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Hubert A. Lowman Photographic Archive

Identifier: H-Mss-1113

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Hubert A. Lowman Photographic Archive consists of photographic materials, papers, books, magazines, printed matter, business archives, and other property representing the body of work of Hubert A. Lowman, photographer and publisher, and the Lowman Publishing Company. The collection’s first series includes the business papers of the Lowman Publishing Company featuring correspondence, purchase orders, client lists, and other ancillary materials related to the company. Artwork and draft materials for various publications produced by the Lowman Publishing Company are also included. The second series, and bulk of the collection, are Lowman’s photographic materials created for commercial and personal use. The series is organized into several subseries by format and includes color and black and white photographic prints and negatives, as well as color slides and transparencies. The photographic materials primarily showcase the Southwestern United States, California Missions, and U.S. National Parks, while also highlighting the Lowman family and other locations throughout the United States. Photographs and materials used for commercial purposes were primarily produced between 1946 to 1966. Photographs after 1973 were primarily taken for Lowman’s personal use and tend to be scenic/travel images or family photographs. The collection’s third and final series features publications, books, magazines, calendars, postcards, advertisements, murals, stickers, and other ephemeral items created by the Lowman Publishing Company or featuring photographs taken by Hubert Lowman. Nine full sets of educational study prints created for the Los Angeles City School District are also included, in addition to large souvenir posters and uncut printer's sheets of study prints and postcards. This series includes a full-run of Arizona Highways magazine from 1946-1966.


  • Creation: 1941-2006 and undated


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.


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.


79.5 Linear Feet (39 records boxes, 8 document boxes, 6 oversize document boxes, 2 flat boxes, 7 telescoping roll storage boxes, 1 map folder)


The Hubert A. Lowman Photographic Archive consists of photographic materials, papers, books, magazines, printed matter, business archives, and other property representing the body of work of Hubert A. Lowman, photographer and publisher, and the Lowman Publishing Company. The Archive spans nearly 70 years and provides insight into the business and subject matter of a commercial photographer. The bulk of the Archive focuses on the American West (primarily California and Arizona) and supports research into the historical depiction of their locations. Over his photographic career, Lowman’s clients included Union Oil Company, American Airlines, the California Mission Trails Association (CMTA), Disneyland, Los Angeles City Schools, Arizona Highways magazine, regional postcard distributors from California to Mississippi, and the concessionaires of national parks including Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone.

Organization and Arrangement

This collection has been organized into the following series and subseries:

  • Series 1: Lowman Publishing Company, 1945-2003 and undated
  • Series 2: Photographic materials, 1944-2006 and undated
  • Suberies 2.1: Black and white negatives, 1962 and undated
  • Subseries 2.2: Black and white prints, 1944-1963 and undated
  • Subseries 2.3: Color prints and negatives, 1966-2006 and undated
  • Subseries 2.4: Color slides, 1953-1998 and undated
  • Subseries 2.5: Color transparencies, 1958-1971 and undated
  • Subseries 2.6: Film, undated
  • Series 3: Printed matter, 1941-2001 and undated
File folders are arranged alphabetically by title. Contents within files are typically arranged in chronological order.

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert P. Lowman, March 2018.


No additions to the collection are anticipated.

Separated Materials

Book and periodical items stored separately from the archival materials can be found in Library Search by using the Uniform Title, "Hubert A. Lowman Photographic Archive" or by copying and pasting the following into the search box: "ut:Hubert A. Lowman Photographic Archive".

Processing Information

Processed by Sean Stanley, Digital and Print Collections Archivist, Special Collections, The Claremont Colleges Library. All photographic materials were placed into archival sleeves according to size and format to ensure safe handling. All sleeved photographic materials and non-photographic materials were placed into acid-free file folders and housed in archival boxes. Materials originating from a single box or envelope were kept together in file folders and labeled indicating their relationship to the original housing. Photographic materials were labeled with location and/or subject matter with dates, where available. Labels or captions accompanying color transparencies were photocopied onto acid-free paper and stored with transparencies. Mounted color transparencies were removed from cardboard mounts, with annotations photocopied onto acid-free paper and stored together with the transparencies in archival envelopes. Where possible, oversize materials were stored flat in oversize archival boxes or added to large folders and stored in map case drawers. Oversize materials too large to be stored flat were rolled and placed in telescoping rolled storage boxes.

Hubert A. Lowman Photographic Archive
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 & Archives, The Claremont Colleges Library Repository

800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States