"B" is for Babcock, James Woods (1856-1922)

Feb 16, 2021

Credit SC Public Radio

"B" is for Babcock, James Woods (1856-1922). Psychiatrist, mental hospital superintendent. A native of Chester, Babcock was educated at Harvard and studied mental diseases in Europe. In 1891 he became superintendent of the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum in Columbia. He arrived eager to modernize and improve the institution, but insufficient state funding was a perennial problem. Part of the problem was Babcock’s personality. He did, however, get the legislature to change the institution’s name to South Carolina State Hospital for the Insane. Babcock’s most significant contribution to medicine was his work on pellagra, a deadly niacin-deficiency disease that afflicted many southerners that often led to depression and mania. In 1907 James Woods Babcock diagnosed several cases of pellagra at the hospital, becoming one of the first physicians to report the disease in the United States.