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William P. Bancroft Family Papers

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Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Woodlawn Trust, a land and community development company, was founded by Quaker William Poole Bancroft in the Brandywine Valley, Delaware. His father, Joseph Bancroft, established Bancroft Mills, cotton manufacturing mills, in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1865 William became a partner in the business. Around 1885, William Bancroft began to establish parks for the city of Wilmington, working with the landscape architect William Law Olmsted. In 1901 he founded the Woodlawn Company (later Woodlawn Trustees, Inc.), a foundation for community and residential planning. Bancroft hired landscape architect Charles Leavitt to plan the subdivisions.

William Poole Bancroft (1835-1928), son of Joseph and Sarah Poole Bancroft, married Emma Cooper (1848-1929) under care of Wilmington Monthly Meeting in 1876. William and Emma had four children, only two who survived to adulthood. Sarah Bancroft (1877-1973) was a graduate of Swarthmore College, Class of 1897. In 1900 she married Roger Clark (1871-1961) a member of C and J Clark, the global shoe manufacturing and retail company founded in 1825 in Somerset, England, by Quaker brothers Cyrus and James Clark. Sarah and Roger both were active in civic, educational, and Quaker concerns. Roger Clark served as Clerk of London Yearly Meeting and various Quaker meetings and committees. The younger daughter Lucy Bancroft (1880-1969) also attended Swarthmore College. In 1908 she married Henry Tregelles Gillett, a physician active in Quaker concerns.

Sarah Bancroft Clark and Lucy Bancroft Gillett were executors of their parents' estates and served long-distance as Trustees for the Woodlawn Trust. Sarah and Roger Clark had seven children. Their son Stephen Clark (1913-2011) was a graduate of Swarthmore College. From 1941-1975. he worked for the Clark company. He was became a trustee of the Woodlawn Trust in 1938, and after retirement, he served as president of the Woodlawn Trust, Wilmington, Delaware, 1976-1988.

Bancroft had injured his thumb in an early mill accident and could not hold a pen. Both his daughters lived in England and he determined to dictate of "journal" through letters copied in duplicate and bound like his business letter books. The letter books contain a rich mix of family references along with detailed business concerns.

The collection contains William P. Bancroft's letter books 1880-1928 and a small amount of Bancroft-Clark family correspondence and photographs. Also extensive transcribed material copied from William Bancroft's letter books and research on family members and individuals with detailed topical inventory.

Arranged in four series: Series 1: Bancroft-Clark Family Papers. Series 2: Woodlawn Trust Series 3: William P. Bancroft Letter Books Series 4: John Ward and Richenda Davison transcriptions and notes

Gift of Woodlawn Trustees, FHL Accession 2022.010

Original order by topic of the research files in Series 4 was retained.

A fan chart of the Clark family genealogy removed to PG 7, FHL reference. Framed photograph of Percy Bigland portrait of William C. Bancroft stored with collection, move to Art.

Publisher
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Susanna Morikawa
Finding Aid Date
May 2023
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/.

Collection Inventory

General

The daughters of William P. and Emma Bancroft, Sarah Bancroft Clarkand Lucy Bancroft Gillett, were executors of their parents' estates and served as long-distance Trustees. Sarah's son Stephen Clark (1913-2011) was named a Trustee in 1938. An executive in the C and J. Clark Ldt. until his retirement, he served as president of the Woodlawn Trustees from 1975- 19. In 1978 he transferred his membership in Mid-Somerset Meeting, England, to Wilmington Monthly Meeting.

Archival Resource Key. Transcribed excerpts from William Bancroft letter books, 1908-1921.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Excerpts from Bancroft's letters to his daughters Lucy and Sarah. They provide a rich mix of family references along with detailed business concerns. Of interest, a letter dated 5-29-1908 explained his intention of typing (dictated) a "journal" through his letters copied in duplicate for his daughters Sarah and Lucy who had moved to England. The letters were typed on standard-sized paper and bound into a volume like his business letter books. Bancroft had injured his thumb in an early mill accident and could not hold a pen. The 1908-1909 letters reference Bancroft's purchase of lands in the Wilmington area, particularly from Alfred duPont. He wrote about Swarthmore College, George School, Woodlawn, labor strife, and Quaker concerns. In a letter dated 8 mo 1, 1918, he wrote that he faced more debt than ever before in his life and was contemplating changing the Woodlawn Company from a stock company into an incorporation of Trustees.

Archival Resource Key. Sarah B. Clark correspondence, 1929-1958.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Sarah (1877-1973) was the eldest child of William and Emma Bancroft. In 1900, under the care of Wilmington Monthly Meeting, she married Roger Clark, president of the Clark shoe manufacturing company, and they lived in Somerset, England. The letters largely concern finances related to the Woodlawn Trustees and the Trust's property purchases, development and philanthropic efforts. She and her sister Lucy served as trustees and copied on board minutes. Includes correspondence with A. Stanley Ayers who was Secretary and Treasurer of the Trust; her son and fellow Trustee Stephen Clark; William Eves of the George School. In 1952 the Trust was trying to consolidate her parents' letter books (or journals) which Ayers remarked were stored by Sarah and Lucy when her mother's estate was settled in 1929. The letter books that were stored at Woodlawn were complete from 1880-1928.

Archival Resource Key. Lucy B Gillett correspondence.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Lucy (1880-1969) married Henry Tregelles Gillett in 1908, and they lived in Oxford, England. He was a physician and Quaker minister. The correspondence concerns primarily financial matters related to the Woodlawn Trustees with some family notes. The Gilletts visited Woodlawn several times. Of interest, Lucy Gillet donated funds toward the Wilmington Art Center. In several letters, she mentioned her concern that the Trust arrange low-income housing options which would have been in accord with her father's wishes. Also correspondence about access to her father's letter books for the George School; the books were borrowed for research in celebration of the School's 50th anniversary

Archival Resource Key. William C. Biddle correspondence, 1929-1934.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Biddle was Lucy and Sarah's cousin, resided in Lansdowne and served on the Board of Trustees. He sent the sisters updates on Board and other pertinent concerns. Early letters concerning Board of Directors of the Trust, strike at the Reading Mill in 1933, tension in leadership of the Board. He wrote about the sale of the Swarthmore Preparative School property in 1931.

Archival Resource Key. William C. Biddle correspondence, ca 1930-1937.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Concerning mostly Happy Grove School and Pendle Hill

Archival Resource Key. William C. Biddle correspondence, circa 1930-1937.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Concerning mostly Happy Grove School and Pendle Hill

Archival Resource Key. William C. Biddle correspondence, 1935-1941.
Box 1
Archival Resource Key. Chadwick and Bancroft Family photographs, ca. 1864-1944.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Mary Alice Chadwick; Will Chadwick; group photos of Chadwick and Bancroft families; John Bancroft and automobiles; Pauline Bancroft (married Will Chadwick);

Archival Resource Key. Photographs and images.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Garthgannon, Somerset; House at Rockford, Delaware, which was demolished 1959. Two silhouettes, undated. Unidentified tintype

Archival Resource Key. Invitations. calling cards, etc., addressed to Joseph Bancroft family, ca. 1835-1881.
Box 1
Archival Resource Key. Miscellaneous family invitations, writings, 1827-1840, 1982.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Includes a photocopy of 1982 letter from Roger Clark and a letter from Stephen Clark which reflected his father's interest in genealogy.

Archival Resource Key. Reproduction of Stephen Clark's 1927 Journal, 2003.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Copy of a log kept by Stephen Clark of his stay in America when he was thirteen years old. With footnotes added by Stephen Clark. CD enclosed. Spiral bound.

Archival Resource Key. Somerset Anthology by Roger Clark, 1975.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Photocopy of a published compilation of essays written by Sarah Bancroft Clark's husband, Roger Clark (1871-1961). He was a descendant of the founders of the Clark shoe manufacturing company and one of the owner/managers 1905-1935. It contains the history of C. and J. Clark, local and family history

Archival Resource Key. Bancroft Mills, by Harvey Bounds, 1961.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Spiral bound history of the Bancroft textile mills of Wilmington, 1831-1961. The author was long-time employee of Bancroft Mills. The company fell victim of textile mills moving to the South. It closed in 1961 and sold to Indian Head Mills in 1962.

Archival Resource Key. Clark genealogy and related notes collected by Stephen Clark, circa 1998.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Largely related to Clark family in England. Reference to the dispersion of family furniture. Descendants of Cyrus and James Clark genealogy fan chart printed for the 150th anniversary of C and J Clark removed to PG 7, Clark Family.

Archival Resource Key. Inventory of Bancroft papers at C and J Clark, Street, England, 1994.
Box 2
Archival Resource Key. Richenda C. "Chenda" Davison compiled research on the Poole Family.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

A descendant of William and Emma Bancroft, Richenda C. "Chenda" Davison proposed to research the beginnings of Woodlawn and write a history. She focused her research on the Poole family of Wilmington. Sarah Poole (1804-1896), daughter of William and Sarah Sharpless Poole, married Joseph Bancroft (parents of William Poole Bancroft). Her brother, John Morton Poole, engineer and mechanic, founded the J. Morton Poole Company which developed steel rolls used in the production of paper and cloth.

Scope and Contents

Includes biographical information about William P. Bancroft, founder of Woodlawn.

Archival Resource Key. William P. Bancroft biographical reference.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Includes a photocopy of his autobiography published in The Bancroft Bulletin

Archival Resource Key. Articles and papers about William P. Bancroft, 1922-1965.
Box 2
Archival Resource Key. Master plan for North Wilmington (photocopy), 1917.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Plan prepared by Charles Leavitt

Archival Resource Key. Photocopies of pages from Bancroft's Journal.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Typed excerpts of interest, 1909-1922

Archival Resource Key. E. C. Passmore correspondence, photocopies, ca. 1920s.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Concerning land purchases, Talley farm. Little Sisters of the Poor and miscellaneous letter and article in German (may be genealogical).

Archival Resource Key. Selections of 1880-1900 transcripts , ca. 1994-1995.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Selected by John Ward, a historian who was hired to researc and index the letter books. The selections mention prominent persons and places, such as Joseph Wharton, Olmsted, George School

Archival Resource Key. Statement of Objects, 1988, 1997.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Bancroft's goals and objectives in the founding of Woodlawn.

Archival Resource Key. Collected papers concerning Bancroft's purpose for development, 1979, updated 1997.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Includes 1918 charter, updated charter, Stephen B. Clark's 1990 essay.

Archival Resource Key. Research notes compiled by John Ward.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Research notes on family and possessions from various sources including a biography on Roger Clark, an excerpt from 1946 letter from Sarah B. Clark to her daughter Sarah, jr., with family reminiscences; inventory of Clark's Street residence; notes on family members from various sources.

Archival Resource Key. Agreement with John Ward and index of his files, circa 1996-2001.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

John R. Ward (1958-1998) was hired in 1996 to transcribe and annotate Bancroft papers, identifying topics of particular interest. He died suddenly in 1998 before the project was completed. His transcriptions of Bancroft letter books are organized by topic. In 2001, Richenda Davison created an index of his files which were stored in filing cabinets at Woodlawn.

Archival Resource Key. Notes on Alapocas Woods, 1995.
Box 3
Archival Resource Key. Correspondence and excerpts from Bancroft journal and letters retained at Street, England, 1995.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Concerning the effort by Stephen Clark and Richard Clark to piece together full list of journals and letters, some not copied for transcript project. Sarah, daughter of William Bancroft Clark (1902-1993), had reported that she had located a journal 1908-1922, which was identified as possibly Lucy Bancroft Gillett's copy.

Archival Resource Key. Handwritten excerpts of letters, 1909-1919 :.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

By John Ward/ Includes the assinged doument number. Family concerns, etc.

Archival Resource Key. Journal excerpts, 1908-1922, 1995.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Transcripts and description of the process used by John Ward. Specific books were not indexed or transcribed by him, per instructions from Lynn W. Williams, President Woodlawn Trustees.

Archival Resource Key. Lynn Williams: Lecture about Woodlawn, 1995.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Lecture about Woodlawn presented by Lynn Williams at Crosslands, a retirement community in Kennet Square, Pennsylvania.

Archival Resource Key. Bancroft letter books and the Historical Society of Delaware, 1994-1998.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Handwritten notes by Gene Castellane, 2021, concerning the letter books and Swarthmore College. He wrote that the letter books were photocopied in 1998, and digital scans were sold to the Historical Society of Delaware. Also in file, draft deeds of gift from Bancroft descendants, owners of the papers, to Woodlawn Trustees. While the letter books were stored at Woodlawn, the deeds of gift were never signed by senior Bancroft family members. This was confirmed by Benjamin Lovell in 2020 in conference with family members before assigning the gift to Swarthmore College in accord with the family's wishes. Also correspondence with the Historical Society regarding scans of the letter books and copies of John Ward's transcriptions. Letter from Stephen Clark in which he reported to the Executors of the Executors of Sarah Bancroft Clark estate that John Ward had transcribed and annotated letters in Vol 1-3. Clark requested permission from the Executors for a copy to be given to Delaware Historical Society without restriction. Never signed.

Archival Resource Key. Correspondence and excerpts from Bancroft journal and letters retained at Street, England, 1995.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Stephen Clark and Richard Clark worked to create a full list of journals and letters, some not copied for the transcript project. Sarah (1902-1993), daughter of William Bancroft Clark, had reported that she had located a journal 1908-1922, possibly Lucy Bancroft Gillett's copies

Archival Resource Key. Woodlawn and the Human Relations Commission, 1970-1972, 1992.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

A summary compiled by Stephen Clark for the Woodlawn Board.

Archival Resource Key. Woodlawn and Wilmington Monthly Meeting, 1962-1972 , 1992.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Compiled by Stephen Clark for the Board of Woodlawn.

Archival Resource Key. Richenda C. "Chenda" Davison research project, 2000.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

A descendant of William and Emma Bancroft, Chenda Davison proposed to research the beginnings of Woodlawn and write a history. She was hired to continue the referencing and cataloging of John Ward's research work and transcriptions. She maintained the topical order created by John Ward and added an index of the "journals/letter books" under broad categories such as Society of Friends, Schools, Trustees.

Existence and Location of Copies

The letterbooks were scanned by Woodlawn Trustees. Scans are available at the link.

Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1880-1895.
Box 4
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1895-1900.
Box 5
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1900-1903.
Box 6
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1903-1906.
Box 7
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1906-1909.
Box 8
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1909-1912.
Box 9
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1912-1914.
Box 10
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1914-1917.
Box 11
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1917-1920.
Box 12
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1920-1921.
Box 13
Archival Resource Key. Letter books, 1922-1928.
Box 14
Physical Description

Volumes are slightly larger than the earlier bindings and required a larger archival box.

General

Transcribed material and reference photocopies are organized by topic. The folders are maintained in the order in which they were cataloged by John R. Ward (1958-1998) who was employed as a historical researcher for four years at the Woodlawn Trust until his sudden death at age 39. He was a 1983 graduate of Bowdoin College, an art history and history major, and worked for various newspapers.

Richenda C. "Chenda" Davison was hired to continue referencing and cataloging John Ward's research work and transcriptions. In 2001, she created an index of the files which were stored in filing cabinets at Woodlawn until 2022 when the papers were boxed and given to Friends Historical Library.

Archival Resource Key. Digital files from Woodlawn Trustees.
Box 15
Scope and Contents

This folder contains one CD and one USB drive. The contents were transferred to cloud storage (see digital link), after which two identical copies of the CD were discarded.

    The digital files include:
  1. Scans of the William P. Bancroft letter books (series 3)
  2. Extracts from the the William P. Bancroft letter books, selected for for likely interest to Woodlawn Trustees
  3. Transcripts of selected family letters of likely interest to Woodlawn Trustees
  4. File Cabinet Index (an inventory of the John Ward research files file cabinets)
  5. Obituary of John Ward
  6. Scan of the Woodlawn Master Plan by Charles Leavitt, 1917
Archival Resource Key. Richenda C. Davison research project, Phase 1: Inventory of the files cabinets, 2001.
Box 15
Scope and Contents

Removed from binder. Also includes listing of the loose contents of John Ward's research papers. Davis copied extracts selected "of particular interest to Woodlawn Trustees."

Archival Resource Key. Richenda C. Davison, Phase 2: Review of letter books with extracts of interest, 2001-2002.
Box 15
Scope and Contents

Removed from binder and stored in three folders by volume number. Available online with link.

Scope and Contents

For a full list of all folder titles, including summaries of some folder contents, see "Richenda C. Davison research project, Phase 1: Inventory of the files cabinets, 2001." A paper copy is available in box 15 of this collection. A digital copy is also available.

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 1: Society of Friends and family members.
Box 16 (offsite box# FHL-1531)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 1, Drawer 1 (p.1 - p. 5).

Topics include: Society of Friends; WIlmington Monthly Meeting; Quaker schools; Locations; Emma C. Bancroft; Roger Clark; Stephen Clark; Henry Bancroft (grandson)

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 2: Family members.
Box 17 (offsite box# FHL-1532)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 1, Drawer 1 (p. 5 - p. 7) and Filing Cabinet 1, Drawer 2 (p. 1 - p. 3).

Topics include: Pauline Bancroft (Chadwick); Cooper; Sarah Poole Bancroft; Joseph Bancroft; Harrison; William & Sue (Gilpin) Poole; William & Louise (Holler) Poole; Dr. Henry Tregelles Gillett children; Emilie (Gibbons) & Alfred Cohen; Samuel S. & Mira (Temple) Poole

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 3: Family members.
Box 18 (offsite box# FHL-1533)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 1, Drawer 2 (p. 3 - p. 4) and Filing Cabinet 1, Drawer 3 (p. 1 - p. 7).

Topics include: Alexandra & Edith (Bringhurst) Sellers; Charles & Mary (Richardson) Warner; Benjamin & Fanny (Canby) Ferris; Ann (Cooper) & Joseph Tatum; Joseph & Elizabeth (Roberts) Canby; Sarah (Shipley) & Edward Bringhurst; John & Ann (Burgess) Shipley; William & Mary (Tatnall) Shipley; Mary (Canby) & Clement Biddle; Anna (Canby) & David (Smyth); Lea; William & Ann Tatnall Canby (granddaughter of Joseph Tatnall); Edward Tatnall (son of Joseph Tatnall); Esther (Tatnall) & William Warner; Elizabeth (Richardson) & Samuel Stroud; Joseph & Ann (Spackman) Richardson; Samuel & Susanna (Robinson) Richardson); Mendenhall; Garrett

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 4: Estate and business.
Box 19 (offsite box# FHL-1534)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 1, Drawer 4 (p. 1 - p. 7) and Filing Cabinet 2, Drawer 1 (p. 1 - p. 2).

Topics include: William P. Bancroft estate; Woodlawn Trust; business & investments; Firms: A-H

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 5: Business and people (friends).
Box 20 (offsite box# FHL-1535)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 2, Drawer 1 (p. 3 - p. 8) and Filing Cabinet 2, Drawer 2 (p. 1).

Topics include: Firms: H-W; Labor; Property; Rockford Reading Room; People (friends, etc.): A-I

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 6: People (friends) and family members.
Box 21 (offsite box# FHL-1536)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 2, Drawer 2 (p. 1 - p. 7) and Filing Cabinet 2, Drawer 3 (p. 1).

Topics include: People (friends, etc.): J-Z; Samuel & Sarah (Taylor) Middleton; Sarah T.R. (Middleton) Rogers & Albert Eavenson

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 7: Family members.
Box 22 (offsite box# FHL-1537)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 2, Drawer 3 (p. 1 - p. 5) and Filing Cabinet 2, Drawer 4 (p. ).

Topics include: William & Elizabeth (Roberts) Cooper; John & Mary (Kaighn) Cooper; Margaret (Bancroft) & Benjamin Swayne; Napoleon & Isabella (Marcel) Bancroft; Samuel Bancroft; Jane (Bancroft) & Robert Caldwell; Esther "Hettie" Albertson; J. Sellers Bancroft family; Margaret Bancroft; James R. Bancroft; Alfred & Isabella (Leathum) Mellor; George & Sarah (Savery) Mellor; Esther (Lawton) & Caleb Coffin; locations

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 8: Family members.
Box 23 (offsite box# FHL-1538)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 2, Drawer 4 (p. 1) and Filing Cabinet 3, Drawer 1 (p. 1 - p. 4).

Topics include: Rebecca Bancroft; Margaret Bancroft; David & Mary (Bradbury) Bancroft; Sarah (Bancroft) & John Earnshaw; John & Sarah (Burgess) Bancroft; John & Margaret (King) Wood; Joseph & Rebecca (Levis) Wood; John Wood; Samuel & Margert Wood; Priscilla (Bright) & Duncan Mclaren; Margaret (Bright) & Samuel Lucas; John A. & Edith Bright; John Bancroft Sr. branch; Shipley; Poole; Clement M. Biddle, Jr.; Middleton; Sarah Bancroft Clark & Roger Clark; Bancroft Clark; Gillett; Bancroft Woodcock

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 9: Properties and family members.
Box 24 (offsite box# FHL-1539)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 3, Drawer 1 (p. 4 - p. 5) and Filing Cabinet 3, Drawer 2 (p. 1 - p. 2).

Topics include: Stephen Bancroft Jr. properties (not at Rockford); William P. Bancroft & Emma Cooper Bancroft house; Bancroft Woodcock; William Poole; Stephen Clark; Woodlawn Archives

Archival Resource Key. Research files part 10: Charities and personal characteristics.
Box 25 (offsite box# FHL-1540)
Scope and Contents

For a full listing, see inventory for: Filing Cabinet 3, Drawer 3 (p. 1 - p. 4).

Topics include: Delaware Hospital; higher education; reading; character; public affairs; behavior; self-education; maternal; paternal; exterior; household business; health; events

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