University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Thomas Babb Diaries and Notes (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the Thomas Babb Diaries and Notes consists of 8 travel journals created by Thomas Babb from 1905-1912.

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, Illinois, 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 describes a return trip to Great Britain in 1905, while Books B-D record a lengthy trip around the world from 1908-1909. Books E-F trace Babb's travels in Italy, Egypt, and the Middle East in 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 fall 1912.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the Thomas Babb Diaries and Notes (MS 444). The collection was completely digitized in 2019. For more information, contact an archivist at