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Margaret Bancroft

Image of Margaret BancroftMargaret Bancroft (1854-1912) founded the Haddonfield Bancroft Training School for the multiply disabled.

Founded in 1883 under the original name “The Haddonfield School for the Mentally Deficient and Peculiarly Backward”, Bancroft’s institution hoped to develop innovative ways of teaching developmentally disabled children. Bancroft created a specialized program for the physical, mental, and spiritual growth of each particular student. She valued the importance of proper nutrition, personal hygiene, exercise, daily prayers, sensory and artistic development, and lessons suited to mental age. Students were also treated to different forms of recreation, which included trips to the circus, theaters, museums, and concerts. Renamed in 1904 the institution became known as the Bancroft Training School.

Bancroft also helped organize the women’s club the Haddon Fortnightly in 1894. She hoped that the women’s organization outside the home would promote the educational, literary, and social interests of its members. It is a testament to the longevity of Bancroft’s vision that the club is still active today. The Bancroft Training School now serves as a nonprofit institution with residential and daycare. Relocated to a campus called Owl’s Head, the school is now a year-round evaluation and treatment center.


A. Farrington, ed. Collected Papers of Margaret Bancroft: On Mental Subnormality and the Care and Training of Mentally Subnormal Children. Philadelphia: Ware Brothers Company, 1915.

Mote, Sister M. Krista. The Story of Margaret Bancroft: Teacher With a Dream. Haddonfield, NJ: Bancroft, 1998.

Margaret, Bancroft. 2019. Collected Papers of Margaret Bancroft On Mental Subnormality and the Care and Training of Mentally Subnormal Children. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1152336655  

Burstyn, Joan N. 1990. “Margaret Bancroft”. Past and Promise, Lives of New Jersey Women. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54486199

Questions to Explore

How did Margaret Bancroft’s specialized program help facilitate the success of the Bancroft Training School?

What programs and activities are used today to keep Margarets Bancroft’s vision active in the Bancroft training School today?

How does the Haddon Fortnightly women’s club help women?

Additional Resources

HADDONFIELD, N. J., MARGARET BANCROFT, and E. A. FARRINGTON. “MANUAL OF THE COURSE OF STUDY AT THE BANCROFT TRAINING SCHOOL FOR MENTALLY SUBNORMAL CHILDREN.” The American Journal of the Medical Sciences 138, no. 2 (1909): 282–. https://doi.org/10.1097/00000441-190908000-00024

Ernest Albert Farrington., Bancroft, Margaret. Collected Papers of Margaret Bancroft on Mental Subnormality and the Care and Training of Mentally Subnormal Children… – Primary Source Edition. United States: BiblioLife, 2013.