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Julia Allen Papers



Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Biographical and Personal Correspondence

Social and Political Activities


China Mission Print Materials

Travel Diaries, Notes, and Other

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Julia Allen Papers | Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

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Collection Overview

Title: Julia Allen PapersAdd to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1935-1939

ID: RG 09/9.01

Primary Creator: Allen, Julia

Extent: 4.0 MS boxes

Arrangement: Arrangement of the collection is in series as follows: Series 1: Biographical and Personal; Series: Social and Political Activities; Series 3: Speeches; Series 4: China Mission Print Materials and Correspondence; and Series 5: Travel Diaries, Notebooks, Printed Items, and Other

Subjects: Berea, (Ky.), Berea College -- Dean of Women, Berea College -- Faculty, Berea College -- History, Civil rights -- United States -- History., Southern Tenant Farmers' Union., Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A. -- History

Languages: English


Julia Allen (1896-1974) was recruited to Berea College in 1932 as Assistant Dean of Women to succeed Katherine Bowersox, who had been Dean of Women since 1907. A Kentucky native, Allen studied at both Mt. Holyoke and the University of Chicago. Allen also had worked in a factory, tutored Italian children in Chicago, and directed YWCA summer camps. For five years she had taught Chinese girls at a mission school in Nanking. Her genuine interest in the students, her humor, intellect, and strong commitment to social justice made her influential in Berea for over forty years.

Allen, in addition to being Dean of Women, was a housemother to the students in Hunting Hall (a male residence hall). She loved the outdoors, and frequently took groups of students, both men and women, on nature walks, hikes, and camping expeditions. During her tenure she encouraged women students to govern themselves within the dormitory system.  She worked with the YWCA on campus and beyond, and was active in the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  After retiring from the Dean’s office (1959), she continued to teach part-time in the history department, introducing the first non-western courses taught at the college. After her second retirement, she taught for another semester at Tougaloo Southern Christian College in Mississippi and accepted a post on the National Board of the YWCA.

A Christian social activist, Allen endeavored to fight prejudice, war, and poverty throughout her career. At one point she ran for office on the Socialist ticket. One of her most daring exploits occurred in 1938, when she led an integrated team of six students from different colleges (including one from Berea) to Arkansas to survey the living conditions of members of the Southern Farmers Tenant Union. The team stayed in the homes of union members and joined in union rallies and church services. Allen integrated a professional society of Deans of Women in Kentucky while she was President in 1940-41, and made sure that when the regional YWCA met on the Berea College campus it was an integrated gathering. After her retirement she recruited alumni to protest Berea’s failure to host civil rights volunteers in 1964.

In 1970 Centre College honored her as a distinguished alumna.  Her health deteriorated over the next few years and she died on January 23, 1974.  At news of her death, many people whose lives she touched wrote letters of condolence to Dorothy Tredennick (Berea 1946) the Berea professor with whom Julia resided.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains records and materials outlining Julia Allen’s contributions to Berea College, her wide circle of friends, and her engagement with social causes.  The collection contains clippings, correspondence, notes, and scholarly papers.

Collection Historical Note

Dean of Women, Upper Division (1939-1948); Dean of Women, College (1948-1959)

Subject/Index Terms

Berea, (Ky.)
Berea College -- Dean of Women
Berea College -- Faculty
Berea College -- History
Civil rights -- United States -- History.
Southern Tenant Farmers' Union.
Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A. -- History

Administrative Information

Repository: Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

Access Restrictions: Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Use Restrictions: Federal copyright regulations apply.  Cite all information.  Some items may be restricted if they contain personal information.

Preferred Citation: [Item/Folder/Box Identification], RG 09/9.01: Julia Allen Papers, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Berea, Ky.

Processing Information: Additional processing of materials, with the inclusion of four additional boxes of materials, took place in 2016.  The finding aid was updated at that time with the rearrangement and addition of series. (Lori Myers-Steele, Collections Archivist)

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Biographical and Personal Correspondence],
[Series 2: Social and Political Activities],
[Series 3: Speeches],
[Series 4: China Mission Print Materials],
[Series 5: Travel Diaries, Notes, and Other],

Series 1: Biographical and Personal CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
Clippings and correspondence in this series describe the personal qualities and public achievements for which Allen was honored in her lifetime and at her death. Her career and some of her activities are documented through Berea College records, and her wide personal acquaintance is evident in the correspondence.  Included in this series are two papers, by historian Carolyn Terry Bashaw, placing Allen’s actions as a Southern woman opposing segregation in the context of the actions of other white liberals prior to the Civil Rights movement.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Clippings and Articles about AllenAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Biographical Information and PhotographsAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Information regarding the Julia Allen Fund, 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Letters to/from Julia AllenAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Letters, Correspondence, OtherAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Christmas cards and letters, death noticesAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Master's Dissertation; University of Chicago, 1929Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Allen's WillAdd to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Letter's following the death of Allen, 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 2: One Kind of Pioneer: Julia F. Allen and the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union College Student Project, 1938; by Carolyn Terry Bashaw; with research noteAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: The Witness We Tried to Make: Julia F. Allen and Racial Justice at Berea College, 1935-1974, by Carolyn Terry BashawAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: And I Was There- brief YWCA memoirs, 1953-1954, including one by Allen.Add to your cart.
Folder 5: The First Annual Women's Day: The Hunting Hall Awards, April 22, 1965Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Print materials on various subjectsAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Biographical and Personal Correspondence],
[Series 2: Social and Political Activities],
[Series 3: Speeches],
[Series 4: China Mission Print Materials],
[Series 5: Travel Diaries, Notes, and Other],

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