Gardiner Greene Hubbard
Hubbard in 1875
President of Bell Telephone Company
In office
Preceded byCreated
Succeeded byWilliam Forbes
Personal details
Born(1822-08-25)August 25, 1822
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedDecember 11, 1897(1897-12-11) (aged 75)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Gertrude Mercer McCurdy
(m. 1846)
  • Robert
  • Gertrude
  • Mabel
  • Roberta
  • Grace
  • Marian
RelativesGardiner Greene (grandfather)
Richard McCurdy (brother-in-law)
Alexander Graham Bell (son-in-law)
Grace Hubbard Fortescue (granddaughter)
EducationPhillips Academy
Alma materDartmouth College
Harvard Law School
OccupationLawyer, businessman

Gardiner Greene Hubbard (August 25, 1822 – December 11, 1897) was an American lawyer, financier, and community leader.[1] He was a founder and first president of the National Geographic Society; a founder and the first president of the Bell Telephone Company which later evolved into AT&T, at times the world's largest telephone company; a founder of the journal Science; and an advocate of oral speech education for the deaf.[1]

One of his daughters, Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, married Alexander Graham Bell.[2]

Early life

Hubbard was born, raised and educated in Boston, Massachusetts, to Samuel Hubbard (June 2, 1785 – December 24, 1847), a Massachusetts Supreme Court justice,[3] and Mary Ann Greene (April 19, 1790 – July 10, 1827).[4] His younger brother was Charles Eustis Hubbard (1842-1928), who later became the first secretary and clerk of the Bell Telephone Company.[5]

Hubbard was a grandson of Boston merchant Gardiner Greene.[6] He was also a descendant of Lion Gardiner, an early English settler and soldier in the New World who founded the first English settlement in what later became the State of New York, and whose legacy includes Gardiners Island which remains in the family.[3]

He attended Phillips Academy, Andover, and graduated from Dartmouth in 1841. He then studied law at Harvard, and was admitted to the bar in 1843.[1]


He first settled in Cambridge and joined the Boston law firm of Benjamin Robbins Curtis.[1] There he became active in local institutions. Hubbard helped establish a city water works in Cambridge, was a founder of the Cambridge Gas Co. and later organized a Cambridge to Boston trolley system. Hubbard also played a pivotal role in the founding of Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was the first oral school for the deaf in the United States, and Hubbard remained a trustee for the rest of his life.

Hubbard entered the national stage by becoming a proponent for the nationalization of the telegraph system (then a monopoly of the Western Union Company, as he explained) under the U.S. Postal Service stating in an article: "The Proposed Changes in the Telegraphic System",[7] "It is not contended that the postal system is free from defects, but that it removes many of the grave evils of the present system, without the introduction of new ones; and that the balance of benefits greatly preponderates in favor of the cheap rates, increased facilities, limited and divided powers of the postal system." During the late 1860s, Hubbard lobbied Congress to pass the U.S. Postal Telegraph Bill known as the Hubbard Bill. The bill would have chartered the U.S. Postal Telegraph Company that would be connected to the U.S. Post Office, but the bill did not pass.

To benefit from the bill, Hubbard needed patents which dominated essential aspects of telegraph technology such as sending multiple messages simultaneously on a single telegraph wire. This was called the "harmonic telegraph" or acoustic telegraphy. To acquire such patents, Hubbard and his partner Thomas Sanders (whose son was deaf) financed Alexander Graham Bell's experiments and development of an acoustic telegraph, which led to his invention of the telephone.

Following Curtis's retirement, Hubbard relocated to Washington, D.C., where he continued to practice law for 5 more years. In 1876, he was appointed by President Grant to determine the proper rates for railway mail and he served as a commissioner to the Centennial Exposition.[1]

Bell Telephone Company

Hubbard organized the Bell Telephone Company on July 9, 1877, with himself as president, Thomas Sanders as treasurer and Bell as 'Chief Electrician'. Two days later, he became Bell's father-in-law when his daughter, Mabel Hubbard, married Bell. Gardiner Hubbard was intimately connected with the Bell Telephone Company,[8] which subsequently evolved into the National Bell Telephone Company and then the American Bell Telephone Company, merging with smaller telephone companies during its growth. The American Bell Telephone Company would, at the very end of 1899, evolve into AT&T, at times the world's largest telephone company. Hubbard has been credited as the entrepreneur who distributed the telephone to the world.

Edison Speaking Phonograph Company

Hubbard also became a principal investor in the Edison Speaking Phonograph Company. When Edison neglected development of the phonograph, which at its inception was barely functional, Hubbard helped his son-in-law, Alexander Graham Bell, organize a competing company in 1881 that developed wax-coated cardboard cylinders and disks for used on a graphophone. These improvements were invented by Alexander Bell's cousin Chester Bell, a chemist, and Charles Sumner Tainter, an optical instrument maker, at Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Hubbard and Chester Bell approached Edison about combining their interests, but Edison refused,[9] resulting in the Volta Laboratory Association merging the shares of their Volta Graphophone Company with the company that later evolved into Columbia Records in 1886.

Other projects

Hubbard was also interested in the public side of science. After his move to Washington, he was one of the founders and the first president of the National Geographic Society,[10] serving in that capacity from 1888 to 1897. Today, the Hubbard Medal is given for distinction in exploration, discovery, and research. In 1897, he also helped to rescue the A.A.A.S, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which was founded in 1848, from financial peril and extinction by enabling its purchase of the (then privately owned) "Science" magazine, which he also founded, in 1883.[11]

He served as a trustee of Columbian University from 1883 until his death. He was a regent of the Smithsonian Institution. He created a large collection of etchings and engravings, which were given by his widow to the Library of Congress with a fund for additions.[12] In 1894, Hubbard was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society[13]

Personal life

Hubbard and his wife, Gertrude, in the 1890s

In 1846, Hubbard married Gertrude Mercer McCurdy (1827–1909), the daughter of Robert Henry McCurdy, a prominent New York City businessman,[14] and Gertrude Mercer Lee, who was the niece of Theodore Frelinghuysen, a United States Senator and former vice presidential candidate.[15] Her brother, Richard Aldrich McCurdy, served as president of Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York.[15] Together, they had six children:[16]

Gardiner Hubbard's daughter Mabel became deaf at the age of five from scarlet fever.[18] She later became a student of Alexander Graham Bell, who taught deaf children, and they eventually married.[19]

Hubbard's house on Brattle Street in Cambridge (on whose lawn, in 1877, Hubbard's daughter Mabel married Alexander Graham Bell) no longer stands. But a large beech tree from its garden still (in 2011) remains. To service his then-modern Cambridge house, Hubbard wanted gas lights, the then-new form of illumination. So he founded the Cambridge Gas Company, now part of NSTAR. After he moved to Washington, D.C., from Cambridge in 1873, Hubbard subdivided his large Cambridge estate. On Hubbard Park Road and Mercer Circle (Mercer was his wife's maiden name), he built large houses designed for Harvard faculty. On nearby Foster Street, he built smaller houses, still with modern amenities, for "the better class of mechanic." This neighborhood west of Harvard Square in Cambridge is now both popular and expensive.[20][21]

He died on December 11, 1897, at Twin Oaks, his residence in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C..[1] His funeral was held at the Church of the Covenant in Washington, where he was president of the board of trustees.[22] His widow died in a car accident on October 20, 1909, in Washington.[23][24]


1947 photograph of Bell descendants with statue of Bell

Through his daughter Gertrude, he was the grandfather of Gertrude Hubbard Grossmann (1882–1919), who married Peter Stuyvesant Pillot (1870–1935),[25] at Hubbard's home, Twin Oaks, in 1903.[26] Their daughter, Rosalie Pillot (1907–1959) was married to Lewis Rutherfurd Stuyvesant (1903–1944),[27] the son of Rutherfurd Stuyvesant,[28] in 1925.[29] After giving birth to a son,[30][31] they divorced in 1935.[32]

Through his daughter Mabel, he was the grandfather of Elsie May Bell (1878–1964), who married Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor of National Geographic fame,[33][34] Marian Hubbard "Daisy" Bell (1880–1962), who was married to David Fairchild.[35][36][N 1] and two boys who died in infancy (Edward in 1881 and Robert in 1883).

Through his daughter Roberta, he was the grandfather of Grace Hubbard Bell (1883–1979), who was married to Granville Roland Fortescue (1875–1952), an American soldier and Rough Rider who was the cousin of Theodore Roosevelt and son of Robert Roosevelt (born while his biological father was married to his first wife but adopted by him following her death and his marriage to his mother).[39] Grace was the mother of three girls, Marion Fortescue, who married Daulton Gillespie Viskniskki in 1934, Thalia Fortescue Massie (1911–1963), and Kenyon Fortescue Reynolds (1914–1990), better known as actress Helene Whitney.[40]


Gardiner Hubbard's life is detailed in the book One Thousand Years of Hubbard History, by Edward Warren Day.[41] He was portrayed by a suitably bewhiskered Charles Coburn in the popular biopic The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939).

In 1890, Mount Hubbard on the Alaska-Yukon border was named in his honor by an expedition co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society while he was president. The Hubbard Glacier (Greenland) was named after him by Robert Peary.

The main school building at the Clarke School for the Deaf, Hubbard Hall, is named after him in his honor.

In 1899, a new school on Kenyon Street in Washington, D.C., was named the Hubbard School in his honor as one of the "most public-spirited men of the District, never neglecting an opportunity to advance its interests, but was also a man of great learning and earnestly interested in all educational movements. Mr. Hubbard was the president of the National Geographic Society, a man prominent in science and a man of the highest character."[42] The school has since been closed and demolished.

See also


  1. ^ Marian was born only days after Bell and his assistant Sumner Tainter had successfully tested their new wireless telecommunication invention at their Volta Laboratory, one which Bell would name as his greatest achievement. Bell was so ecstatic that he wanted to jointly name his new invention and his new daughter Photophone (Greek: "light–sound"),[37][38] Bell wrote: "Only think!—Two babies in one week! Mabel's baby was light enough at birth but mine was LIGHT ITSELF! Mabel's baby screamed inarticulately but mine spoke with distinct enunciation from the first." Bell's suggested scientific name for their new infant daughter did not go over well with Marian's mother, Mabel Gardiner Hubbard Bell.[37]
  1. ^ a b c d e f "DEATH LIST OF A DAY.; Gardiner G. Hubbard". The New York Times. 12 December 1897. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Mrs. A.G. Bell Dies. Inspired Telephone. Deaf Girl's Romance With Distinguished Inventor Was Due to Her Affliction", The New York Times, January 4, 1923. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
  3. ^ a b Science, American Association for the Advancement of (31 December 1897). "Gardiner Greene Hubbard". Science. 6 (157): 974–977. Bibcode:1897Sci.....6..974.. doi:10.1126/science.6.157.974. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 17755487. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  4. ^ Gardiner Greene Hubbard genealogy, website, retrieved September 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "C.E. HUBBARD DIES IN ANTWERP AT 86; Director of American Telephone and Telegraph Co. Succumbs From Pneumonia. HE WAS VISITING A SON Fatal Illness Followed Injuries in Auto Accident--Burial Will Be in Belgium". The New York Times. 26 August 1928. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  6. ^ National Geographic Magazine, February 1898.
  7. ^ "The Proposed Changes in the Telegraphic System", North American Review, July 1873, Vol. 117, No. 240, pp. 80–107.
  8. ^ "THE PEOPLE'S NEW CHAMPION". The New York Times. 22 March 1890. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  9. ^ Paul Israel, Edison, a Life of Invention, p. 282
  10. ^ "Birth of the Society". National Geographic. Archived from the original on October 4, 1999. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  11. ^ "150 Years of Advancing Science: A History of AAAS Origins: 1848-1899". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Gardiner Greene Hubbard Collection (Prints and Photographs Reading Room)". Library of Congress. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  13. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  14. ^ Ingham, John N. (1983). Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 896. ISBN 9780313213625.
  15. ^ a b Weeks, Lyman Horace (1898). Prominent Families of New York: Being an Account in Biographical Form of Individuals and Families Distinguished as Representatives of the Social, Professional and Civic Life of New York City. New York, New York: The Historical Company. p. 386. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  16. ^ The National Geographic Magazine. National Geographic Society. 1902. p. 175. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  17. ^ 1860 US Census
  18. ^ Shulman, Seth. 2008. The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., p. 63.
  19. ^ Beauchamp, Christopher (2015). Invented by Law: Alexander Graham Bell and the Patent That Changed America. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674368064. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Welcome! | Harvard University Archives | Harvard Library". Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Harvard Library". Harvard University Archives. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  22. ^ "G.G. HUBBARD'S FUNERAL; Washingtonian Who Had a Large Acquaintance Among Public Men". The New York Times. 13 December 1897. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  23. ^ Times, Special To The New York (21 October 1909). "MRS. G.G. HUBBARD KILLED.; Widow of First Bell Telephone President Thrown from Her Auto". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  24. ^ "MRS. HUBBARD LEFT $1,300,000; Will of Aged Washington Woman Killed In Auto Accident Is Filed". The New York Times. 5 November 1909. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  25. ^ "PETER S. PILLOT, 64, DIES IN HOSPITAL; Son of Captain of the Guard of Honor to Napoleon III and a Descendant of Stuyvesant. | GRADUATE OF ANNAPOLIS | Chairman of Parole Committee of House of Refuge -- Held Spanish War Commission". The New York Times. 18 April 1935. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  26. ^ Times, Special To The New York (7 May 1903). "WEDDINGS OF A DAY.; Pillot -- Grossman". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  27. ^ "LEWIS STUVYSANT DIES IN CLUB HERE; Sportsman, War. Veteran Was Consul in India -- Descendant of Peter Stuyvesant". The New York Times. 8 September 1944. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  28. ^ "R. STUYVESANT DIES SUDDENLY IN PARIS; Stricken on Street -- Though Born Rutherfurd, an Ancestor Was Gov. Peter Stuyvesant. HE WAS 69 YEARS OLD Ambassador White's Brother-in-Law -- First Wife Was Miss Pierrepont -- Second, Countess de Wassenaer, Survives Him". The New York Times. 5 July 1909. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  29. ^ "MISS ROSALIE PILLOT TO MARRY TODAY; Attendants for Her Wedding to Lewis Rutherfurd Stuyvesant". The New York Times. 4 April 1925. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  30. ^ "Son to Mrs. L. R. Stuyvesant". The New York Times. 18 December 1935. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  31. ^ "REMEMBRANCES OF A WAR'S END; A GOVERNOR'S DESCENDANTS". The New York Times. 13 August 1995. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  32. ^ "RENO DIVORCE GRANTED MRS. L.R. STUYVESANT; Mental Cruelty Is Reported as Grounds--Husband American Consul General of Calcutta". The New York Times. 7 August 1930. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  33. ^ "Dr. Gilbert H. Grosvenor Dies". The New York Times. Canadian Press. February 5, 1966. Retrieved September 18, 2015. Dr. Gilbert H. Grosvenor ... died on the Cape Breton Island estate once owned by his father-in-law, the inventor Alexander Graham Bell.
  34. ^ "Mrs. Gilbert Grosvenor Dead". The New York Times. December 27, 1964. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  35. ^ Grosvenor, Edwin S.; Wesson, Morgan (1997). Alexander Graham Bell: The Life and Times of the Man Who Invented the Telephone. New York: Harry N. Abrahms. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-8109-4005-5.
  36. ^ "Mrs. David Fairchild, 82, Dead; Daughter of Bell, Phone Inventor". The New York Times. Canadian Press. September 25, 1962.
  37. ^ a b Grosvenor & Wesson 1997, p. 104.
  38. ^ Carson, Mary Kay (2007). Alexander Graham Bell: Giving Voice To The World. Sterling Biographies. New York: Sterling Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-4027-3230-0. OCLC 182527281.
  39. ^ Spinzia, Raymond E. (Summer 2006). "Those Other Roosevelts: The Fortescues" (PDF). The Freeholder. Oyster Bay, NY, USA: Oyster Bay Historical Society. 11: 8–9, 16–22. OCLC 52571766. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  40. ^ Judith A. Spinzia; Raymond E. Spinzia (May 8, 2006). "Fortescue, Granville Roland (1875-1952)" (PDF). Long Island's Prominent Families: Their Estates and Their Country Homes. Vol. I. ISBN 978-1-58939-785-9.
  41. ^ Edward Warren Day. "One Thousand Years of Hubbard History", 1895.
  42. ^ "School Building Named" (PDF). The Evening Star. 21 August 1899. Retrieved 14 July 2016.

Further reading

Non-profit organization positions Preceded byfounding of the Society President of the National Geographic Society 1888-1897 Succeeded byAlexander Graham Bell