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Hubbard, Bernard Rosecrans. OAC

 
 

 

Biographical History

Bernard Rosecrans Hubbard, S.J., (1888-1962), known as the "Glacier Priest," was an explorer, photographer, and popular lecturer. He was born 24 November 1888 in San Francisco, son of George M. Hubbard (d. 1914) and Catherine Wilder Hubbard (d. 1910). He had a brother John, a mining engineer, and a sister, Mary Hubbard Stanley.

Hubbard grew up in Santa Cruz, California, and lived for a time in a house built by his brother John in the Santa Cruz mountains near Ben Lomond. The site, now owned by Lockheed Corporation, is marked by a memorial plaque. It is from this period in his life that Hubbard dated the beginning of his interests in photography and nature.

Hubbard attended Santa Clara College from 1906 to 1908. He entered the Jesuit order on 7 Sept. 1908, and spent the years 1908-1910 at the Jesuit Novitiate in Los Gatos, California. He served his regency at Los Angeles College from 1913-1918. Hubbard studied philosophy at Mt.St. Michael's, a Jesuit seminary in Spokane, Washington, receiving an M.A. degree through Gonzaga University in 1921.

Prior to his ordination as a priest, Hubbard studied theology at Innsbruck, Austria, in 1921-22. While at Innsbruck, he received the name "Der Gletscher Pfarrer," or "Glacier Priest," because of his liking for climbing in the Alps. During his stay in Austria, he became friendly with some of the actors in the Oberammergau Passion Play,including Anton Lang. Hubbard was ordained a priest in Austria in 1923. He returned to Santa Clara, where he taught German, geology, and religion. He received honorary doctorates from Marquette University in 1937 and Trinity College in 1941.

Hubbard first went to Alaska in 1927. His summer expeditions of exploration and photography became an annual event. During the winters, he traveled around the United States giving lectures and showing his films, with the proceeds going to support the Jesuit missions in Alaska. "Half the year the highest paid lecturer in the worldd, the other half a wanderer among treacherous craters and glaciers": thus The Literary Digest described him in 1937. Hubbard's best know expeditions were perhaps that of 1931, during which he completed both a 1600-mile mush down the Yukon River, visiting missions, and a expedition into the erupting Aniakchak crater, and his expedition of 1936 to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.

During and after World War II, Hubbard became involved with the U.S. military, both as an adviser on Alaska and as lecturer/chaplain to the troops. In 1945, he traveled around the world, photographing damaged and destroyed Jesuit institutions as part of a fund-raising campaign. In his later years, Hubbard returned to Santa Clara, where he established the Hubbard Educational Films, also called Hubbard Laboratories, an educational film production and distribution service based on the University campus.

In 1955 Hubbard had a stroke in Hartford, Connecticut, during a lecture tour. He had to curtail some of his activity, although he returned to Alaska a few more times. Accounts of the last years of his life describe him as writing his autobiography and cataloguing his photographs, neither of which he finished. Hubbard died 28 May 1962 in Donohoe Infirmary at the University of Santa Clara.

From the finding aid for Inventory of Bernard Rosecrans Hubbard, S.J., Papers (Santa Clara University Archives)

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