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Roger Babson

Roger W. Babson
Babson pictured in The Babsonian 1920, Babson yearbook
Born (1875-07-06)July 6, 1875
Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA
Died March 5, 1967(1967-03-05) (aged 91)
Lake Wales, Florida, USA
Education MIT (1898)
Occupation Entrepreneur, Businessman, Economist, Writer, Philanthropist
Known for Business forecasting, founding of universities, predicting Wall Street Crash of 1929
Political party Prohibition Party
Religion Protestantism
Spouse(s) Grace Margaret Knight (m. 1900 - d. 1956)
Nona M. Dougherty (m. 1957 - d. 1963)
Children Edith Low Babson
Parent(s) Nathaniel Babson and Ellen Starns

Roger Ward Babson (July 6, 1875 – March 5, 1967), remembered today largely for founding Babson College in Massachusetts, was an entrepreneur and business theorist in the first half of the 20th century. He also founded Webber College, now Webber International University, in Babson Park, Florida, and the defunct Utopia College, in Eureka, Kansas.

He was born to Nathaniel Babson and his wife Ellen Stearns as part of the tenth generation of Babsons to live in Babson-United, Inc..[1]

On March 29, 1900, Babson married his first wife, Grace Margaret Knight, who died in 1956. In 1957 he remarried to Nona M. Dougherty, who died in 1963. Babson died in 1967.


  • Work on financial theory 1
    • Babson's "Ten Commandments" of investing 1.1
  • Role in development of Andrews Pitchfork 2
  • Political career 3
  • Role in development of the parking meter 4
  • Establishment of the Gravity Research Foundation 5
  • The "Babson Boulders" of Dogtown, Mass. 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Work on financial theory

Babson's success as an investor was based on unorthodox views of the operation of markets. According to biographer John Mulkern, Babson attributed the business cycle: to Sir Isaac Newton's law of action and reaction.... His pseudoscientific notion, that the gravity can be used to explain movement in the stock markets. His market forecasting techniques are in articles in Traders World Magazine and the Gravity Research Foundation he founded.

While attending MIT he received a degree in Engineering. He lobbied the dean to include a business course, which resulted in a course known as "Business Engineering". This was the start of Business being taught at an American University. Eventually the Business Engineering program was expanded and it is now seen as the fore runner of the MBA degree.[2]

Babson authored more than forty books on economic and social problems, the most widely read being Business Barometers (eight editions) and Business Barometers for Profits, Security, Income (ten editions). Babson also wrote hundreds of magazine articles and newspaper columns. He was a popular lecturer on business and financial trends.

Babson was an investor and sometimes director of many corporations, including some traded on the New York Stock Exchange. He established an investment advisory company Babson's Reports which published one of the oldest investment newsletters in America.

Babson's "Ten Commandments" of investing

Babson had "ten commandments" he followed in investing and encouraged his readers to do the same. These were:

  1. Keep speculation and investments separate.
  2. Don't be fooled by a name.
  3. Be wary of new promotions.
  4. Give due consideration to market ability.
  5. Don't buy without proper facts.
  6. Safeguard purchases through diversification.
  7. Don't try to diversify by buying different securities of the same company.
  8. Small companies should be carefully scrutinized.
  9. Buy adequate security, not super abundance.
  10. Choose your dealer and buy outright (i.e., don't buy on margin.)[3]

On September 5, 1929, he gave a speech saying, "Sooner or later a crash is coming, and it may be terrific."[4] Later that day the stock market declined by about 3%. This became known as the "Babson Break". The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression soon followed.

Role in development of Andrews Pitchfork

He learned to draw a nominal line through zigzagging market action on charts from George F. Swain, a Professor of Engineering when he worked with him and later taught this technique to Allan H. Andrews who further refined it into "Andrews Pitchfork" a now commonly used trendline indicator.[5]

Political career

Babson was the Prohibition Party's candidate for President of the United States in 1940. Election was won by incumbent President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the Democratic Party. Babson was surpassed by two other unsuccessful candidates:

Role in development of the parking meter

In the late 1920s, Babson filed several patents for a parking meter.[6] The meters were suggested to operate on power from the battery of the parking vehicle and required a connection from the vehicle to the meter. In 1932, Carl Magee began to work on the parking meter and since his parking meter was the first to be installed for actual use on July 1935 in Oklahoma city, Magee is known as the inventor of the parking meter.

Establishment of the Gravity Research Foundation

Babson founded the Gravity Research Foundation in 1948.[7] The Foundation established a research facility in the town of New Boston, New Hampshire after Babson determined that this location was far enough away from the city of Boston, Massachusetts to survive a nuclear attack.

The "Babson Boulders" of Dogtown, Mass.

An example of a "Babson Boulder" at Dogtown

Babson was interested in the history of an abandoned settlement in Gloucester known as Dogtown. To provide charitable assistance to unemployed stonecutters in Gloucester during the Great Depression, Babson commissioned them to carve inspirational inscriptions on approximately two dozen boulders in the area surrounding Dogtown Common. The Babson Boulder Trail exists today as a well-known hiking and mountain-biking trail. The inscriptions are clearly visible. The boulders are scattered, not all are on the trail, and not all of the inscriptions face it, making finding them something of a challenge. Samples of some of the two dozen inscriptions include: "HELP MOTHER", "SPIRITUAL POWER", "GET A JOB", "KEEP OUT OF DEBT", and "LOYALTY".[8][9]


  1. ^ Babson-United, Inc. "Babson-United". Babson-United, Inc. Retrieved 2007-05-22. : A Short History of Roger L. Babson's firm
  2. ^ John Mulkern (1994). "Continuity and Change: Babson College, 1919-1994". Babson College Archives and Special Collections. Retrieved 2006-09-25. 
  3. ^ Ken Fisher, 100 Minds That Made the Market, Wiley, 2007, pages 129-132.
  4. ^ John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash, 1929 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997, page 84.
  5. ^ Neil A. Costa. "Dr. Alan H. Andrews - Market Master". 
  6. ^ US patent 1,731,839
  7. ^ Jon Mooallem (2007, October). A curious attraction. Harper's Magazine, 315(1889), pp. 84-91.
  8. ^ Eric Bickernicks. "The Babson Boulders". Eric Bickernicks. Retrieved 2006-09-25. : Photos of boulders, downloadable PDF map of boulders with GPS coordinates, image of Roger Babson
  9. ^ "The Babson Boulders at Dogtown". Cape Ann Web. Retrieved 2006-09-25. 
  • Actions and Reactions, autobiography by Roger W. Babson

External links

  • Works by Roger Babson at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Roger Babson at Internet Archive
  • Works by Roger Babson at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • biographies of several Babsons including Roger Babson
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