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George D. Bancroft Papers, 1917-1919, 1974-1975: Finding Aid

Published in December 2008

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 397
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: George D. Bancroft Papers
  • Dates: 1917-1919, 1974-1975
  • Size: 0.33 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 9 folders containing 9 items
  • Creator: Bancroft, George D., 1896-1975
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: The George D. Bancroft Papers, consisting mostly of diaries and photograph albums, 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.

Biography of George D. Bancroft

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.

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Description of Contents

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.

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The Bancroft Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single series with no subdivisions.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

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.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Box 2, Folder 1 Photograph Album is reproduced on compact disc and requires a computer for viewing.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Dorothea D. Phillips and Roxanne Broadbent in June 2001. Accession No. 01-13.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

George D. Bancroft's military personnel file may be available at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

George D. Bancroft Papers, MS 397

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in December 2008. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in December 2008.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Bancroft, George D., 1896-1975
  • Powhatan (Transport: SP3013)
  • United States. Navy -- Transport Service
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Atlantic Ocean
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Naval Operations, American
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Personal Narratives, American

Genre Terms

  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Diary, 1917 November 12-December 31

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).

Box 1 Folder 2

Diary, 1918 January 1-March 5

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

Box 1 Folder 3

Diary, 1918 March 21-May 30

Includes discussions of African American troops on board (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).

Box 1 Folder 4

Genealogical Material, 1974 October

Box 1 Folder 5

Letter of Recommendation, 1919 January 25

Box 1 Folder 6

Obituary, 1975 May

Box 1 Folder 7

Photograph Album, 1917-1918 (approximate)

Box 1 Folder 8

Photograph Album, 1917-1918 (approximate)

Box 2 Folder 1

Photograph Album (Reproductions on Compact Disc), 1917-1918 (approximate)

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