Nancy J Babb & the Russian Revolution

Today we visit the replacement passport application of Nancy J. Babb. She is the daughter of Enoch Luther Babb and his wife Judith Babb who were married on 20 Jan 1880 in Southampton County, Virginia who were featured recently in an article by the title “Kissing Cousins”.

Nancy’s application is anything but normal. In a day when most women led subservient lives Nancy was traveling the world and landed in some extremely interesting places!

She was born 08 June 1884 in Southampton County, VA, but the year of the application is 1925 where the new passport is issued in Washington DC. Her father had just died on the 12th of July the year before, but she was apparently abroad when it happened. Just over 6 months later she is back in the US getting her new passport.

The cover image shows all the locations mentioned in her application…that I can make out!

Chronology of Events

Note that the names of the events don’t correspond to our modern calendar. This is due to changes introduced from the switch from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar which was enacted in different countries over a period of 341 years. All dates below are in our modern calendar.

-14–15 April 1912 – The Titanic Sinks
-28 Jul 1914 – WWI Begins
-17 May 1915 – RMS Lusitania is sunk by Germany, beginning the battle cry Remember the Lusitania!
-08 Mar 1917 – February Revolution begins in Petrograd (present day St. Petersburg) lasting for 8 days.
-12 Mar 1917 – The forces of the capital’s garrison sided with the revolutionaries and convince/force the Tzar to abdicate.
-15 Mar 1917 – Tzar Nicholas II abdicates, ending Romanow dynastic rule and the Russian Empire. A deeply unpopular provisional government was installed.
-16 Jul 1917 – 4 days of protests characterized by spontaneous armed demonstrations by soldiers, sailors, and industrial workers engaged against the provisional government. The Provisional Government blamed the Bolsheviks for the violence brought about by the July Days and in a subsequent crackdown on the Bolshevik Party, the party was dispersed, many of the leadership arrested.[4] Vladimir Lenin fled to Finland, while Leon Trotsky was among those arrested.[5]
-Aug 1917 – Nancy J. Babb arrives in Buzuluk, Russia as a volunteer for the American Friends Service Committee, which exists to this day. ( The extent of her stay is unknown. At some point she moves to Omsk, Siberia, Russia.
-07 Nov 1917 – The October/Bolshevik Revolution begins led by Vladimir Lenin. It was the precipitating event of the Russian Civil War which lasted for 6 years.
-14 Feb 1918 Russia adopts the Julian Calendar. Why they did this in the middle of a civil war seems pointless to me, but those are the facts.
-11 Nov 1918 WWI officially ends.
-Jul 1919 – Nancy J. Babb leaves Omsk, Siberia, Russia, destination unknown.
-May 1921 – Nancy is in Berlin, Germany and eventually returns to Buzuluk, Russia.
-12 Jul 1924 – Nancy’s father Enoch Luther Babb dies.
-Nov 1924 – Nancy leaves Buzuluk, Russia and heads to Vienna, Austria.
-Nov 1924 – Nancy applies for and receives an Emergency Passport in Vienna that allows her to return to the US. If she came home to grieve it wasn’t for long.
-23 Jan 1925 – in Philadelphia, PA Nancy applies for a replacement passport. The fee is received 3 days later and approved 2 days after that.
-21 Feb 1925 – Nancy is to board the RMS Aguatania of the Cunard Line. Her next destinations are listed as Belgium, Germany, Poland, England, Russia, Constantinople (present day Turkey), Austria, Italy, Asia Minor (present day Turkey), Switzerland and Egypt. There are margin notes that aren’t easily discernable in the scanned image, so this is an incomplete list.
-28 Jun 1948 – Nancy passes away in Winchester, VA.

If the name RMS Aquitania sounds a bit familiar it isn’t without good cause. She was paired with the RMS Mauretania and RMS Lusitania whose names are legendary. I came across this excellent review of the life of the RMS Aguitania:

Take a look inside the Aquitania:


I’ve taken the opportunity to write the American Friends Service Committee to see if they can shed light on Nancy’s amazing life of service. Should they respond I’ll post an update. It’s always a dice roll on these requests.

I feel like I’m a name dropper on this post, but the story just kept unfolding in new and untold ways. I hope you’ve enjoyed our travels through Nancy’s wide ride!

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