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Joseph Bancroft and Sons photograph collection
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Joseph Bancroft and Sons photograph collection

Accession 1969.025

Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
research@hagley.org

Finding aid prepared by Laura Bees, 2013

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-06-26T11:24-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Joseph Bancroft and Sons photograph collection (Accession 1969.025), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Joseph Bancroft and Sons photograph collection
Dates: 1888-1952
Accession Number: 1969.025
Creator: Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company.
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
Physical Description: 1 photographic print : b&w ; 20 x 100 cm.; 1 photographic print : b&w ; 66 x 82 cm.; 1 photographic print : b&w ; 60 x 50 cm.; 1 photographic print : b&w ; 59 x 46 cm. on 71 x 56 cm. board.; 7 photographic prints : b&w ; 16 x 20 or smaller.; 2 photographic prints : b&w ; 11 x 14 in.; 138 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in.; 153 photographic prints : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller.; 5 photographic prints on stereocards : stereographs ; 9 x 18 cm.; 3 photographic prints : cabinet photographs ; 17 x 11 cm.; 1 print : etching ; 3 x 6 in.; 1 print : postcard ; 10 x 15 cm.; 1 print : lithograph ; 51 x 80 cm.; 1 print : lithograph ; 43 x 75 cm.; 17 items : cartoons ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller.; 3 items : magazine covers ; approx. 8 x 10 in.; 24 items : labels ; 5 x 6 in. and smaller.; 1 item : fabric swatch ; 6 x 6 in.; 1 item : site plan ; 100 x 129 cm.; and 2 items : site plans ; 78 x 112 cm
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department
Abstract: Joseph Bancroft (1803-1874), an Englishman trained in textile weaving in Lancashire, established his own cotton mill on the Brandywine near Wilmington in 1831. The operation became the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company in 1889. The photographs consist of images related to the Joseph Bancroft & Sons textile mills in the Rockford and, later, Kentmere areas on the banks of the Brandywine River. These images include plant exteriors and interiors, officials and employees, aerials, workers' housing, machinery, floods, and dams and races on Brandywine Creek.
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Historical Note

Joseph Bancroft (1803-1874), an Englishman trained in textile weaving in Lancashire, established his own cotton mill on the Brandywine near Wilmington in 1831. The mill was built at the site of an earlier mill which took advantage of the Brandywine Creek's water power. Bancroft adopted traditional British spinning and weaving technology for use in his operation. The firm expanded steadily during the 1830s and 1840s as it began to produce cotton for both the Philadelphia and New York markets. The operation became the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company in 1889. The company became a subsidiary of Indian Head Mills, Inc. in 1961 and closed in 1981.

"From the start the Bancroft mills were engaged in manufacturing, bleaching, dyeing, and finishing cotton goods of every kind. It was the first firm in the United States to do mercerizing for the trade. After World War I it added synthetics to its production, and these included rayon and nylon fabrics." (John B. Riggs, A Guide to the Manuscripts in the Eleutherian Mills Historical Library [Greenville: Eleutherian Mills Historical Library, 1970], 705.)

In 1929, Joseph Bancroft & Sons absorbed the Eddystone Manufacturing Co., a company formed in 1835 which was run by the Simpson family throughout the 19th century. The Simpsons first started with a plant on the Schuylkill River, the Washington Print Works. Their cotton prints factory at Eddystone, Pennsylvania, was absorbed by Bancroft and became the Print Works Division. Bancroft also operated a cotton mill in Reading, Pennsylvania, which was purchased from Garner & Company in 1910.

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Scope and Content

The photographs consist of images related to the Joseph Bancroft & Sons textile mills in the Rockford and, later, Kentmere areas on the banks of the Brandywine River. These images include plant exteriors and interiors, officials and employees, aerials, workers' housing, machinery, floods, and dams and races on Brandywine Creek. One notable sketch of the property was done by Richard Rummel. Also included are two schematic plans documenting all the plant operations at Rockford and Kentmere (1961). Some views include the Brandywine Granite Company quarry which was on the opposite bank of the Brandywine. There is one mechanical drawing from Rice, Barton & Fales, Inc. of the ventilated dry tower of a textile printing machine. There are Wilmington plant site plans of the "Layout of Mill Supply & Fire Distribution Water Supply from Filters and Reservoirs" (1961) and "Property of Joseph Bancroft & Sons for proposed sale and leaseback" (1962).

Additional material consists of items related to the Eddystone, Pennsylvania, plant which Bancroft & Sons acquired by absorbing Eddystone Manufacturing Company. The factory was originally constructed in 1874. The following contents are included: photos of awards which the Eddystone Mfg. Co. received at several world's fairs; exterior and interior views of the Eddystone plant including a lithographic sketch of the plant by Frederich Falls (circa 1895); studio portraits of elderly employees who worked for Garner & Company in Reading before the Bancroft take-over; photographs and some originals (lithography by F. Morse, Philadelphia) of 19th century textile labels (from Wm. Simpson & Sons and other companies: Atlantic De Laine Co., Niagara Co., Thornton Print Works showing textile mills); original textile tags mounted on board from Washington Prints, Gloucester, N.J.) which were probably attached to bolts of cloth; textile tags from Gobelin Art Drapery [Co.] and a small fabric swatch; a small engraving labeled "Foxhill Bank Works Lancashire" [England] showing the exterior of a textile mill; some oversize materials relate to the Washington Print Works, the earlier Simpson plant on the Schuykill. There is an undated Hexamer insurance survey of the Schuykill plant.

The smallest portion of the collection contains images related to the Reading, Pennsylvania, cotton mill. This site, which originally was the Reading Cotton Mill, was owned by Garner & Company of New York from 1861 until it was absorbed by Bancroft. There are some views of the block long factory and studio portraits of elderly employees with long service with Garner & Company.

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Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Textile plants, 1853-1952
A. Kentmere and Rockford, DE, 1861-1931
1 1 Kentmere mill interiors, exteriors, plant survey, approximately 1861-1900; 7 b&w photographic prints in 5x7, 7.5x9.5, 8x10; some duplicates. Also 1 plant survey and duplicate
1 2 Rockford mill exteriors, plant survey, approximately 1904-1910; 15 b&w photographic prints in various sizes, including 3 stereographic prints, some mounted, some duplicates. Also 1 plant survey and duplicate
1 3 Rockford mill interiors, approximately 1900; 5 b&w 5x7 photographic prints, some duplicates
1 4 Other views of (probably) Rockford plant, 1926 August, 1927; 8 b&w photographic prints in various sizes, some mounted, some duplicates
1 5 Aerial views of Rockford and Kentmere, 1930 May 22, 1931 February 26; 11 b&w photographic prints in 8x10
1 7 Mill interiors 19th century, approximately 1890; 6 b&w photographic prints all mounted in various sizes, some duplicates
1 8 Floods and storm damage 19th century, 1916 April 12, approximately 1888; 9 b& w photographic prints in various sizes, some mounted, some duplicates
1 9 Floods 20th century, 1915 February 2, 1920 March 1-6; 13 b&w photographic prints in various sizes, some mounted, some duplicates; 4 b&w etchings in 4.5x6.5
B. Eddystone, PA, 1870-1937
3 1 Plant views, undated; 54 b&w photographic prints in various sizes 7x9 and smaller
3 2 Exterior plant views, 1931 April 13, 1941 August 20; 17 b&w photographic prints in 8x11 and smaller, some duplicates
3 3 Interior plant views, 1937; 26 b&w photographic prints in 8x10 and 8x11, some duplicates
3 4 Employees, approximately 1930; 25 b&w photographic prints in various sizes, including 7 mounted on 9x12 board
3 5 Awards, 1870, 1893, 1899, 1904; 4 b&w photographic prints; most 3.5x6.5 mounted on 8x11 board, some 5x7, some duplicates
3 6 Prints, approximately 1931; 11 b&w and color items, most 9x12, some duplicates
Drawer Folder
A35 2 Plant views, undated; 5 oversize photographic prints
C. Reading, PA, 1853-1910, 1931
3 7 Plant views, 1931; 32 b&w photographic prints; most in 8x10, some mounted, some duplicates. Also a letter describing some of the photographs
3 8 Veteran employees, 1853-1910; 4 b&w 3.5x5.5 photographs in 6x9 enclosures
Drawer Folder
A35 1 Plant views, undated; 2 oversize items, includes 1 of the Schukill plant
D. Wilmington, DE, 1888-1927
1 6 Mill interiors, approximately 1927; 18 b&w photgraphic prints in mostly 5x7 and 8x10, a few smaller, some duplicates
Box Folder
2 5 Workers' housing, approximately 1900; 20 b&w photographic prints in most 5x7, 6x9, some duplicates
Box Folder
4 1 Panoramas, 1888, 1922; 2 b&w photographic prints, mounted. 2 artists' prints in 4x7 and 8x10, several duplicates
Drawer Folder
A35 3 Plant views, 1911, undated; 2 oversize photographic prints
E. Textile machinery, 1937, 1951-1952
Box Folder
2 7 Rice, Barton & Fales, Inc. textile machines, 1937 August 27; 3 b&w photographic prints in 7.5x9.5, 1 8.5x11 blueprint and duplicate
2 2 Joseph Bancroft and Sons textile machinery, 1951-1952; 25 b&w photographic prints, most in 8x10, a few in 4x5, some duplicates
II. Bancroft and Simpson families and employees, 1817-1947
Box Folder
4 2 Joseph Bancroft, undated; 1 b&w photographic portrait, several duplicates in various sizes
Box Folder
4 3 Bancroft family, approximately 1873-1874, 1947; 5 b&w photographic prints in various sizes, some duplicates
Box Folder
4 4 Simpson family, approximately 1880-1910; 4 b&w photographic portraits, some duplicates, mostly in 4x5 and 7.5x9.5, 1 mounted on 7x9 board
Box Folder
4 5 Bancroft employees, 1891-1943; 18 b&w photographic prints; 12 group shots, most in 7x9 and 5x7, some mounted, some duplicates, 6 portraits; most in 4x5 and 4x6 and mounted on board, some duplicates
Box Folder
2 3 Joseph Bancroft's Wilmington, DE house, 1868-1890; 4 b&w photographic prints in 5x7 and 8x10, 1 mounted
Box Folder
2 4 Greenbank, Jacob Bright's Rochdale, England home, 1817-1824; 2 b&w 7x9 photographic prints mounted on 9x11 board. Jospeh Bancroft lived in this house during his 7 years apprenticeship to his uncle, Jacob Bright, in the cotton spinning business, before coming to America
Drawer Folder
A38 4 Bancroft employees and executives, 1948, undated; 2 oversize items
III. Scenery, approximately 1900-1910
Box Folder
2 1 Brandywine River dams and races, approximately 1900; 8 b&w photographic prints in mostly 6x8, some mounted, some duplicates
Box Folder
2 6 Chester, PA, Oswego, NY, and The Globe Line newspaper office, unidentified city, approximately 1910; 3 b&w photographic prints in 7x9 and 5x7, 1 mounted
IV. Photomechanical prints and drawings, 1874-1929
Box Folder
3 9 Labels and trademarks, 1874, 1876, 1908 September; 11 items; most 4.5x6 and smaller, some mounted on 6.5x9 board, some duplicates. Also 13 tags and a fabric swatch
Box Folder
2 8 Cartoons, 1929; 9 b&w items 4x4 and 8x10, 1 mounted. Also a note describing one of the cartoons