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Hubert Howe Bancroft

Hubert Howe Bancroft
Hubert Howe Bancroft was one of the great chroniclers of the American West and of North America. He was a prolific writer and historian as well as a respected ethnologist.

Born in Granville, Ohio on May 5th 1832, Bancroft attended a local school and was tutored by his mother. He was unable to go to college because the costs were too high so he began work at 16 in his brother-in-law’s bookshop in Buffalo, N.Y.

By 1856 he had travelled across Europe and America and opened his own bookshop in San Francisco, before quickly becoming the largest bookseller in the West. It was the profits from his business success that enabled him to build one of the biggest historical libraries (the collection had over 60,000 volumes in it) on America and western civilisation.

Eventually the collection came to include not only books and pamphlets but also manuscripts, maps, newspapers and other periodicals, and transcriptions of manuscripts made by his corps of copyists from originals in private hands, or in governmental and church archives. He 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.”

38 of his 39 works are available in libraries and on academic websites across the world. The only one not available is The Book of Wealth which was published for a select group and which very rarely comes on the market.