William P. Bancroft Family Papers
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 transcriptions and notes
Gift of Woodlawn Trustees, FHL Accession 2022.010
Original order by topic of the transcripts in Series 3 is retained.
A fan chart of the Clark family genealogy removed to PG 7, FHL reference.
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Author
- Susanna Morikawa
- Finding Aid Date
- December 2022
- 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/.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Concerning mostly Happy Grove School and Pendle Hill
Concerning mostly Happy Grove School and Pendle Hill
Mary Alice Chadwick; Will Chadwick; group photos of Chadwick and Bancroft families; John Bancroft and automobiles; Pauline Bancroft (married Will Chadwick);
Garthgannon, Somerset; House at Rockford, Delaware, which was demolished 1959. Two silhouettes, undated. Unidentified tintype
Includes a photocopy of 1982 letter from Roger Clark and a letter from Stephen Clark which reflected his father's interest in genealogy.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Includes biographical information about William P. Bancroft, founder of Woodlawn.
Includes a photocopy of his autobiography published in The Bancroft Bulletin
Plan prepared by Charles Leavitt
Typed excerpts of interest, 1909-1922
Concerning land purchases, Talley farm. Little Sisters of the Poor and miscellaneous letter and article in German (may be genealogical).
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
Bancroft's goals and objectives in the founding of Woodlawn.
Includes 1918 charter, updated charter, Stephen B. Clark's 1990 essay.
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.
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.
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.
By John Ward/ Includes the assinged doument number. Family concerns, etc.
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.
Lecture about Woodlawn presented by Lynn Williams at Crosslands, a retirement community in Kennet Square, Pennsylvania.
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.
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
A summary compiled by Stephen Clark for the Woodlawn Board.
Compiled by Stephen Clark for the Board of Woodlawn.
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.
Volumes are slightly larger than the earlier bindings and required a larger archival box.
Transcribed material and reference photocopies with folder level inventory. The folders are maintained in the order in which they were cataloged by John R. Ward (1958-1998), a 1983 graduate of Bowdoin College, an art history and history major, he was employed as the historical researcher for four years at the Woodlawn Trust until his sudden death at age 39.