bancroft way?? : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Okay, technically this is a berkeley question, but I'm hopin someone can help. who was Bancroft Way named after? hubert howe bancroft, like the library, or some other dude?? I've heard conflicting reports... gracias

-- elysse bancroft (, June 07, 2002


No one has answered this question so I'm going to take a stab at it. I can't give you a definitive answer but I believe the answer to this question has to do with time unless the street name was changed which I doubt that it was. The reasoning goes like this. Someone does something great or someone makes a big donation and after a number of years a street may be named after him. For example, if you want to have a new building on the Berkeley campus named after you, donate 20 million dollars to the University and your name will be stamped there forever even though most people won't even know who you were. I am mentioning that because that is exactly what a friend of mine did. Getting back, as I said, the answer lies in the time factor and the fame and donation factor. There were two major things that Hubert Howe Bancroft was famous for. They were his 39 volume history of the American West and his humongous book collection. His history of the American West was published around 1870 but in my opinion that in and of itself is not an accomplishment to name a street after him nor even a library. However, around 1905, he donated his entire 60,000 volume book collection which he had accumulated as a result of his San Francisco Book Store to the University of California. That was enough for the university to stamp his name on their library. No street name was changed either and Bancroft way had existed long before this donation and his history of the American West. So I believe the answer to that riddle is George Bancroft who was secretary of the Navy during the Mexican-American war. Surprisingly, George Bancroft was also a collector of books and wrote a book on the history of the United States. Bancroft is not that common a name so it is kind of strange and mysterious that both names ended up in Berkeley with the Bancroft library being just a short walk away from Bancroft Way.

-- Harry Murphy (, June 13, 2002.

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