George D. Bancroft
George D. Bancroft, 1896-1975.

Guide to the George D. Bancroft Papers, 1917-1919 and 1974-1975

MS 397

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: David D'Onofrio

December 2008

Descriptive Summary

The George D. Bancroft Papers were donated to the Special Collections & Archives Department by Dorothea D. Phillips and Roxanne Broadbent. Accession No. 01-13.
3.5 linear inches.
Access to the George D. Bancroft Papers is unrestricted.
The George D. Bancroft Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
George D. Bancroft Papers, MS 397
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

George D. Bancroft (no relation to Secretary of the Navy, George Bancroft) was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 10, 1896. After graduating from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy in May 1917, Bancroft enlisted in the Hospital Corps of the United States Navy. Assigned to U.S.S. Powhatan (Transport: SP–3013) as a Hospital Apprentice on August 16, 1917, Bancroft ultimately advanced to the rank of Chief Pharmacist's Mate, before being discharged on January 25, 1919.

Upon the conclusion of his naval service, Bancroft returned to Brooklyn where he operated a drug store from 1919 until 1935, when he and his family relocated to Bradford, [New York]. In Bradford, Bancroft became a partner in a business known as Gove & Bancroft. In 1956, Bancroft retired and moved, along with his family, to Goshen, New York.

George D. Bancroft died May 1, 1975. He was survived by his wife, Lillian E. Bowns Bancroft, a son, Paul, and daughter Dorothea.

Scope and Content Note

The George D. Bancroft Papers span Bancroft's brief U.S. Navy service, covering the years 1917 to 1919. The papers focus on Bancroft's three transatlantic cruises aboard the transport ship U.S.S. Powhatan as a Hospital Apprentice and Pharmacist's Mate.

Included in the collection are diaries, photograph albums, genealogical material, an obituary, a recommendation letter, and a compact disc.

The Bancroft Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single series with no subdivisions. The bulk of the collection consists of hand-written diaries and photograph albums from Bancroft's service aboard U.S.S. Powhatan. Throughout the diaries are references to the weather and sea conditions, liberties taken in Paris and Pauillac, France, complaints about the lack of mail and news from home, sea sick passengers, and various duties performed by Bancroft, including dispensation of medication, sterilization of equipment and quarters, report production, and watch duty. The diaries also refer to specific incidents, such as encounters with German U-Boats, injuries and illnesses among the crew and passengers, and damages sustained by the ship. The photograph albums, the contents of which are duplicated on a compact disc, consist mainly of images of Bancroft, the crew and passengers of the Powhatan, and of the French port town of Pauillac. The remainder of the collection consists of a 1919 letter of recommendation for Bancroft from Powhatan's senior medical officer, genealogical material on Bancroft's ancestors (compiled by Bancroft in 1974), and Bancroft's obituary from 1975.

The George D. Bancroft Papers, while offering few specifics pertaining to Bancroft's duties and opinions, reflect the general nature, and often tedium, of transport duty during the First World War.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 1 Diary, November 12 - December 31, 1917

Includes discussions of appendix surgery aboard ship (December 4-5), fatal explosion of ship's steering engine and subsequent funeral (December 17), and opinions on futility of wearing life preservers (November 24).

2 Diary, January 1 - March 5, 1918

Includes discussions of repair of the steering engine (February 1), drunkenness onboard (February 12 and 14) and anxiety over future orders (March 2).

3 Diary, March 21 - May 30, 1918

Includes discussions of African American troops onboard (March 21), shipboard tonsillitis epidemic (March 28), protocol upon entering the submarine/danger zone (March 31), contact with German U-Boats (April 4), and promotion exams (April 18-20).

4 Genealogical Material, October 1974
5 Letter of Recommendation, January 25, 1919
6 Obituary, May 1975
7 Photograph Album, ca. 1917-1918
8 Photograph Album, ca. 1917-1918
Box Folder
2 1 Photograph Album (Reproductions on Compact Disc), ca. 1917-1918