James E. Babb Memorial collection
Scope and Contents
James Babb's correspondence deals primarily with state and national politics. His most prominent correspondents were Senator William E. Borah (one hundred and ninety-three items 1898-1933) and William Jennings Bryan (forty-five letters 1880-1924). Borah and Babb wrote each other about many national issues including women's suffrage, the League of Nations, the World Court, Roosevelt's National Recovery Act and the executive branch's influence over the judiciary. Borah also occasionally asked Babb to act as an intermediary between him and special interest groups in Idaho.
William Jennings Bryan also wrote to Babb about national politics. Babb and Bryan attended Illinois College together, and both had served on the college's debating team. Although Bryan was a Democrat and Babb was an equally staunch Republican, the Commoner insisted that their political views were not so different (1882). He also wrote candidly about his decision to move to Nebraska and enter politics (1889). Later, Bryan sent his friend a short note about his decision to resign as Secretary of State, and in 1919, he outlined his stand on the League of Nations. During the 1920's, Bryan drafted several letters defending fundamentalist Christianity against the onslaught of evolutionary thought (1923) and warned Babb to protect his son from agnostic professors at Yale.
Throughout his career Babb received letters from a variety of Idaho Republicans, including three governors, four senators, and numerous congressmen. All discuss the Republican party and politics in Idaho.
Babb's correspondence contains few family letters. The single letter from his wife, Daisey, concerns her observations of the 1892 Democratic National Convention. Through the influence of Bryan, she was allowed to attend the Democratic gathering in Chicago.
In addition to the correspondence of James E. Babb, this series contains eighty-nine letters to and from Charles Johnson Tinkham and his wife (1860-(1861-1862)-1891). Tinkham wrote fifty-three letters to his wife, Carrie, when he served as a Union officer in the Civil War. As a Lieutenant-Colonel in General Rosecrans' Army of the Mississippi Valley, Tinkham described the sights and sounds of army camp life, the movement of enemy troops, and the experiences of battle.
Tinkham was shot in the right hand in May 1862 while leading his troops into battle near Corinth, Mississippi. He convalesced for several months and then abruptly left the army. After reporting "a difficulty with Major Gillmore" over a military arrest he had made, Tinkham told his wife: "I could not have the matter arranged in a manner I considered satisfactory...(therefore) I tendered my resignation and had it accepted." The retired Lieutenant-Colonel returned to Homer, Illinois, and resumed work as a merchant.
The remaining letters in this series come from officers and enlisted men in the Union Army. Most wrote about the details of army life.
Series II, WRITINGS AND MEMORABILIA, contains over twenty-five documents pertaining to the Civil War. Most are written orders to Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Tinkham. This series also includes an autograph collection with twenty-one manuscripts signed by such diverse public figures as General Pierre DuPont (1821) and A1 Jolson (1921). Finally, this series holds eighteen folders of memorabilia including two photographs of William Jennings Bryan, genealogical records of local Idaho families, Mrs. Babb's scrapbook, two receipt books from the brokerage house of McAlister and Warren, and several folders of newspaper clippings about William E. Borah and his role in United States foreign policy.
The James E. Babb Papers were given to Yale University Library by James T. Babb. There were also donations to several other institutions: memorabilia of Daisy (Tinkham) Babb to St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Terre Haute, Ind. [now a college under a different name], where Mrs. Babb and her mother were educated; and diaries and memorabilia of James E. Babb to Illinois College, Jackson, Ill. [founded by one of the "Yale Bands"], and Union College of Law [now Northeastern University Law School].
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
1.5 Linear Feet (4 boxes, 1 folio)
Biographical / Historical
Babb moved to Lewiston, Idaho, in 1892 and soon became one of the most prominent lawyers and Republicans in the State. He was often asked to run for Justice of the State Supreme Court, Congressman, Senator, and Governor. Each time he turned down the requests. Nevertheless, he did play a prominent role in Idaho politics as close advisor to Senator William E. Borah and many other Republican office holders.
Babb died 1934 May 26.
- Argyll, George Douglas Campbell, Duke of, 1823-1900
- Babb, James E. (James Elisha), 1864-1934
- Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, 1816-1894
- Barnard, J. G. (John Gross), 1815-1882
- Borah, William Edgar, 1865-1940
- Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925
- Cantor, Eddie, 1892-1964
- Capen, Nahum, 1804-1886
- Chafee, Adna Romanza, 1884-1941
- Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1827-1892
- Dupont, Pierre, 1821-1870
- Fergus, Robert Collyer
- Franklin, William Buel, 1823-1903
- Headley, J. T., 1813-1897
- Heyburn, Weldon Brinton, 1852-1912
- Idaho -- Politics and government
- Jay, John, 1817-1894
- Jolson, Al, 1886-1950
- League of Nations
- Lyon, Caleb, 1822-1875
- McKinley, William, 1843-1901
- Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
- Tinkham, Charles Johnson, 1825-1891
- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
- United States -- Politics and government
- West (U.S.)
- Wilson, Edgar, 1861-
- Women -- Suffrage
- Guide to the James E. Babb Memorial Collection
- compiled by Peter Bollier
- December 1976
- Language of description
- Finding aid written in English.