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Elbert Hubbard: An American Original - WNED | PBS


Elbert Green Hubbard is born in Bloomington, Illinois.
The Hubbard family moves to a farm in the village of Hudson, near Bloomington.
Elbert's cousin, Justus Weller, visits the Hubbard family. He and his wife's brother, John Larkin, are business partners. They have a soap-manufacturing factory in Chicago.

Elbert Hubbard, aged 16, leaves the family farm, traveling town to town in the family wagon painted in bright colors, "J. Weller & Company – Practical Soaps."
Weller and Larkin split the business, and Elbert Hubbard, aged 19, follows Larkin to Buffalo where he became a junior partner in the Larkin Soap Company.
Hubbard, aged 22, is admitted to a share in the Larkin soap enterprise, and the firm of J. D. Larkin & Co. is organized.
Elbert Hubbard, aged 25, marries Bertha Crawford. At the Larkin Company, Hubbard pioneers mail-order merchandising, offering premiums and bonuses in return for sales.
Elbert (Bert) Hubbard II is born in Buffalo, New York.
Elbert Hubbard, aged 28, purchases an acre of land with a large house in East Aurora, New York, a horse-town some 20 miles out of Buffalo. He commuted to and from work on the red coaches of the Pennsylvania Line.
Ralph Hubbard is born.
"Factory to family" becomes the Larkin slogan. Hubbard's direct marketing strategy cuts out sales commissions and enables the company to offer the public better premiums.
Sanford Hubbard is born. The Larkin Co. continues to expand.
Elbert Hubbard, aged 33, meets Alice Luanne Moore, a schoolteacher at the Aurora school.
Hubbard, aged 35, writes his first novel, The Man: A Story of Today. He publishes under the nom-de-plume Aspasia Hobbs.

Alice Moore departs western New York to attend the Emerson College of Oratory in Boston.
Annual sales at the Larkin Company grow to near $220,000. By year's end, Hubbard, aged 37, decides to sells his business interest for $75,000.
Alice Moore is living in Hingham, Massachusetts. Hubbard, aged 37, enrolls at Harvard in the fall as a special student "to gain enlightenment in history, law, government, and economics," but he does not complete the semester.
Hubbard takes a voyage to England and Ireland. He visits the home and press of William Morris. When he returns to East Aurora, the idea occurs to him to write a series of "Little Journeys." Hubbard and Harry Taber, an East Aurora neighbor and business associate from his Larkin days, had created a prototype – an album of pictures and biographical sketches of authors used for a promotional campaign.

Alice and Elbert have a daughter, Miriam. Alice eventually leaves her daughter with her sister and brother-in-law in Buffalo and moves to Denver, Colorado. Hubbard agrees to pay William Woodward and his wife five dollars per week for Miriam's support.
In January, the first "Little Journeys" is completed.

Harry Taber, editor of the East Aurora Citizen, William Mackintosh, managing editor of Buffalo's Evening News, and Elbert Hubbard begin publication of a chapbook called The Philistine.

In October, the name "Roycroft Printing Shop" is adopted. It harks back to the 17th century and the work of the bookbinders, Samuel and Thomas Roycroft.

Hubbard acquires ownership of The Philistine magazine and the Roycroft Press from Taber on November 29, 1895.
Katherine Hubbard is born.

Hubbard, aged 40, continues the Roycroft printing operations at the Regulator Building with the publication of the first Roycroft book, The Song of Songs, a reprint of the Bible story with a commentary by Elbert Hubbard. The book, designed and hand-printed by Harry Taber, displays on the title page a double cross mark based on an emblem used by the early Venetian printer Nicolas Jenson. Taber claims to have found the mark in a book published by Scribner's in 1894, inserting the letter "R" in the circle to create a Roycroft trademark.

Construction of a new print shop on South Grove Street begins.
Hubbard, aged 41, embarks on his first national lecture tour.
Production of limited edition, signed and numbered, master-crafted books continues. Furniture production begins.
With Hubbard, 41, as its sole author, The Philistine becomes his soapbox. For the March issue, he dashes off "A Message to Garcia" a short, untitled essay on the American work ethic in order to fill space.

Nearly 60 employees work in the Roycroft shops. More workers are engaged out of doors laying pavement, working on the Roycroft farm, and constructing the Roycroft campus.
Circulation for The Philistine reaches 52,000. Roycroft begins to publish the "Little Journeys" series. Hubbard, aged 44, is in demand as a lecturer.
William Woodward files suit against Hubbard for back support of Elbert's illegitimate daughter, Miriam, whom Woodward and his wife have been raising. Elbert and Alice’s affair becomes a scandal. Bertha leaves Elbert taking Ralph and Katherine with her to John Larkin's in Buffalo.
Circulation of The Philistine reaches 102,000. George Daniels estimates the New York Central Railroad alone to have distributed one million copies of "A Message to Garcia."

A blacksmith shop, later called The Roycroft Copper Shop, is constructed.
Construction of the Roycroft Inn begins. Hubbard, aged 47, is divorced.
Elbert Hubbard and Alice Moore are married in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Hubbard’s sons, 21-year-old Bert and 16-year-old Sandy, remain with their father and Alice and help with the management of Roycroft.
A leather department is established on the campus and the Roycroft Inn opens.
Copper Shop production begins.
The flow of visitors to Roycroft continues to increase. Many come just to meet Elbert Hubbard.

Hubbard publishes White Hyacinths, a tribute to Alice.
Hubbard, aged 51, begins publication of The Fra, a title derived from his sobriquet, "Fra Elbertus." The large format monthly magazine, designed by Dard Hunter, with a roster of contributors, Alice Hubbard most prominent among them, and regular commercial advertising pages becomes a successful vehicle for marketing Roycroft wares and other merchandise.
Construction of the powerhouse, which furnishes electricity and heating to the Roycroft campus, is completed. Roycroft has some 500 employees.
Hubbard, aged 58, writes an article in The Philistine entitled, "Who Lifted the Lid off Hell?" in which he blames big business for the War in Europe.
Hubbard, aged 58, gives a talk to the Roycrofters in which he announces that Bert will be in charge while he and Alice are in England.

Intent on gathering stories and publishing reports on the war, hopeful that he can broker peace with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Hubbard announces himself dockside in New York City, an "ex-officio General Inspector of the Universe, with power to investigate anything in any way I choose, as long as I do not violate the Pure-Food laws."

On May 7, Alice and Elbert Hubbard perish after their ship, the RMS Lusitania, is torpedoed by the Germans and sinks off the coast of Ireland.

Elbert Hubbard II, executor of the estate, assumes responsibility for the management of Roycroft.
Roycroft commissions Jerome Connor, a former Roycroft sculptor living in his native Ireland, to design and cast a statue of Elbert Hubbard.
Statue of Elbert Hubbard is unveiled.
The Roycroft Shops declare bankruptcy.
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Funding for Elbert Hubbard: An American Original provided by The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
Elbert Hubbard: An American Original is a production of WNED-TV