UC Berkeley Library

Paul "Pete" Bancroft

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Spotlight on Supporters

"My roots are deeply attached to the ongoing success of this marvelous institution."

Paul "Pete" Bancroft III will never forget that electrifying moment from his childhood. On a visit to the library named for his great grandfather, an 11-year-old Pete cradled in his hands the original--and seemingly bloodstained--diary of a surviving member of the doomed Donner Party exhibition.

Collected by Pete's forebear, 19th-century book dealer Hubert Howe Bancroft, the handwritten account of Patrick Breen details the horrific winter of 1846-47 for a party of California-bound settlers trapped in the high Sierras. "I remember being thrilled and frightened to death holding that precious document," Pete recalls of his first, awe-inspiring encounter with one of the great treasures held by The Bancroft Library.

As The Bancroft Library embarked on its second century on the Berkeley campus, Pete was a pivotal benefactor and enthusiastic leader of its $33-million Centennial Campaign. "I am very proud that my family's name is on the door of such a wonderful institution," he says. 

More recently, Pete has supported the Bancroft's Oral History Center. His involvement began as a subject, when he was interviewed as part of the Oral History Center’s Venture Capitalist series

Pete became determined to help the Oral History Center find a firmer financial footing. Through two successive major gifts, Bancroft helped create a $2 million endowment in 2014 to fund the director’s position. (Named for former Bancroft Director Charles B. Faulhaber, the position is currently held by Neil Henry.)

Pete's commitment to the library's renewal emanates from the considerable pull of his family ties, the encouragement of his wife, Monica, to "return to my roots in the Library," and an abiding belief in the vital scholarly role served by The Bancroft. "It's not just a memory of my great grandfather," he says. "It's a living legacy that's growing and flourishing."

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