Tech alumnus donates Camp Ruston POW diary to Louisiana Tech Archives

Sep 20, 2023 | Alumni, Faculty/Staff, General News, Liberal Arts, Research, Tech Family

An authentic German prisoner of war (POW) diary with stamping from Camp Ruston, along with other items, has been donated to the Louisiana Tech Archives by Louisiana Tech University alumnus Stephen Babcock.

The handmade diary is a rare find, with German watermarks and stamped as having been logged at Camp Ruston. The diary contains entries from 1945, telephone numbers, names, and more. It comes with a second U.S.-purchased diary, most likely obtained at Camp Ruston, and stamped by the same U.S. soldier, Corporal Ed Galloway, who approved it to be kept as personal property during the prisoner’s time at Camp Ruston.

The items that accompanied the diaries include a German war scene postcard from 1942, four 1936 Absolvia Third Reich cards filled with signatures, a German songbook, and a paper that shows there was ancestry born in Germany. 

From June 1943 to June 1946, Camp Ruston served as one of more than 500 POW camps in the United States. Camp Ruston housed over 5,000 POWs at one time close to 80% were German soldiers. 

“In the spirit of collaboration and historic preservation, I am pleased to loan this WWII German POW Soldier Camp Ruston handmade diary to the Camp Ruston collection at Louisiana Tech,” Babcock said. “During World War II, Camp Ruston was one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps in the United States. I hope this small addition adds to the historical tapestry of the collection and inspires curiosity.”

Historian Wesley Harris, President of the Lincoln Parish Museum, is an avid collector of Camp Ruston memorabilia. After seeing a post about the diary Harris made on social media, Babcock made the decision to purchase the items outright and loan them to the archives.

“I’ve collected memorabilia related to Camp Ruston for years. I frequently check auction sites for items related to the camp with the intent to someday donate my collection to Louisiana Tech,” Harris said. “I saw the German soldier’s diary on an auction site and posted about it in several Facebook groups hoping to generate interest in getting donations to purchase it for the Tech Camp Ruston Collection. Tech alumnus Stephen Babcock stepped in to purchase it outright.”

Through Harris’ hours of research in the Tech Archives, he understands the importance of acquiring artifacts and documents for the collection. 

“Louisiana Tech is the major repository for Camp Ruston items, and no other World War II POW camp has been so carefully documented and its history preserved,” Harris said.

On Sept. 12 Babcock joined Harris along with President Dr. Les Guice, Executive Director of Library Services, Angela Dunnington, and Library Specialist, Tanya Arant for the signing of documents that finalize the loaning of the items to the Special Collections Archives. 

“This is a special, one-of-a-kind piece of history that provides unique information on the life of a German POW during his time at Camp Ruston, just a few miles from Louisiana Tech’s campus,” Guice said. “To have these items on display as a part of the Louisiana Tech special collection is a privilege, and we are thankful for Stephen Babcock’s generous donation and support to our archives.”

Babcock is a native of Ruston and graduated from Tech in 1997 with a BS in Marketing. After graduation, he attended Louisiana State University’s Law School and lives in Baton Rouge with his wife Jessie, and daughter Audrey. Babcock is the founding partner of Babcock Trial Lawyers and has a state-wide litigation practice.