Margaret Bancroft – Founded School for the Disabled


Margaret Bancroft (1854-1912)

Jersey gem: Resided in Haddonfield

Margaret Bancroft founded the Haddonfield Bancroft Training School for the multiply disabled. Under its original name, The Haddonfield School for the Mentally Deficient and Peculiarly Backward, the institution was founded in 1883 as a way for Bancroft and fellow educators to develop innovate ways of teaching developmentally disabled children.

Bancroft created a specialized program for the physical, mental and spiritual growth of each particular student. The founder 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. It was renamed the Bancroft Training School in 1904.

Bancroft remained active in other spheres of her life as well. For instance, she and several friends organized the Haddon Fortnightly in 1894 with the idea that the women’s club 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. In addition, her legacy lives on through the Bancroft Training School which now serves as a nonprofit institution with residential and day care. Relocated to a campus called Owl’s Head, the school is now a year-round evaluation and treatment center.

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