States to go and live in France for several years. Although Bancroft instructed her return, following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, there remained a rift between them, due to Kate's decision to leave her husband.

Lucy never married but adopted a German boy, to whom she gave the family name Bancroft, a matter which Hubert Howe Bancroft resented.

Hubert Howe Bancroft was a cousin of historian George Bancroft who served as the U.S. Secretary of War and wrote the History of the United States, which was the third most popular book in American homes after the Bible and the Farmer's Almanac.

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Hubert Howe Bancroft, (Historian)'s Timeline

May 5, 1832
Granville, Licking County, OHio, United States
Age 27
March 2, 1918
Age 85
Walnut Creek, Contra Costa County, California, United States
Colma, San Mateo County, California, United States