Babst, Earl D., 1870-1967

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New York attorney and business executive.

From the description of Earl D. Babst papers, 1894-1967. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34422252

Earl D. Babst was a nationally known lawyer, industrialist, and businessman, who maintained throughout his life a deep and abiding affection for his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Born July 6, 1870, in Crestline, Ohio, Babst attended Kenyon College, then transferred to the University of Michigan where he received a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1893 and a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1894.

Upon graduation, Babst practiced law in Detroit where he also became counsel and associate editor (1894-1902) of The Michigan Farmer, a widely circulated and influential weekly paper. During the 1896 election, he served as secretary of the Michigan Sound Money League, an anti-Bryan, anti-Free Silver organization of businessmen. Two years later, in 1898, he became secretary of the Citizens Committee on Education which initiated a plan for the administration of the public schools of Detroit.

Also in 1898, Babst's career took a new direction when he went to Chicago on a case involving the National Biscuit Company, one of the nation's major food companies that was attempting to market its products in packages identified by national trademarks and promoted by national advertising. Before this time, most food products were sold in bulk containers. The changeover to identifiable packaging involved long and tedious patent and trademark litigation, because each state had its own laws restricting corporations in others states from doing business in their region. Babst was influential in removing these barriers and opening the way for uniformity in the laws regulating the food industry.

In 1902, Babst moved to Chicago with his own law firm - Green, Peters and Babst. In 1906, he went to New York as general counsel and vice president of the National Biscuit Company. In 1915, Babst became president of the American Sugar Refining Company. Here, Babst was primarily responsible for revolutionizing the marketing and packaging of sugar. Until then, sugar was sold to brokers who distributed it to wholesalers and retailers, packed in bags or barrels, and then sold to consumers in paper bags. Upon firsthand investigation, Babst believed the traditional method to be both wasteful and unsanitary. The most efficient and sanitary way to distribute sugar, he felt, was to market it in sealed cartons that would insure full weight and leave it untouched by any hands other than the consumer's.

Although not unchallenged, Babst's viewpoint became established and Babst became a respected voice in New York and Wall Street business circles. During World War I, he represented the United States as a member of the International Sugar Committee that, in cooperation with the United States Food Administration, worked to allocate sugar supplies to the Allies. In 1925, Babst became chairman of the American Sugar Refining Company and its chief executive officer. He served as CEO until 1937, and was chairman until his retirement in 1951. During his career Babst was also director of various New York banks and financial institutions.

During the later part of his life, Babst turned much of his energies to his lifelong love of the University of Michigan. Long active in Alumni Association affairs, Babst had a keen interest in University of Michigan history. As sponsor of the Michigan Historical Collections of the University of Michigan, Babst suggested that a study be conducted of the contributions made during the presidency of Grover Cleveland by U-M alumni and former students. The result was the publication in 1948 of Michigan and the Cleveland Era, a book jointly edited by Babst and Collections director Lewis G. Vander Velde.

Earl D. Babst died April 23, 1967 at age 96. In 1903, he had married Alice Edwina Uhl, daughter of Edwin F. Uhl, assistant secretary of state and ambassador to Germany, 1893-1896. Babst was survived by two daughters, Mrs. George H. Parsons and Mrs. George P. Bent 2d.

From the guide to the Earl D. Babst papers, 1899-1967, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Wilfred B. Shaw Papers, 1873-1954, 1900-1951 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn W.J. McCahan Sugar Refining and Molasses Company. Office of the Vice President. Correspondence files, 1928-1945. University of Florida
creatorOf Murfin, James O. (James Orin), 1875-1940. James Orin Murfin papers, 1896-1940. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Burton, Marion Le Roy, 1874-1925. Marion LeRoy Burton papers, 1901-1925. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Marion L. Burton Papers, 1895-1925, 1921-1925 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Earl D. Babst papers, 1899-1967 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Francis Willey Kelsey Papers, 1891-1953 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. Law School. Law School (University of Michigan) law lectures, 1881-1919. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Francis Willey Kelsey Papers, 1891-1953 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Harry Burns Hutchins Papers, 1879-1930 Bentley Historical Library University if Michigan
creatorOf Francis Willey Kelsey Papers, 1891-1953 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Shaw, Wilfred Byron, 1881-1959. Wilfred Byron Shaw papers, 1873-1954 (bulk 1900-1951) University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Bates, Henry Moore, 1869-1949. Henry Moore Bates papers, 1886-1950. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Van Tyne, Claude Halstead, 1869-1930. Claude Halstead Van Tyne papers, 1885-1930. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Burton, Marion Le Roy, 1874-1925. Marion LeRoy Burton papers, 1895-1925. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Babst, Earl D., 1870-1967. Earl D. Babst papers, 1894-1967. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Law School (University of Michigan) law lectures, 1881-1919 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Shaw, Wilfred Byron, 1881-1959. Wilfred Byron Shaw papers, 1900-1954. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Henry Moore Bates papers, 1886-1950 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn James Orin Murfin papers, 1896-1940 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Claude Halstead Van Tyne papers, 1885-1930 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Alexander G. Ruthven Papers, 1901-1961, 1906-1951 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Anti-Imperialist League. corporateBody
associatedWith American Honest Money League. corporateBody
associatedWith American Sugar Refining Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Bates, Henry Moore, 1869-1949. person
associatedWith Burton, Marion Le Roy, 1874-1925. person
associatedWith corpname corporateBody
associatedWith Hutchins, Harry B. (Harry Burns), 1847-1930 person
associatedWith Kelsey, Francis W. (Francis Willey), b. 1858. person
associatedWith Michigan Historical Collections. corporateBody
associatedWith Murfin, James O. (James Orin), 1875-1940. person
associatedWith National Biscuit Company. corporateBody
associatedWith persname person
associatedWith Ruthven, Alexander Grant, 1882- person
associatedWith Shaw, Wilfred Byron, 1881-1959. person
associatedWith University of Michigan corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan Club of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Law School. corporateBody
associatedWith Van Tyne, Claude Halstead, 1869-1930. person
associatedWith W.J. McCahan Sugar Refining and Molasses Company. Office of the Vice President. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
geogname
Subject
Presidents--Election--1896
Lawyers--New York (State)--New York
Silver question
Presidents--United States--Election--1896
Law offices--New York (State)--New York
Lawyers
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1870

Death 1967

Information

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