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Identifier: WH1089


The Caroline Bancroft Family Papers comprise correspondence, business and personal papers, memorabilia, photographs and family history from five generations of the Bancroft and Jarvis families. Caroline Bancroft was clearly the keeper of these family papers, and she sometimes annotated the records for the benefit of future researchers.

While the collection primarily documents the lives of many members of the Jarvis and Bancroft families, it also contains historical research and correspondence from a cadre of prominent twentieth-century Colorado citizens and authors.

The bulk of the collection contains Caroline Bancroft’s writing, drafts and business correspondence concerning her career as a writer of Colorado history, and her personal correspondence. A sampling of Bancroft’s personal financial records was retained. Caroline Bancroft was not the only member of her family who enjoyed writing. Her father, George Jarvis Bancroft, and her grandfather, Frederick Jones Bancroft, recorded their recollections in memoirs or short stories, which are included in the collection.

The scrapbooks and photograph albums in the collection offer views of comparatively rare subjects such as mining in Mexico, the Lambert Dairy farm southwest of Denver, and the Bancroft’s summer residence east of Evergreen, Colorado.

A selection of papers from both the Ethel Norton Bancroft and Peggy Bancroft LeBaron subseries were removed from their respective scrapbooks, making the items’ original order difficult to determine.

SERIES 1 BANCROFT FAMILY 1765, 1851-1986 BOX 1-5

The series is organized chronologically. A small collection of papers of John Bancroft, Mary McLean Jarvis, and Charles Augustus Jarvis, and papers of genealogical significance to the Bancroft and Jarvis families begin the series.

A sub-series contains Mary Caroline Jarvis Bancroft’s personal correspondence and papers showing her social and civic involvement in Denver. Correspondence with her husband, Frederick Jones Bancroft, comprises a sub-series. Frederick Jones Bancroft’s personal correspondence, memoirs, business correspondence and clippings highlight his accomplishments in the medical profession as well as in his business interests in Colorado. Also included is research conducted by Caroline Bancroft in the 1950s when she considered writing a biography of her grandfather, Frederick Jones Bancroft.

A small number of Mary McLean Bancroft's papers and Frederick Wolcott Bancroft’s correspondence, including letters written from his WWI service in France, are in the series.

George Jarvis Bancroft’s professional engineering papers, memoirs, personal and biographical papers, and his wife Ethel Force Norton’s personal papers and correspondence contribute to the series.

Peggy Bancroft LeBaron’s personal papers include some clippings and memorabilia from her years as a performer. Also included are correspondence and invitations highlighting the LeBaron’s influential and international social circle in Washington D.C. Some of Robert LeBaron’s personal and professional papers, including speech transcripts, are housed in the collection, though the bulk of his papers are at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University.


The series comprises Caroline Bancroft’s writing and personal papers. It is organized primarily in chronological order, and shows how Caroline Bancroft developed her writing from childhood to her adult career as an essayist, journalist and writer of history booklets. The series includes fictional pieces she wrote as a child and a young woman, as well as drafts of articles and book chapters, lectures, book reviews and plays, published and unpublished. The series contains multiple editions of her published history booklets, most of which are marked with Bancroft’s marginalia. Her business correspondence with publishers, galley proofs, and sales records are included. A large portion of the series comprises the research files, by subject, Bancroft maintained to support her writing. Her professional correspondence is organized in a sub-series alphabetically by author, and illustrates the way Bancroft’s social and professional life intersected fluidly in her life. The professional correspondence sub-series contains interesting correspondence from writers and friends of varying notoriety from around the world.

Evidence of her civic involvement, and travel experiences are included, as are Bancroft’s annual Christmas round-robin letters, and a few books from her library with personal inscriptions. A sampling of Caroline Bancroft’s personal financial and investment records were retained in this series.

Caroline Bancroft’s personal papers provide detailed biographical information and original correspondence that spans practically her entire lifetime, including some posthumous correspondence and papers. She was careful to collect publicity about herself and her friends. Caroline Bancroft was a meticulous record keeper, both of her own belongings and those of her family.

SERIES 3 OVERSIZE 1861-1970 OVBOX 1-8, OVfolio1

The series contains personal items and scrapbooks belonging to many Bancroft family members. Frederick Jones Bancroft’s scrapbook contains original correspondence and orders documenting his early professional career as a surgeon in the Union Army. Clippings and correspondence trace his move to Denver, Colorado and his civic involvement in the young city. George Jarvis Bancroft’s scrapbook chronicles his college life at Leland Stanford Junior University and his early professional career as a mining engineer. Ethel Force Norton’s scrapbook contains clippings and personal correspondence about her family in Troy, New York, and the death of her father. Correspondence and mementos from her two daughters and a wedding scrapbook provide a glimpse into marriage and motherhood in Denver in the early 20th century. Caroline Bancroft’s scrapbooks offer detailed biographical information about her high school and college life as well as publicity she received during her career as a writer. A few mementos belonging to Peggy and Robert LeBaron are included.


The series contains reel to reel and cassette tapes of Caroline Bancroft giving interviews on topics related to personalities and events in Denver and Colorado history. Some interviews provide biographical details of Caroline Bancroft’s life and the experiences of Bancroft family members.


The series contains loose photographs and family albums that document the Bancroft, Jarvis and Norton families. Images depict Caroline and Peggy's childhood through adulthood, Peggy’s publicity photos for her acting career, their travels throughout the world, and their busy social lives. Original photographs and copy prints used in Caroline Bancroft's booklets are arranged by subject or publication title. Notable photograph albums include F. J. Bancroft’s family albums which consist of mostly albumen portrait photographs from the 1850s, many identified, and an album with scenes from the Bancroft-owned Lambert Dairy. George Jarvis Bancroft’s album of mine operations in Mexico, Western U.S. States and Canada depicts unique images of mining scenes in collodion prints.


  • TBD


The collection is open for research.


Literary and copyrights have been assigned to the Denver Public Library except for those rights designated in a 1967 contract between Caroline Bancroft and Johnson Publishing Company.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


The name Bancroft is well known in Colorado for the three generations of the family who lived in and around Denver for over a century. Dr. Frederick Jones Bancroft (1834-1903), a surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War, came to Denver in 1866 where he met his wife, Mary Caroline Jarvis (1840-1899). Dr. Bancroft founded the Colorado Historical Society and the Denver Medical Society. He served on Denver’s Board of Education, and owned Lambert’s Dairy on a homestead tract southwest of Denver. Mount Bancroft in Clear Creek County, is named in his honor. The Bancrofts had four children: Mary McLean (1872-1949), George Jarvis (1873-1945), Anna Chloe (1875-1878), and Frederick Wolcott (1880-1963). The Bancroft family kept a summer residence near Evergreen, Colorado. Mary Caroline Jarvis Bancroft's father, George Atwater Jarvis (1806-1893) of New York City, N.Y. was responsible for endowing Jarvis Hall, a liberal arts, grammar and military school in Golden, Colorado in 1869.

George Jarvis Bancroft graduated from Leland Stanford Junior University in 1892 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He worked as a mining engineer, traveling in Mexico, Canada and Australia, and was later a Superintending Engineer for W.S. Stratton’s mine operations around Cripple Creek, Colorado. George Bancroft worked on water diversion projects including the Moffat Tunnel and the Loch Lomond reservoir system in Clear Creek County. In 1899, George Bancroft married Ethel Force Norton (1878-1959) of Troy, New York. They had two daughters, Caroline (1900-1985) and Ethel (Peggy) (1905-1986). The couple divorced in 1923. Ethel Norton Bancroft completed her B.A. and M.A. degrees at the University of Denver in 1931 and 1934, respectively. She worked as a social worker and for the remainder of her life, she also traveled and lived with her daughter, Caroline.

Caroline Bancroft was born in Denver on September 11, 1900. At a young age, she showed an affinity for short story and fiction writing. She submitted (unsuccessfully) her first manuscript to St. Nicholas magazine at age 11. After graduating from North Side High School in Denver and Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, she taught dance at a private school in New Canaan, Connecticut and traveled in Europe. She then returned to Denver where she began writing for The Denver Post, then considered a sensationalist and disreputable newspaper. In 1937, Caroline Bancroft wrote a melodramatic rendition of Baby Doe Tabor’s life for True Story magazine. She spent the next three decades writing more than 20 books and booklets on Colorado history, whose subjects included Margaret “Molly” Brown, Elizabeth McCourt “Baby Doe” Tabor, and histories of Central City and Glenwood Springs.

Though Caroline Bancroft lived for most of her life at 1081 Downing Street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, she was acquainted with and wrote to a number of well-known writers whom she met on her travels in Europe, New York, Taos and Santa Fe during the 1930s. Her correspondence includes letters received from a number of notable writers such as Mari Sandoz, Charles Edmund Carrington, Mary Coyle Chase, Robert Frost and Padriac Colomb; critics and agents; and socialites such as Hedda Hopper and Helen Bonfils.

Caroline Bancroft was also active with many civic organizations. She had a particular interest in folklore, and served as president of the Colorado Folklore Society and helped to organize the annual Western Folklore Conference at the University of Denver. Bancroft was a charter member of Gilpin County Arts Association (later the Central City Arts Association). Fond of Central City, she also was involved with the Central City Opera House Association. She owned a vacation home there in the late 1940s, and she often led walking tours, with megaphone in hand, for tourists visiting the former mining town.

Caroline Bancroft had a reputation for being helpful to aspiring writers. She enjoyed sharing her research and her opinions, and began donating her papers and photographs generously to the Denver Public Library’s Western History Department decades before her death. Bancroft was an unconventional woman for her time. She never married and was passionate about her identity as a writer. Even though her research had a reputation for being “scanty” and colleagues did not always agree with her, on the subject of Western history and particularly Colorado history, she considered herself an authority. As a reviewer of other’s work, Bancroft could be cutting. Fellow author, Sandra Dallas aptly described Caroline Bancroft in her eulogy in The Denver Post on October 20, 1985: “she was a vibrant, opinionated woman who when stirred showed the wrath of an angry god…Caroline’s scrutiny and caustic tongue made her many enemies...[s]he relished her feuds.” Caroline Bancroft had both a number of devoted friends as well as devout critics. In later years, she suffered from several bouts with cancer and spent the winter months in Maui. Bancroft moved to the Waldman Condominiums in Denver in 1979 where she lived until her death in 1985.

Caroline’s sister Ethel (Peggy) Bancroft was born in 1905. In the early 1920s, Peggy left Denver and became a successful singer and dancer in New York City, performing featured roles in some of the important Broadway shows during the 1920s and 1930s. Peggy Bancroft later married Robert LeBaron, a government and financial consultant, and Deputy Secretary of Defense during the Truman administration. Robert LeBaron held a doctorate degree in radiochemistry. The LeBarons made their home in Washington D.C. Robert LeBaron died in 1983 and Peggy died in 1986.

Caroline Bancroft donated not only her own papers to the Library, but other collections of historically significant papers and photographs. Her bequest to the library endows the Caroline Bancroft History Prize, awarded annually by the Western History/Genealogy Department staff to the author of the best book on Colorado or Western American History published during the current year.

Books and booklets by Caroline Bancroft:

Baby Doe Tabor (1937) Bancroft

A Guide to Central City, Colorado, and Its Surrounding District (1946) World Press, Inc.

Silver Queen, the Fabulous Story of Baby Doe Tabor (1950) Golden Press

Historic Central City, Its Complete Story as Guide and Souvenir (1951) Golden Press

Famous Aspen, Its Complete Story as Guide and Souvenir (1951) Aspen Times

Silver Queen, the Fabulous Story of Baby Doe Tabor (1952) Golden Press

Mile High Denver, Its Complete Story as Guide and Souvenir (1952) Golden Press

The Melodrama of Wolhurst, Celebrated Colorado Show Place (1952) Golden Press

Photo Story of the Matchless Mine and Baby Doe Tabor (1952) Golden Press

Famous Aspen, Its Fabulous Past, Its Lively Present (1954) Golden Press

The Brown Palace in Denver, Hotel of Plush, Power and Presidents (1955) Golden Press

Augusta Tabor, Her Side of the Scandal (1955) Golden Press

The Unsinkable Mrs. Brown (1956) Golden Press

Gulch of Gold, a History of Central City, Colorado (1958) Johnson Pub. Co.

Glenwood's Early Glamor (1955) Johnson, Pub. Co.

Colorful Colorado, Its Dramatic History (1959) Johnson, Pub. Co.

Denver's Lively Past, from a Wild and Woolly Camp to Queen City of the Plains (1959) Johnson, Pub. Co.

Tabor's Matchless Mine and Lusty Leadville (1960) Johnson, Pub. Co.

Colorado's Lost Gold Mines and Buried Treasure (1961) Johnson, Pub. Co.

Unique Ghost Towns and Mountain Spots (1961) Johnson, Pub. Co.

Six Racy Madams of Colorado (1965) Johnson, Pub. Co.

Two Burros of Fairplay, Morsels of History for Young and Old (1968) Johnson, Pub. Co.

Trail Ridge Country, the Romantic History of Estes Park and Grand Lake (1968) Johnson, Pub. Co.


20 Boxes

Language of Materials



The Caroline Bancroft Family Papers were given to the Denver Public Library by Caroline Bancroft over the course of many years, with the remainder bequeathed to the Western History Department of the Denver Public Library by her estate when Bancroft died in 1985. A small portion of the collection was given to the Library upon Peggy Bancroft LeBaron's death in 1986.


The Jarvis family; or, The descendants of the first settlers of the name in Massachusetts and Long Island, and those who have more recently settled in other parts of the United States and British America. Collected and compiled by George A. Jarvis... George Murray Jarvis... William Jarvis Wetmore... assisted by Alfred Harding (1879)

G929.2 J297ja Memoir of the Rt. Rev. George M. Randall, D.D., Missionary Bishop of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana; also memorandums and deeds of Jarvis Hall and Jarvis Hall Endowment Fund (1887)

C377.4 J297ja

Physical Description


Physical Description


Physical Description


Physical Description



Number of Boxes: 20

Oversize: 8

OVFolio: 1

Audio/Visual Boxes: 2

Photo Boxes: 12




Abby Hoverstock and Martin Leuthauser

October 2008

Photo series processed by Susan Echelmeier, 2007


Ellen Zazzarino

March 2009
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Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States