Pioneer Michigan geologist, assistant to state geologist Douglass Houghton on the Michigan Geological Survey, 1837-1842, completed portions of U.S. Land Survey of the Upper Peninsula begun by Douglass Houghton, 1845-1846. Later active in family's land business and lumber trade. Papers consist of notebooks containing field notes, sketches and maps; private journals covering Michigan geological expeditions and other trips, including the peninsula coast survey, Lake Superior and Upper Peninsula surveys and surveys of Wayne, Monroe and other counties; also weather memoranda, 1835-1864; miscellaneous accounts; and other papers largely relating to geology.
The collection consists primarily of Hubbard's pocket-size field notebooks. The notebooks are arranged, for the most part, chronologically for the period 1837 to 1893. Several notebooks that do not fit the chronological sequence are placed at the end of the series of notebooks. The notebooks for the years 1837 to 1840 have been bound, probably by Hubbard, into larger volumes. For convenience the later notebooks have been grouped into "volumes" by the library. Each "volume" is in a separate case. The notebooks contain personal journals, geological notes, and meteorological registers, along with sketches of landforms, scenery, and people, geological sections, and maps.
A few loose papers are found at the end of the collection.
The most extensive notebooks are those written between 1837 and 1840, when Hubbard was working for the Michigan Geological Survey, and in 1845 and 1846, when he was conducting the combined land and geological survey of the Upper Peninsula. In addition to the main sequence of notebooks for those years (volumes 1-8 and 10-12), that period is represented by separate meteorological registers (volumes 18 and 22), separate geological field notes for the 1840 expedition to the Lake Superior region (volume 21), and three reports on Hubbard's 1846 surveys (volumes 23-24 and loose papers).
This finding aid contains two appendixes. The first, compiled by the initial cataloger of the collection in 1958, specifies where many of the topics indexed in the card catalog for this collection can be found in the series of notebooks. The second contains an inventory of the maps found in the collection.
Several portions of the collection have been published.
The notebooks for May 23-August 8, 1840 (volumes 7-9 and parts of 21) have been published as Lake Superior Journal: Bela Hubbard's Account of the 1840 Houghton Expedition}, edited by Bernard C. Peters. Marquette, Mich.: Northern Michigan University Press, 1983. [MHC call number EA/91/H875/L192]
The "Catalogue of the Geological Specimens, Hubbard & Ives Survey, 1846" (volume 23), the "Report on the Geology &c. of District Surveyed by Messrs. Higgins & Hubbard, 1846, Lake Superior, with Catalogue of Minerals, Sections, etc." (volume 24), and the "Report upon the Geology & Topography of the District on L. Superior Subdivided in 1846 by Hubbard & Ives" (loose material) have been published in Report on the Geological and Mineralogical Survey of the Mineral Lands of the United States in the State of Michigan .., by Charles T. Jackson. Washington, D.C.: Printed for the House of Representatives, 1849. (31st Congress, 1st Session, House Executive Document 5, Part 3) [MHC call number EA/153/U58/M583]
The reports of Hubbard's surveys for the Michigan Geological Survey, based on his notes have been published in Geological Reports of Douglass Houghton: First State Geologist of Michigan, 1837-1845. Lansing, Mich.: Michigan Historical Commission, 1928. [MHC call number EA/153/MG345/G345]
Hubbard's autobiography has been published as Memorials of a Half-Century. New York: Putnam's, 1887. [MHC call number EA/60/H875/M533]
Other Bela Hubbard papers are found at the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.