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Hubert A. Lowman Photographic Archive

Identifier: H-Mss-1113

  • Staff Only


The collection consists of photographs, papers, books, magazines, business archives, and other property. Collection represents the body of work of Hubert A. Lowman, photographer and publisher, and the Lowman Publishing Company.


  • circa 1939-2006


Language of Materials

Languages represented in the collection: English.


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Biography / Administrative History

Hubert A. Lowman was born on April 15, 1913, in Clay County, Missouri to Edward Lowman and Stacia Inez Potts. His father Edward was born in 1871 in Nebraska and grew up in Dickinson County, Kansas where his childhood was marked with experiences of frontier life. Edward shared his memories of growing up in the “wild west” with young Hubert, instilling his son with a lifelong fascination of the American West.

Hubert Lowman was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, where he graduated as valedictorian of East High School in 1930. Following graduation, Lowman found work as an advertising artist for a company that published yellow pages for the phone company, and he continued to work as a commercial artist until the outbreak of World War II.

During his childhood, Lowman befriended a neighborhood boy a few years his senior named Ray Atkeson. Atkeson had left Kansas City and moved to Oregon where he began working as a scenic photographer of the Pacific Northwest. After seeing one of Atkeson’s picture spreads featured in The Kansas City Star, Lowman became inspired to take up photography. Purchasing a second-hand Graflex camera, Lowman began pursuing his newfound hobby and wrote to Atkeson for advice as a novice photographer (Lowman 1998, 3). The two would maintain correspondence throughout their lives, forming a lifelong friendship.

Throughout the 1930s, Lowman’s interest in photography grew and he would spend his annual two-week vacation taking pictures in various locations throughout the Western United States. Lowman married Martha Guynn Howard on November 19, 1939, and following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the two moved to South Gate, California where he found work in the shipyards in nearby Wilmington. Helping to build Liberty cargo ships, Lowman explained that he was hired “for the sole reason I could read blueprints,” and remained in defense work for the duration of the war (Lowman 1998, 3).

Following the war, Lowman embarked on a career as a freelance scenic photographer and had early success selling his photographs to periodicals such as Arizona Highways and Desert magazines. As he established himself in the profession, Lowman steadily developed a base of customers and began accepting contracts of customer-directed photo assignments. Over the years, his clients included Union Oil Company, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the concessionaires of national parks including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, Lassen Volcanic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. While his clients would often use his photographs for promotional postcards, Lowman consistently sold photographs to companies like Smith News in San Francisco and American Airlines for advertisements and travel posters. His photographs were also featured in a series of California State textbooks written by Helen Bauer: Good Times at Home, Good Times at the Park, Good Times at the Circus, California Mission Days, and California Rancho Days.

An early subject of Lowman’s photographs were the 21 historic Spanish missions in California. In the late 1940s, Lowman entered a business partnership with the California Mission Trails Association (CMTA) to help encourage tourism to the missions and obtained the right to use its name on a series of postcards to be sold in the mission gift shops. In 1950, the CMTA published the book California’s Missions, however had limited success distributing them. With approximately 10,000 books remaining unsold by 1957, the CMTA offered the books to Lowman, who in return for paying off the outstanding balance to the printer, received possession of the existing books and the rights to future copies and editions. Lowman added the books to his line of postcards, successfully selling them to the gift shops at the missions. This marked a transition for Lowman who moved away from being solely a photographer to a businessperson who published his own photographic works. During his partnership with the CMTA, Lowman was the photographer of more than 2,000 postcards and published a half-dozen books about the Spanish missions in California, all featuring his photography. The original California’s Missions book went through more than 20 printings and sold approximately 250,000 copies over more than 50 years before it was taken out of print.

In the late 1950s, Lowman partnered with the curriculum department of the Los Angeles City Schools to create full-color study prints for classroom use. Initial study prints focused on the history of Los Angeles and the Spanish missions in California with other sets soon following, including Colonial Williamsburg, Wildlife Conservation, and the Alaskan Frontier. The study prints became popular amongst elementary schools and provided Lowman with his primary source of income for the next decade.

For most of his career, Lowman operated his business under the name “Hubert A. Lowman, Photographer-Publisher” with his wife Martha joining him as a partner in the 1970s. Following Martha’s death in 1992, Lowman brought his eldest son Edward into the business, who helped conceive the “Lowman Publishing Company” name which endures today. Edward passed away on January 23, 2004, and younger son Robert and his wife Kathleen operated the business until Hubert’s death in December 2006 at the age of 93. Ownership of the Lowman Publishing Company has been passed to Robert Lowman and it continues as a successful company today.

Bibliography Lowman, Hubert A. 1998. 50 Years of Photographing the West, Including All 21 California Missions. Edited by Edward A Lowman. Arroyo Grande, CA: Hubert A. Lowman.


40.75 Linear Feet

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert P. Lowman, March 2018.


No additions to the collection are anticipated.

Hubert A. Lowman Photographic Archive
In Progress
Sean Stanley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the 01 - Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library Repository

800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States