Hubert H. Bancroft

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The First-Hand Organization website features the 39 volumes of the Bancroft's Library, which include the histories of Arizona, California, Central America, Mexico, native people, Nevada, New Mexico, North Mexican states and Texas, Northwest coast, and Utah.

Hubert Howe Bancroft was a librarian, bookseller and major historian of the American West.

Bancroft was born in Granville, Ohio, on May 5, 1832. He received little formal education. By the early 1850s, Bancroft had become a clerk in a bookstore in Buffalo, New York. In 1852, he left to participate in the California Gold Rush.

In 1856, Bancroft opened his own bookstore in San Francisco, California. His business was successful, and by 1870, Bancroft was also selling sheet music, pianos, and organs. For several years, Bancroft was the largest bookseller west of Chicago, Illinois. He also accumulated a sizable library for his own personal use. Most of his own books were about the history of the American West. By 1905, his personal library exceeded sixty thousand volumes.

Bancroft became quite interested in the Pacific Coast region of the United States and wrote a thirty-nine volume history on the subject. He hired researchers and authors to assist him in this project. Several of the volumes credited to Bancroft actually were written by some of these hired writers. Bancroft's work was an exhaustive history of the Pacific Coast.

In 1905, Bancroft donated his personal library to the University of California. Bancroft's collection became the nucleus of the Bancroft Library, one of the leading archival repositories in the United States. Bancroft was struck by a streetcar and died two days later on March 2, 1918.

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