Kroger Babb & The Prince of Peace (1948)

I have this fascination with Kroger Babb, who was a movie producer/director from the early days of film. He is known as the King of the Roadshow. He would take his movie on the road from town to town renting out local movie houses and creating events worthy of attracting crowds.

His movies not spectacular, but he was the consummate salesman. He was very good at creating a compelling narrative that brought people into the theaters in droves.

Attached is an advertisement for one of his films, “The Prince of Peace”. This rare surviving page is on an 11″x 17″ page that could be folded in half and mailed to the theater in advance of his arrival. They would typically bring hundreds of these and staple them up all over town to drum up attendance. The item could also be handed out on the street. During the intermission Kroger would sell Bibles and other spiritual literature.

Babb’s associates agreed with his belief that “Nothing’s hopeless if it’s advertised right”, stating that he “could take any piece of junk and sell it.”[4] One film Babb presented in the 1950s was centered on an annual passion play and the story behind putting it on, filmed in 1948 in Lawton, Oklahoma. Initially called The Lawton Story and filmed in Cinecolor, the film was so cheaply, shoddily and quickly made that telephone poles could be seen behind the crucifix. Its cast consisted of local non-professionals whose Oklahoma twangs were so thick that all of their lines had to re-recorded by professional voice-over actors; upon release, one reviewer described it as “the only film that had to be dubbed from English to English.”[4] In addition to re-dubbing it, Babb re-edited and re-titled it The Prince of Peace; it was so successful that the New York Daily News called it “the Miracle of Broadway.”[4]
Source for last paragraph:


Time Travel

I’m siting here waiting on my ride to the airport. My journey back in time begins today at Noon at DFW Airport, From there I fly to JFK Airport in NY and have a several hour layover, before the overnight flight to Birmingham, England, which arrives at 7 tomorrow morning local time.

We had the switch for Daylight savings time last night so I already am a bit displaced. Pile on top of that the 6 hours difference in time zones and I’m sure to be out of it by then. I’ll do my best to post occasionally while I’m there, but getting this collection nailed down is my primary objective. My secondary is to provide you with a new interesting document each day, which I will do in my next post.




Letters & Pictures and Deeds oh my!

I am heading to England next week to appraise and digitize the lifetime of genealogical research done by Ian Babb. After decades of research, Ian passed away without having published his findings on the various Babb lineages in England.

There is a longstanding gap in our body of knowledge about these Babbs. Our first Genealogist Jean A. Sargent, did most of her work on the Babb lines in the US, but only had limited research in England. Time and technology has changed the game considerably over the last decade. When I started, the Census wasn’t fully indexed yet and you had to make special trips to the National Archives just to use their crappy manual microfilm readers. You haven’t lived until you have wheeled through 400 pages of the Census only to find out the item you wanted is at the front of the next roll.

Today, all of that is available online, but there are mountains of un-scanned data, just like Ian’s. There is a phenomenal amount of history on the Island and they have books that are from before America was discovered. Well….at least by Columbus.

I’ve been talking to a few fellow genealogists about how best to digitize Ian’s collection and have stumbled across two devices that should help us immensely. They arrived at my house about a week before my departure date and I’ll be bringing them with me. The first is a high speed scanner (Fujitsu iX500 ScanSnap Document Scanner (PA03656-B305) that can scan both sides of 25 pages a minute, eliminate blank pages, index them and make searchable PDFs. It is the top rated scanner on the market. One reviewer claims that he scanned 1500 pages in an hour and almost cried from sheer joy. The Automatic Document Feeder holds 50 pages at a time. Once it is digitized we can go over it at our leisure and begin to share the work with others, just like we did with Jean’s work.

The second device is another I discovered that is aimed more at Photos, than documents. It hovers over the photo album and scans images, piecing together larger images into a single file. This way you never have to remove them from the photo album. It makes digitation easy. It’s called the Flip-Pal. This one is battery operated.

Using these two devices I, along with a day off from work, I was able to digitize what turned out to be 7 years of backlogged documents (roughly 700 pages). reducing about a half foot of documents I had amassed in my days of research into several dozen tidy digital files.

I’ll be sharing those documents shortly, but for today I wanted to share the great news of this epic Genealogical Journey. Watch for my posts from the road!