Wilder Dwight Bancroft

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W.D. Bancroft

Wilder Dwight Bancroft (October 1, 1867 – February 7, 1953) was an American physical chemist.


Born in Middletown, Rhode Island, he received a B.A. from Harvard University in 1888, a Ph.D. from University of Leipzig in 1892, and honorary SCDs from Lafayette College (in 1919) and Cambridge University (in 1923). He was the grandson of historian and statesman George Bancroft and great-grandson of Aaron Bancroft.

He was an assistant chemistry instructor at Harvard University from 1888–1889 and 1893–1894, then a full instructor from 1894-1895. He then became an assistant professor at Cornell University in 1895, then a full professor (at Cornell) in 1903. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1913.[1]

Bancroft was trained by Wilhelm Ostwald and Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff, and introduced a number of thermodynamic and colloid-chemical concepts into American physicochemistry. He is known for the Bancroft rule: a predominantly hydrophilic emulsifier stabilizes an oil-in-water emulsion, whereas a predominantly hydrophobic emulsifier stabilizes a water-in oil emulsion.

The lunar crater Bancroft is named in his honor.

His daughter, Mary Warner Bancroft (1896–1967) married another Cornell chemistry professor, Melvin Lorrel Nichols (1894–1981).

Selected writings

  • W. D. Bancroft (1913), Theory of emulsification, Journal of Physical Chemistry 17, 501 – 519.

See also


  1. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 17, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links