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Joseph Bancroft and Sons Company, Miss America collection

Creation: circa 1945-1967
Accession: 1972-430
View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.
View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.


Joseph Bancroft, an Englishman trained in textile weaving in Lancashire, established his own cotton mill on the Brandywine near Wilmington, Delaware in 1831. This operation became the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company in 1889, and in 1929 it absorbed the Eddystone Manufacturing Co. These images include plant exteriors and interiors, officials and employees, aerials, workers' housing, machinery, floods, and dams and races on Brandywine Creek as well as many Ban-Lon and Miss America fashion photographs. This collection includes approximately 1060 images covering a period from the late 19th century to the 1960s.


  • Creation: circa 1945-1967



9 Linear Feet

General Physical Description note

1,069 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller., 5 albums (131 photographic prints) ; 28 x 24 cm., 5 albums (100 photographic prints, 101 items) ; 51 x 41 cm. or smaller., 239 items, 29 items : programs, 25 items : paper dolls and 1 item : sample book ; 33 x 43.5 cm.

Historical Note

Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company manufactured, bleached, dyed, and finished a variety cotton-made goods. After World War I it added synthetics to its production, and these included rayon and nylon fabrics. The company was incorporated in 1889.

The companies namesake, Joseph Bancroft (1803-1874) began manufacturing cotton cloth at a small mill in Rockford, Delaware, just north of Wilmington, on March 25, 1831. The mill was built in order to take advantage of the Brandywine River's water power and Bancroft adopted the 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. In the late 1840s, Joseph Bancroft brought his two sons, William and Samuel, into the business assuring that the company would remain a family enterprise. During the Civil War, when the American market was largely closed to English imports, the Bancroft firm, like most other U.S. textile companies, prospered. After the war, the company developed a new bleaching process and began to concentrate on finishing cotton cloth.

In 1929, the Bancroft Company merged with the Eddystone Manufacturing Company. In the mid-1930s it began producing a line of rayon goods and a cotton finishing process that were marketed under the trade names of "Ban-Lon" and "Everglaze" respectively. The Banlon and Everglaze processes were widely licensed in Europe and America and by the early 1950s foreign royalties accounted for more than seventy per cent of the firm's total profits.

In an effort to promote Everglaze, Bancroft became a primary sponsor of the Miss America Pageant from the mid-1940s through the late 1960s. The company helped finance the pageant and provided money towards scholarships awarded to pageant winners. Bancroft was able to promote its products using the image of Miss America.

In 1961, the Bancroft Company became a division of Indian Head Mills, Inc., of New York City. The Rockford factory closed in 1981.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of general advertising and product information for "Ban-Lon" and "Everglaze" fashions. In particular, the collection documents the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company's sponsorship of the Miss America Pageant and the promotion of fabrics by Miss America from the years 1953 to 1967. A majority of the photographs show Miss America modeling her official "Everglaze" and "Ban-‚ÄčLon" wardrobe, although there are also fashion publicity photographs featuring other models, including those for men's and children's clothing. Other photographs include fashion shows featuring Miss America's "Everglaze" wardrobe and clothing created using McCall's patterns in fabrics by Everfast; displays of fashions and fabrics in department stores; and the use of "Everglaze" and "Ban-Lon" fabrics for household furnishings such as draperies, upholstery, and bedding. Many photographs and advertising materials document the "Miss America/Modern Bride/Ban-Lon Lace Dream Wedding" promotion, including wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and lingerie by makers such as Priscilla of Boston, Alfred Angelo, and Lily of France, particularly for the years 1960 and 1961. The collection also includes numerous fabric swatches, some in sample books, others attached to related photographs. Other miscellaneous items in the collection include paper dolls of various Miss Americas wearing their "Everglaze" ball gowns; Miss America pageant programs from the years 1945 to 1967; and numerous related advertising materials, including promotional kits, press releases, tear sheets, pamphlets, etc.

Existence and Location of Copies

View selected materials in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Related Material

Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company photographs (Accession 1969.025), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company records (Accession 0736), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

ALS : Brandywine, Del., to Robert Hurnard, Kelvedon, England, 1824 Sept. 19 (Accession 0524), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Bancroft family papers (Accession 0940, 1115, 1672), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Bancroft family business papers (Accession 1736, 1745), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Joseph Bancroft letterbook (Accession 1708), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Some of the Joseph Bancroft & Sons photographs from their Wilmington business were published in the "BAA Bulletin" of the Bancroft Athletic Assn. and in a brochure, "Joseph Bancroft & Sons" which was published in 1927. Both publications are found in the Published Collections Department, Hagley Library.

Language of Materials


Additional Description

Conservation Note

Miss America 1960 chooses Ban-Lon... conserved april 2004 paper lifted; surface cleaned; backing removed; tape removed; paper mended; humidified and flattened; mylar sleeve; tipped on, heat set foil applied with tacking iron, PVA; post binding payne

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Joseph Bancroft and Sons Company, Miss America collection
Laura Bees
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA