Thomas Babb was born in 1841 in Staffordshire, England, but moved to the United States in 1860. Settling first in Ohio, where he was married, Babb moved to Mahomet, Champaign County, Ill., in 1861. Babb spent the next two decades acquiring and farming several hundred acres of land throughout the county, before starting a hog and grain business in 1880. These businesses flourished, and in 1897 Babb began splitting his time between Illinois and Texas, where he owned a cattle business. After his wife's death, Babb traveled throughout the world until his own death in 1915.
These diaries document Babb's daily life during his travels. Book A, dating from Aug.-Nov. 1905, describes a return trip to Great Britain, while Books B-D record a lengthy trip around the world from July 1908 through Apr. 1909. Books E-F trace Babb's travels in Italy, Egypt, and the Middle East, Sept.-Nov. 1909, and a 1910 journey through Texas. Book G begins with a visit to England in 1911, and ends with a trip to Texas, where he remarried in early 1912. Finally, Book H is a record of a trip to the West Coast and back during Sept. and Oct. 1912.
Ann Gibbons of Champaign, Ill., and Ruth Cole of Hull, Ill., donated these diaries to the Survey in 2001.