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Julia Allen Papers

Collection Overview

Title: Julia Allen Papers

Predominant Dates:1935-1939

ID: RG 09/9.01

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

Languages: English [eng]


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.

Administrative Information

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

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.
Series 2: Social and Political ActivitiesAdd to your cart.
Documents in this series record Allen’s support of integration, voting rights, unions, and pacifism. Early in her career she led an integrated team of students to survey conditions in Arkansas as guests of the Southern Farmers Tenant Union. The students were able to document a paucity of health care and decent housing, the context of racial prejudice, and the resilience and solidarity of the union members. When President Francis Hutchins refused Berea’s campus as a training base for college students who intended to do voter registration in Mississippi in the summer of 1964, Julia Allen sent a copy of the Courier Journal’s report of his decision to a long list of Berea alumni, with a request that they write to President Hutchins in protest.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Correspondence re: Southern Conference for Human WelfareAdd to your cart.
Efforts to eliminate the poll tax, other
Folder 8: Correspondence re: Southern Farmers Tenant Union Student Project, 1938-1939Add to your cart.
Folder 8B: Berea Committee on Human Rights, 1961-1964Add to your cart.
Correspondence, notes, clippings
Folder 9: Letters protesting Berea College's cancellation of a program for voter registration volunteers, 1964Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Letters re: Thomas Rodd, a Vietnam-era conscientious objector who attended Berea CollegeAdd to your cart.
Series 3: SpeechesAdd to your cart.
Julia Allen said she could talk about issues better than she could write about them.  Yet several speeches in this series were written out and typed, so they may have been more than ordinarily important to her. Her talks for the YWCA, however, were organized in detail on note cards.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Presentation to the General Faculty: Some Industrial Trends in Our Region, 1940Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Various talks and speeches within the Berea Community between 1939 and 1969.Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Handwritten notes for speeches, primarily for the YWCA.Add to your cart.
Series 4: China Mission Print MaterialsAdd to your cart.
Print materials, including newsletters, from the 1930s through the 1960s of the United Christian Missionary Society.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 1: China Mission News Letter, Mission News, Booklet, 1939 - 1963Add to your cart.
Folder 2: China MissionAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: China MissionAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: NanKung: Correspondence, 1927Add to your cart.
Series 5: Travel Diaries, Notes, and OtherAdd to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Item 1: Small Booklet: Thus Spake Sri RamakrishnaAdd to your cart.
Item 2: Notes and other from Poland/ Czech Trip 1963Add to your cart.
Item 3: Contents of small black notebook: notes on books, otherAdd to your cart.
Item 4: Handmade book to Julia Allen from Rising Fawn Georgia; Charles, Rubynelle, Craig and Clair Counts, 1971Add to your cart.
Item 5: Small DiaryAdd to your cart.
Item 6: New TestamentAdd to your cart.
Item 7: Envelope of papers and notes, 1965-1966Add to your cart.
Item 8: Travel Diary, Asia, 1965 - 1966Add to your cart.
Item 9: Notebook: China, Russia, ParisAdd to your cart.
Item 10: Travel IdentificationAdd to your cart.
Item 11: Contents of small black notebookAdd to your cart.
Item 12: Diary, 1952Add to your cart.
Item 13: Bag of EphemeraAdd to your cart.
Box 5Add to your cart.
Item 1: Travel Diary:  Europe 1957 (Events and Place)Add to your cart.
Item 2: Travel Diary 1926 (Asia)Add to your cart.
Item 3: Mount Holyoke College Yearbook, 1920Add to your cart.
Item 4: Kentucky College for Women (Danville), Yearbook, 1916Add to your cart.
Item 5: Booklet/ pages of quotesAdd to your cart.
Item 6: Travel Diary: Europe 1957 / Book 1Add to your cart.
Item 7: Travel Diary: Europe 1957 / Book 2Add to your cart.
Item 8: Notebook, 1965Add to your cart.
Item 9: Travel Diary: Europe 1957 / Book 4/CommentsAdd to your cart.
Item 10: Travel Diary: 1965 Volume 2Add to your cart.
Item 11: Travel Diary: 1965 Volume 1Add to your cart.
Item 12: Travel Diary: Europe 1957 / Book 3Add to your cart.