Skip to main content

Havilah Babcock papers

Identifier: SCL-MS-3796

Educator, author, and outdoorsman, Havilah Babcock was born on March 6, 1898 in Appomattox, Virginia, a son of H.C. and Blanche Moore Babcock. He married Alice Hudson Cheatham in 1919. They had one son, Hudson Homer Havilah. He received a Bachelor of Arts in 1918 and a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1919 from Elon College in North Carolina. His Master of Arts was from the University of Virginia. Babcock received his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1927. Prior to that he had served as professor and head of the department of English at Elon College and associate professor and head of the department of Journalism at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Babcock came to USC in 1926 on a year's leave of absence from William and Mary College and, he said, he found the hunting and fishing so good in South Carolina that he decided to stay. At the University, he served as associate professor of English (1927-29), Director of Extension (1927-37), professor of English (1929-64), head of the Division of English Literature (1935-39) and head of the department of English until his retirement (1939-64).

His interest in the profession of journalism always remained keen, and despite the pressures of teaching and other various activities, he continued as an editorial writer for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot,The State, and the Columbia Record. He always believed that the University's educational opportunities should not be limited to the on-campus instructional programs. In 1927 he was appointed Director of Extension and continued in that role for a decade. With very limited resources, he sustained the life of a service which later was to become one of the University's major enterprises.

Under Babcock's unconventional but effective leadership as the head of the English department, it was for twenty-seven years one of the strongest in the University. As an educator, his primary concern was excellence in writing and teaching, and he expected nothing but the best from his staff. His own course in vocabulary and semantics became one of the most sought-after courses at USC.

Whether in good health or bad, Babcock could not resist the pleasures of hunting, fishing and gardening, which occasionally came into conflict with his teaching duties. During one hunting season, Babcock's enterprising and fore-sighted secretary posted on the bulletin board, “Dr. Babcock will be sick all next week.” This great love of the outdoors provided the inspiration for many of his essays and short stories. He also sought to improve and conserve the state's fish and game resources through his service as President of the South Carolina Fish and Game Association, President of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, and as National Director of the Izaak Walton League.

As a writer of essays and short stories, his last ten years were among his most productive, and he retained his prowess as a writer and as a teacher up to within a few weeks of the end of his life. For many years, his works were constantly featured in newspapers and magazines. Among his major publications are the following books: My Health is Better in November, Tales of Quails ‘N Such, I Don't Want to Shoot an Elephant, The Education of Pretty Boy, and Jaybirds Go to Hell on Friday. Published in 1964, Jaybirds was his final work. He died on December 10, 1964.

The papers of Havilah Babcock consist primarily of materials relating to his publishing endeavors. The bulk of the material dates from the 1940s to the 1960s and contains fan letters, book orders, manuscripts, and typescripts.


  • 1920 - 1964
  • Majority of material found within 1940-1963


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

All rights reside with creator. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact The South Caroliniana Library.


1.5 Linear Feet


Description of Series

General Correspondence:

Chronologically arranged, this series is the primary location for correspondence and materials regarding family matters.


31 issues of various outdoor magazines, 1933-63, each with at least one Babcock contribution, some with his mailing label. Periodicals represented include Sports Afield,Outdoor Life, The Carolina Sportsman, Field and Stream, and Outdoor Nebraska. Arranged alphabetically.


This series contains 8 manuscripts, 7 of which are Babcock's. The eighth is written about Babcock by a former student. Included are two working typescripts for the important story “I Don't Want to Shoot an Elephant.” Detailed descriptions are given in the file key for each manuscript. Arranged alphabetically.

Newspaper Clippings:

Large file of newspaper clippings, mostly reviews of Babcock's books or articles about him.

Short Stories, completed:

17 typescripts for stories, a few with minor manuscript corrections and additions.

Short Stories, considered for book:

11 typescripts for short stories; all are among the 44 titles on an accompanying list headed "Stories that are to be copied for possible use in new book." These are clean typescripts with only a couple of minor ink corrections; four bear the notation "Suggest reject. H.B." in Babcock's hand at the head of the first page. Arranged in the order on Babcock's list.

Short Stories, fragments:

50+ typescripts (some fragments) for stories ???(about 325 pages, quarto and folio) mostly typed but some pages in manuscript, almost all bearing heavy manuscript revisions, additions, and corrections.


Babcock's reputation for humorous stories put him in high demand as a speaker. This series contains 15 typescripts (some fragments) for several speeches.


This series consists of fan letters, book requests, correspondence with publishers and writers for outdoor magazines, materials regarding Babcock's honey farm and his collection of postmarked cards from towns with unusual names.


Also includes accession numbers 5164, 5171, and 12684.

Repository Details

Part of the South Caroliniana Library Repository

910 Sumter St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA
(803) 777-5747 (Fax)

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script