Named for George Bancroft, an American historian and statesman who was prominent in promoting secondary education, Bancroft Elementary School opened in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in 1924 with only eight rooms. At that time the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, one of the most diverse in Washington, DC, was home to many European refugees from WWI. Later during the Great Depression, the neighborhood saw an influx of would-be government workers. As a result of the growth in its area, the school expanded twice in the 1930s.
Bancroft has a long history of embracing diversity which is evidenced by its 50% African American population in 1958, just four years after Brown v. Board of Education. Today, the student body of Bancroft Elementary School is perhaps one of the more diverse schools in the District with a learning environment comprised of students and teachers from more than 40 countries.