Bancroft, Mary, 1903-1997

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Mary Bancroft, author and intelligence officer for the Office of Strategic Services, was born in Cambridge, Mass., in 1903, the daughter of Mary Agnes Cogan and of Hugh Bancroft, later publisher of The Wall Street Journal . Her mother had studied at Radcliffe College and died shortly after Mary's birth. MB graduated from The Winsor School, in Boston in 1921, and attended Smith College for three months in 1922. She married Sherwin Badger, Harvard College Class of 1923, and figure skating champion of the U.S.A. After graduating, he took a position with the United Fruit Company and they spent a year in Cuba. They had three children: a son George who died in infancy, Sherwin, Jr., and Mary Jane. They were divorced in 1932.

In 1935 MB married Jean Rufenacht, a Swiss businessman, and later in the 30s moved to Zurich, where she was analyzed by and studied with C.G. Jung. This was a formative experience and psychology became a life-long interest. She was proficient in French and German and was hired to work for Allen Dulles in the Office of Strategic Services. For a time MB and Dulles were lovers. As an agent, she analyzed speeches and writings of Nazi leaders, wrote reports on conversations with German contacts, and was assigned to help translate a book written by Hans Bernd Gisevius, one of the July 20th (1944) plotters against Hitler. She had frequent conversations with Gisevius and tried to elicit information from him to pass along to Allen Dulles, but he was in direct contact with Dulles and MB had no role in the plot. MB divorced Jean Rufenacht in 1947 and returned permanently to the United States in 1953.

MB was a translator, author, and prolific letter writer (her correspondents included Henry R. Luce and Norman Mailer, among others). After her divorce, being in need of income, she worked as a freelance journalist, writing articles for the Swiss weekly, Die Weltwoche, and translating filmscripts and film documentaries. On her return from Europe she lectured professionallly on international topics under the auspices of the Columbia Lecture Bureau. She published two novels, Upside Down in the Magnolia Tree (1952), and The Inseparables (1958) and drafted many more. Her translations appeared in Atlas: The Magazine of the World Press, 1962-64, and articles and book reviews, in Manhattan East in the 1960s. Her memoir, Autobiography of a Spy, was published in 1983.

After settling in New York City, MB threw herself into local politics as a means of reconnecting to the United States after so many expatriate years. She worked for her friend Anthony J. Akers in his two unsuccessful campaigns to represent the 17th Congressional District. She ran in the Democratic primary for the 8th Assembly District in 1960 and as a delegate for the 1964 Democratic National Convention, both unsuccessfully. She was a member of the James F. Farley Democratic Club, the Lexington Democratic Club, and until she became disenchanted with New York "reform" politics, the Lenox Hill Club. She kept up her interest in psychology through correspondence and membership in the Analytical Psychology Club of New York City and the C.G. Jung Foundation. She served on the editorial board of Psychological Perspectives, and was a consultant and book reviewer for it.

MB died on January 10, 1997.

From the guide to the Papers, 1872, 1932-1997, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Papers, 1872, 1932-1997 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
referencedIn Eastman, Max Forrester, 1883-1969. Eastman mss. 1892-1968 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Color Association in Folk Custom of Oregon and California, 1973 Randall V. Mills Archives of Northwest Folklore
referencedIn Howe, M. A. De Wolfe (Mark Antony De Wolfe), 1864-1960. Additional papers, 1880-1959 Houghton Library
referencedIn Papers, 1872-1975 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Ruth Fischer papers, 1925-1961 (inclusive) 1940-1961 (bulk) Houghton Library
referencedIn Howe, Mark De Wolfe. Mark De Wolfe Howe papers. 1933-1967. Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn George Bancroft papers, 1811-1901. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Akers, Anthony J. person
correspondedWith Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.) corporateBody
associatedWith Allen, Woody person
associatedWith Analytical Psychology Club of New York, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Anthony Akers's person
associatedWith Authors' League of America corporateBody
associatedWith Badger family family
spouseOf Badger, Sherwin. person
childOf Barron, Clarence W. (Clarence Walker), 1855-1928 person
correspondedWith Bob Jungk . person
associatedWith Boswell, Haden person
associatedWith Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925- person
associatedWith Campbell, Persia Crawford, 1898-1974 person
associatedWith Casey, William J. person
associatedWith Cavett, Dick person
associatedWith C.G Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology corporateBody
correspondedWith Charles Lieber. person
correspondedWith Chisholm, Shirley, 1924-2005 person
correspondedWith Columbia University corporateBody
associatedWith Democratic Party (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Didion, Joan person
associatedWith Dulles, Allen Welsh, 1893-1969 person
associatedWith Eastman, Max, 1883-1969 person
associatedWith Eastman, Max, 1883-1969 person
associatedWith Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 person
associatedWith Farley, James J. person
correspondedWith Fischer, Ruth, 1895- person
correspondedWith Fischer, Ruth, 1895- person
associatedWith Flanner, Janet, 1892- person
associatedWith Galbraith, John Kenneth, 1908- person
associatedWith George, Bancroft 1800-1891. person
associatedWith Gisevius, Hans Bernd, 1904- person
associatedWith Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris), 1909- person
associatedWith Gore, Albert, 1907- person
associatedWith Helen Howe, 1905-1975 person
associatedWith Higgins, George V. person
associatedWith Hope, Bob, 1903- person
associatedWith Howe, Helen, 1905-1975 person
correspondedWith Howe, M. A. De Wolfe (Mark Antony De Wolfe), 1864-1960 person
correspondedWith Howe, Mark De Wolfe, 1906-1967 person
correspondedWith James Farley Club corporateBody
correspondedWith James J. Leff person
associatedWith Jung, C. G. (Carl Gustav), 1875-1961 person
associatedWith Kael, Pauline person
associatedWith Kefauver, Estes, 1903-1963 person
associatedWith Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963 person
associatedWith Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968 person
associatedWith Koch, Ed, 1924- person
associatedWith Leff, James J., 1920- person
associatedWith Lenox Hill Club corporateBody
associatedWith Lexington Democratic Club corporateBody
associatedWith Lindsay, John V. (John Vliet) person
associatedWith Luce, Henry Robinson, 1898-1967 person
associatedWith MacInnes, Helen, 1907- person
associatedWith MacLeish, Archibald, 1892- person
associatedWith Mailer, Norman person
associatedWith McCully, Robert S., 1921- person
associatedWith Miller, Henry, 1891- person
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Ottenberg, James person
correspondedWith Pen Club corporateBody
associatedWith Pucci, Emilio, 1914- person
associatedWith Ridgway, Franzi person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor person
associatedWith Ross, Nancy Wilson, 1901-1986 person
spouseOf Rufenacht, Jean person
associatedWith Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, 1917- person
associatedWith Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969 person
associatedWith Smith, Betty, 1896-1972 person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Smith College. corporateBody
associatedWith Starr, Polly Thayer person
associatedWith Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965 person
associatedWith Swanberg, W. A., 1907- person
associatedWith Tree, Marietta, 1917- person
employeeOf United States. Office of Strategic Services corporateBody
correspondedWith Urban League of Denver corporateBody
associatedWith Vonnegut, Kurt person
associatedWith Walcott, William person
associatedWith Wertenbaker, Charles, 1901-1955 person
associatedWith Wertenbaker, Lael Tucker, 1909- person
associatedWith West, Rebecca, Dame, 1892- person
associatedWith Wilmer, Harry A., 1917- person
associatedWith Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Boston MA US
New York City NY US
American literature--20th century


Birth 1903-10-29

Death 1997-01-10



Ark ID: w6dk6533

SNAC ID: 84398801