Fifty original black and white photographs, ranging in size from 4 x 5 inches to 8 x 12 inches, the majority being ca. 8 x 10 inches. Hubbard is in 37 of the images, the rest show landscapes and people encountered on his expeditions, and we presume these were taken by him. Many are publicity photos with typed captions (some quite detailed) affixed to the back; others have handwritten captions. Many are stamped "Received by the Examiner Reference Library" with the date of receipt, others are stamped simply "Father Bernard Hubbard." Nearly all date from the 1920s and 1930s. Several have been used for publication and trimmed or touched up for that purpose.
BBernard R. Hubbard was a Jesuit priest, explorer, photographer, and lecturer who did much to familiarize Americans with the beauty of the Alaska and the lives of the region’s native peoples. Born in San Francisco in 1888, Hubbard studied at several West Coast colleges and universities before heading to Austria, where he was ordained as a priest and also became enamored of the mountains. After seeing him head off on climbing expeditions in every spare moment, his fellow theology students dubbed him “Der Gletscher Pfaffer” (The Glacier Priest), a sobriquet he would adopt proudly for the rest of his days. Though his "day job" was head of the Department of Geology at Santa Clara University, for nearly 30 years Hubbard conducted annual summer expeditions to Alaska and the Arctic. He funded this work (and also supported Catholic missions in Alaska) by touring the country upon his return, delivering lectures--illustrated with photographs and film he shot himself--to large and enthusiastic audiences. Although his expeditions had scientific and anthropologic goals, scholars have generally pronounced them to be of little scientific consequence. Nonetheless, Hubbard had charm, showmanship, and photographic talent on his side. According to historian Mary Jane Miller (Screening Culture, p. 115), “Hubbard became a household name after his experiences and photographs were published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1932. By 1937, he was the highest paid lecturer in the United States.” The photos in this archive capture a man who clearly enjoyed the spotlight and valued being seen as both a rugged outdoorsman and a man of God. We see him scaling rock walls, cooking over a campfire, and posing with sled dogs and ice axes, while other images show him dressed in full vestments, saying mass in remote valleys in the Aleutian Islands. There are images of the glaciers and volcanoes he explored, but also of the "Christ of the Bering Sea," a bronze statue purchased by Hubbard and erected on King's Island (which, according to the caption "was selected because of its location between Siberia and Alaska, and because its inhabitants are all Roman Catholic"). As a whole, this collection nicely captures the public persona of a man whose sense of adventure and ability to share his enthusiasm combined bring the American public a new appreciation of the wonders of the Alaskan wilderness.