Joseph Park Babcock

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Joseph Park Babcock (1893 – 1949), American popularizer of Mahjong, was born in Lafayette, Indiana. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in Civil Engineering, he worked for the Standard Oil Company. In 1912 he was sent to Soochow, China, as a representative of Standard Oil. There he and his wife enjoyed playing the Chinese tile game. He created a simplified version of Mahjong with a goal of introducing the game to America. He trademarked the spelling "Mah-Jongg" which he apparently coined. His Rules of Mah-Jongg, or the red book, (1920) was used as a rule book for English language players.[1]

The game quickly became popular, but several versions were played. In 1924, the Standardization Committee of the American Official Laws of Mah-Jongg was formed. Babcock was an integral member, and the committee published a standardized rule set. Many game sets were then produced in the United States by several companies.

Babcock died in New York City of a heart attack in 1949.[2]


  1. ^ Kovel, Terry (January 1, 2012). "Antiques: Figurines of 18th, 19th centuries". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved November 30, 2012. Joseph Park Babcock, a Standard Oil Co. civil engineer, often is credited with bringing the game to the United States after he saw it being played when he was sent to Suzhou, China, in 1912...Babcock trademarked the name "Mah-Jongg" and published a book of game rules in 1920.
  2. ^ "Joseph Park Babcock Obit". The News-Herald. 20 June 1949. p. 2.