1813-1998; bulk: 1840-1940
Guide to the Collection
Representative digitized documents from this collection:
Restrictions on Access
Portions of this collection are available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Where available, use of the originals is restricted.
This collection consists of the papers of the Allen family of West Newton, Mass., primarily those of educator Nathaniel Allen; his wife, Caroline Bassett Allen; and their daughters Fannie Bassett Allen, Sarah Allen Cooney, and Lucy Ellis Allen. Also included are the records of organizations affiliated with the Allen family: the Model Dept. of the State Normal School at West Newton; the West Newton English and Classical School and its Alumni Association; and the Misses Allen School.
Nathaniel Topliff Allen was born in Medfield, Mass. on 29 Sept. 1823, the son of Ellis Allen (1792-1875) and Lucy Lane (1793-1889) and the brother of William C. Allen (1815-1909), George E. Allen (1817-1888), Joseph A. Allen (1819-1904), Lucy Allen Davis (1821-1900), Fanny Lane Allen (1825-1831), Abby Allen Davis (1828-1896), and James T. Allen (1831-1900). He attended public schools in Medfield and Waltham, the school of his uncle, Joseph Allen, in Northboro, and the Northfield Academy. Having chosen teaching as a profession, he graduated from Bridgewater State Normal School in 1846 and continued his studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.
In addition to his studies, Nathaniel worked at the Waltham Cotton Mill during part of the year from the ages of 10 through 13, and worked on farms in the summer. His early teaching positions included schools in Mansfield (1842-1843), Northboro (1843-1844 and 1847-1848), Northfield (1844-1846), and Shrewsbury (1846-1847). In 1848, Horace Mann appointed Nathaniel as principal of the Model Dept. of the State Normal School at West Newton, a position he held until the school relocated to Framingham in 1853. He served as principal of the West Newton English and Classical School (familiarly known as "the Allen School") from 1854 until his retirement in 1900. He also spent 1869 to 1871 in Europe as an agent for the U.S. Commissioner of Education, publishing a report on German secondary schools and educational systems. A progressive reformer, Nathaniel was active in the anti-slavery movement, the Underground Railroad, woman's suffrage, temperance, and the education of women and African Americans. He served as an officer of the American Peace Society and the Society of Garrison Abolitionists; president of the West Newton Anti-Slavery Society; president of the Newton Woman Suffrage League; and a member of the Unitarian Club of Boston. He was also the first president of the board of directors of the Pomroy Home for Orphans in Newton, a position he held for thirty years.
Nathaniel married Caroline Swift Bassett on 30 March 1853, and the couple lived in West Newton with their four children, Fanny Bassett Allen (1857-1913), Sarah Caroline Allen Cooney (1861-1897), Nathaniel Topliff Allen (1864-1865), and Lucy Ellis Allen (1867-1943). He died in August 1903 at the family's summer home in Linekin, Maine.
Caroline "Carrie" Swift Bassett Allen was born on Nantucket on 16 Oct. 1830, the daughter of James Nye Bassett (1801-1884) and Rebecca Fessenden Freeman (1805-1839). After graduating from Nantucket High School, Carrie attended the State Normal School at West Newton in 1849, studying under Cyrus Peirce. Here she met her future husband, Nathaniel Allen, who was principal of the Normal School's Model Dept. After teaching in Nantucket from 1849 to 1852, she married Nathaniel on 30 Mar. 1853. She worked with her husband at the Allen School from 1854 until 1903, creating an enriching home life for hundreds of students who boarded in their home. After Nathaniel's death in 1903, she continued working with students at the Misses Allen School, founded by her daughters Fanny and Lucy. Carrie was active in the woman's suffrage movement and was an advocate for women's educational reform. She co-founded the West Newton Women's Educational Club, was a member of the New England Women's Club of Boston (with Caroline Severance and Julia Ward Howe), and the Browning Clubs of Boston and West Newton. A published essayist, she traveled twice to Europe as well as to the western United States and Cuba. She died on 13 April 1915 in West Newton at the age of 84.
Fanny Bassett Allen was born in West Newton on 21 Feb. 1857, the daughter of Nathaniel Topliff Allen and Caroline Bassett Allen. After beginning her education at the Allen School in 1862, she accompanied her family at the age of twelve on their two-year stay in Europe, where she studied at the Conservatory of Music in Geneva and learned French and German. She later took art classes at the Mass. Institute of Technology with an interest in architecture, but was unable to continue her studies since women were not admitted to the program. Fanny taught French and German at the Allen School from 1878 to 1884 and from 1887 to 1889. In 1904, after her father's death, Fanny and her sister Lucy began their own school, the Misses Allen School for Girls, in their home in West Newton. She founded the Lucy Jackson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Republic in Newton in 1896 and was its regent for nine years. Fanny traveled extensively, making three voyages to Europe, including a 1908 trip to visit her friend Pauline Odescalchi, Princess of Hungary. She died in West Newton on 14 October 1913.
Sarah Caroline Allen Cooney was born in West Newton on 12 Apr. 1861, the daughter of Nathaniel T. Allen and Caroline Bassett Allen. Beginning her education at the Allen School in 1864, she studied in Europe from 1869 to 1871. She initially prepared to study at Vassar, but decided to study kindergarten teaching with her former Allen School instructor Louise Pollock, graduating from the Froebel Normal Kindergarten Institute in Washington D.C. in 1881. From 1881 to 1895 she taught at the Allen School, where she was in charge of the younger boys housed separately at the Annex. Sarah married attorney Patrick Henry Cooney (1845-1916), a former Allen School student, on 12 Sept. 1895 and the couple settled in Natick. She became active in the Leonard Morse Hospital, the Women's League, the Lucy Jackson Chapter of the D.A.R. (founded by her sister Fanny), and the Woman Suffrage Association. Discovering the lack of a Unitarian Society in Natick, she organized Unitarian ministers to give sermons at her home, and later at the Universalist Church and the Red Men's Hall. After her death in childbirth on 4 November 1897, the Sarah Allen Cooney Memorial Committee built a church in Natick in her honor, dedicated in Jan. 1903 by Edward Everett Hale and Samuel A. Eliot. Sarah was briefly survived by a daughter, Sarah Caroline Cooney, who died two days after her mother.
Lucy Ellis Allen was born in West Newton on 3 May 1867, the daughter of Nathaniel T. Allen and Caroline Bassett Allen. She traveled to Europe with her family from 1869 to 1871, attending kindergarten classes in Germany. She began her studies at the Allen School in 1872 and received her A.B. from Smith College in 1889. Lucy taught at the Allen School from 1889 until her father's retirement in 1900. In 1904, she founded the Misses Allen School for Girls with her sister Fanny in the family's West Newton home, serving as its principal until about 1942. Lucy was the fifth regent of the Lucy Jackson Chapter of the D.A.R., vice-president and director of the Boston College Club, an officer of the Woman Suffrage Association and the Twentieth Century Club, and secretary of her Smith College class. Lucy traveled widely throughout the United States, made over twenty trips to Europe, and toured Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Middle East. She lectured throughout Massachusetts on education, travel, and social welfare, and wrote numerous historical essays. Her companion, Ruby Margaret Keefer, was a Radcliffe graduate who taught with Lucy at the Misses Allen School and shared her home from 1917 until Lucy's death in Nov. 1943.
Edwin and Gustaf Nielsen were the sons of Lars Nielsen (b. 1843) and Thora Engebredson Nielsen (1857-1897), Norwegians who emigrated to the Isles of Shoals near Portsmouth, N.H., and later Churchs Ferry, N.D. The couple had five children: Edwin Bjorne (1876-1958); a son (1879-1894); Olaf (ca. 1880-1903); a daughter (1885-1981); and Gustaf Arnold (1888-1960). By 1894, Lars had died and Thora was living in the Episcopal Church Home in Boston with her daughter and Gustaf. Shortly thereafter, Thora moved back to Churchs Ferry and remarried, leaving her youngest two children at the home. Her daughter was adopted by Moritz and Josephine Richter of Portsmouth who renamed her Ellnora. Since Edwin was currently a student at the West Newton English and Classical School, Thora begged the Allen family to take in Gustaf, her youngest son. Both boys became an integral part of the Allen family, described in Caroline Allen's 1915 obituary as "two former wards, now as sons to the family."
Edwin Bjorne Nielsen was born on the Isles of Shoals on 24 Sept. 1876. He attended the Allen School from 1890 to 1895 and received a degree from Harvard Medical School in 1899. Traveling to Great Britain in 1900 and 1901 to learn medical procedures in British hospitals and clinics, he returned to open his medical practice in Boston. Edwin served as a private in Company D, First Corps of Cadets in the Mass. Volunteer Militia in 1905 and 1906, and during World War I, served as a major and surgeon with the 101st Engineer Battalion of the U. S. National Guard. On 7 July 1917 he married Lucia Amalia Schueg, a member of the Bacardi family of Cuba and a former Misses Allen School student. The couple had four children: Edwin Henry Nielsen; Henry Louis Nielsen; Joan Nielsen; and Janet Nielsen. Edwin died at his home in Brookline on 3 July 1958.
Gustaf Arnold Nielsen was born on 26 Dec. 1888 in Churchs Ferry, N.D. In 1894 and 1895, he lived with his mother in the Episcopal Church Home in Boston. After his mother returned to North Dakota, the poet Celia Thaxter, an acquaintance of his mother's, implored the Allen family to adopt Gustaf. Although he was never formally adopted, Gustaf became the Allens' ward and Nathaniel Allen's godson. After attending the Allen School, Gustaf studied at the Harvard School of Agriculture and Horticulture from 1904 to 1905; Massachusetts Agricultural College (then part of Boston University) from 1907 to 1911; and the Harvard Graduate School of Applied Science from 1911to 1912, specializing in forestry and botany. During World War I, Gustaf served in the 2nd Co., 17th Provisional Training Regiment in November 1917, and became a 2nd lieutenant in the Aviation Section of the Signal Officers Reserve Corps in March 1918. After the war, he traveled to Alaska and San Francisco on forestry assignments. He died on 24 August 1960 in Vancouver, Washington.
Model Dept. of the State Normal School at West Newton (Model School)
Due largely to the institutional reforms of Horace Mann, the first secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, the first normal school in North America opened in Lexington, Mass. in 1839 with Charles Peirce as its principal. Designed for the education of teachers, it moved to West Newton in 1844 when financial help from Josiah Quincy enabled Mann to purchase the old Fuller Academy. The Model Dept., more commonly known as the "Model School," was created to allow student teachers to practice their new educational techniques on children of the West Newton school district. In 1848, Mann appointed 25-year-old Nathaniel Allen as principal of the Model School. He was assisted by the Normal School students, who each spent three weeks teaching Model School children under his direction. Due to its popularity and national attention, the State Normal School at West Newton was forced to expand and relocate to Framingham in 1853, later becoming Framingham State Teacher's College and, in 2010, Framingham State University.
West Newton English and Classical School (Allen School)
When the State Normal School at West Newton moved to Framingham, Horace Mann encouraged Nathaniel Allen to remain in West Newton, and with the assistance of educator Charles Peirce, open his own private school in the old normal school building. The West Newton English and Classical School, familiarly known as the "Allen School," opened in 1854 with 38 students, but quickly grew. Three of Allen's brothers, and later his three daughters, an uncle, nieces, and cousins, taught at the school and provided homes for the boarding students. The socially progressive school conducted co-educational classes, enrolled African American students, and was one of the first to include physical education as part of its curriculum. In addition to their academic studies, students attended classes in ethics, dancing, music, and art, and attended lectures given by guests including Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, and Theodore Parker. In 1863, Allen recruited Lucy Pollock from Germany to open one of the first kindergartens in the United States based on the Froebel method.
During its 50-year history, over 5000 students attended the Allen School, representing almost every state in the United States as well as Europe, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Central and South America, Cuba, and Hawaii. In the 1870s, the first Japanese students to study in the United States attended the Allen School, including a nephew of the emperor. African American students included children of several Reconstruction officials including P.B.S. Pinchback and C.C. Antoine of Louisiana, and Robert Smalls of South Carolina.
After 46 years as principal, Allen sold the school in 1900. Moving to a new building in West Newton, it became a boys-only institution in 1904 with Albert E. Bailey as its headmaster. In 1917, Rev. Thomas Chalmers purchased the school and reorganized it as a military preparatory school for boys, operating as the Allen-Chalmers School until about 1922.
The Misses Allen School
In 1904, after the sale of the Allen School and its transformation to an all-boys institution, Fanny Bassett Allen and Lucy Ellis Allen, the daughters of Nathaniel Allen, opened the Misses Allen School for Girls in their family home in West Newton. It later added an annex to accommodate a classroom, as well as an assembly hall. Offering a college preparatory curriculum, the school had a maximum enrollment of forty girls, including ten boarding students. Lucy Allen served as principal, also teaching classes in history, literature, and art. The school was discontinued after Lucy's death in 1943.
An Illustrated Biographical Catalogue of the Principals, Teachers, and Students of the West Newton English and Classical School, West Newton, Massachusetts: 1854-1893. Boston: Rand Avery Printing Co., 1895.
Greene, Mary Anne. Nathaniel T. Allen: Teacher, Reformer, Philanthropist. Privately printed, 1906.
Stanton, Judith. "Nathaniel T. Allen: Social and Educational Activist," Bridgewater Review, 11 (1), 1993.
The Nathaniel T. Allen papers consist of thirty-one document boxes, three card files, ten cased volumes and two oversize folders of manuscripts and printed material spanning the years 1813 to 1998, with the bulk dating from 1840 to 1940. The collection has been divided into four series: Allen family papers; School records; Allen School and House Preservation Corp. records; and Oversize material. Materials in the collection consist of family, personal, and professional correspondence, personal papers, writings, financial and legal records, diaries, scrapbooks, school administrative records, and printed material.
Allen family papers are primarily those of educator Nathaniel Topliff Allen; his wife, Caroline Bassett Allen; and their three daughters Fanny Bassett Allen, Sarah Allen Cooney, and Lucy Ellis Allen. Family correspondence and personal papers reflect the family's deep interest in education and social reform. Of note is Nathaniel Allen's personal correspondence describing his involvement with abolitionism, educational reform, and woman's suffrage, including letters from William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas, Horace Mann, Charles Sumner, Wendell Phillips, and Lucy Stone. Nathaniel Allen's descriptive diaries of his mission to Europe from 1869 to 1871 for the U.S. Commissioner of Education give insight into the German educational system as well as European social and cultural life of the period. Fanny Allen's correspondence, writings, and diaries richly depict her 1908 trip to visit her friend Princess Pauline Odescalchi at her palace in Zsambok, Hungary. Also of note are the writings of Caroline Allen and her daughter Lucy Allen, which reflect their activism in women's education and suffrage. The series also contains the papers of Edwin Bjorne Nielsen and Gustaf Arnold Nielson, wards of the Allen family, and the correspondence of Ruby Margaret Keefer, longtime companion of Lucy Ellis Allen.
School records include those of the Model Department of the State Normal School at West Newton, where Nathaniel Allen taught from 1848 to 1853; the West Newton English and Classical School, familiarly known as the Allen School, where Nathaniel Allen served as principal from 1854 to 1900, teaching alongside his uncle, brothers, cousins, and daughters; and the Misses Allen School for Girls, where Lucy Allen served as principal from 1904 to 1942. Although records for each school are incomplete, they include administrative and financial records, lectures, papers related to school curricula, records of individual students, Lyceum records, advertising circulars, and school catalogs. Of particular interest are Allen School diaries kept by students as part of their class assignments to describe their daily lessons, school activities, and educational progress. Included are the nine diaries of Mary Tileston Lambert, which she kept from 1854 to 1860; the diary of Mary Chisholm, kept from 1864 to 1865; the diaries of Fanny Allen, kept between 1868 and 1873; the diary of Lucy Allen, kept in 1885; and the diaries of Edwin Nielsen, kept from 1893 to 1895. (Fanny, Lucy, and Edwin's diaries can be found in Series I, Allen family papers.) Also in this series are the records of the West Newton English and Classical School Alumni Association, including a comprehensive biographical catalog of the school's students and teachers from 1854 to 1895.
The Allen School and House Preservation Corporation records comprise a small series that documents the efforts to preserve the Allen family home in West Newton as well as the family's papers. Largely the records of director Helen Levy, this material includes correspondence, legal papers, meeting minutes, and research.
Gift of the Allen School and House Preservation Corporation as a condition of sale of the real estate by the corporation to the Newton Cultural Alliance, February-March 2013. Lucy Ellis Allen additions: acquired by purchase, December 2017.
Restrictions on Access
Portions of this collection are available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Where available, use of the originals is restricted.
Portions of this collection are available as color digital facsimiles.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Allen family papers, 1813-1980digital content
This series consists primarily of the papers of Nathaniel Allen, his wife Caroline "Carrie" Bassett Allen, and his daughters, Fanny Bassett Allen, Sarah Allen Cooney, and Lucy Ellis Allen. It contains family correspondence, personal papers, writings, financial papers, diaries, scrapbooks, and memorials. Also included is the personal correspondence of Ruby Keefer, longtime companion of Lucy Ellis Allen; the correspondence and personal papers of Edwin and Gustaf Nielsen, the wards of the Allen family; the writings of Nathaniel Allen's mother, Lucy Lane Allen; and papers of Carrie Allen's sister, Sarah Bassett Wheeler.
A. Family correspondence, 1841-1943
The bulk of early family correspondence of the 1840s and 1850s is written to Nathaniel Allen, including letters from his mother, Lucy Lane Allen; siblings William C. Allen, Joseph A. Allen, George E. Allen, Lucy Allen Davis, and James T. Allen; cousins Edward A. H. Allen, Charles E. Adams, Charles E. Allen and Alfred Allen; and uncle Phineas Allen. Although many letters contain family news and descriptions of daily life, much of their content is related to schools, education, and teaching in Massachusetts, Baltimore, and Syracuse, N.Y. Letters from December 1850 to March 1851, when Nathaniel travels to South Carolina because of his health, include details about activities at the Model School.
Letters from the 1860s through the 1880s are primarily from Nathaniel to his wife and daughters, discussing news of family and friends, school matters, and financial affairs. Other correspondence includes letters from James T. Allen as a student in Bremen, Germany; letters to Fanny discussing her broken engagement in April 1883; correspondence related to the presidential election of 1884; Sarah's letters during her trip to Denver, Utah, and San Francisco in the summer of 1888; letters from Sarah's voyage to Germany, Switzerland, and France in the summer of 1894; Sarah's 1895 engagement and marriage to Patrick Henry Cooney; 1890s correspondence between Nathaniel and his brother Joseph about the family home and property in Medfield; Fanny's letters from Hungary in 1908; and Carrie's correspondence with her sister Sarah Bassett Wheeler in Needham from 1909 to 1911. There is very little family correspondence after Fanny's death in 1913.
Of note is an 11 Feb. 1901 letter from Nathaniel to Fanny and Lucy written in the event that he and Carrie do not return from their trip to Cuba, in which he summarizes his life achievements and values and his hopes for his daughters.
For family correspondence with Edwin and Gustaf Nielsen, see Series I. G. Edwin and Gustaf Nielson papers.
B. Nathaniel T. Allen personal papers, 1841-1909digital content
Allen's papers contain personal correspondence; financial records including account books and receipts; writings; diaries and reminiscences; papers related to Allen's fiftieth wedding anniversary; and papers related to the creation of a memorial window for Allen at the West Newton Unitarian Church. His papers chronicle his long career in education, particularly his time in Europe as he studied the German educational system for the U.S. Department of Education, as well as his activism in educational reform, abolitionism, and woman's suffrage.
For records related specifically to Allen's teaching and his administration of the West Newton English and Classical School, see Series II, School records.
i. Correspondence, 1841-1903digital content
Allen's correspondence largely consists of letters from former classmates, fellow teachers, students, parents of current or prospective students, friends, and acquaintances. Of note is a November 1849 letter from former classmate Charles C. Greene, who writes from California describing his voyage, his work in the gold mines, life in the mining camps, and efforts to form a new state government.
Many letters reflect Allen's active interest in the reform movements of the 1840s and 1850s, including education, abolitionism, and woman's suffrage. Of particular interest are a November 1871 letter from William Lloyd Garrison mentioning the racial integration at Allen's school; a July 1882 letter from Frederick Douglass thanking Allen for his help in the 1840s and reminiscing about the early anti-slavery movement; and a March 1898 letter from William Claflin recalling Allen's involvement in an 1862 Faneuil Hall meeting in which Charles Sumner was physically threatened. Also of note are letters from Horace Mann (1850), Charles Sumner (1873), John Greenleaf Whittier (1878), Lucy Stone (1883, 1888), Booker T. Washington (1892, 1903), Celia Thaxter (1894), and Wendell Phillips (undated).
Correspondence from 1869 to 1871 is related to Allen's trip to Europe to report on the German education system, including letters of introduction from ambassador George Bancroft. Much 1871 correspondence is related to the Allen School reunion, including letters from former students, teachers, and other well-known educators. In a 28 Nov. 1871 letter to Arthur Knapp, Allen describes his view of the significance of his school.
In 1878, Allen's correspondence is related to his efforts to prohibit military drills in public schools, and includes letters of support from William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Rev. A.P. Peabody. Beginning in 1891, the bulk of correspondence concerns his efforts to locate former students for the 1893 reunion and alumni catalog. Many students write to Allen about their later lives, and the impact of Allen and his school. November 1897 letters contain condolences on the death of his daughter Sarah.
ii. Bills and receipts, 1843-1899
The bulk of Allen's bills and receipts date from 1844 to 1850, and include receipts for clothing, dentistry, sheet music, Medfield taxes, books, writing supplies, West Newton rental payments, and newspaper subscriptions. An 1886 statement lists personal assets and liabilities.
See also the Allen School record book 1853-1877 (Series II.C. i), which contains some of Allen's personal accounts.
iii. Writings, 1871-1877
Included are an 1871 speech to Newton teachers about European educational systems and kindergarten programs; a speech entitled “Character” given to the Lancaster Girls' Reform School in 1877; newspaper columns about lotteries, religious education, and tree planting; and other miscellaneous writings.
iv. 50th anniversary papers, 1903
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Papers include congratulatory letters from friends, former students, and associates on Allen's fiftieth wedding anniversary, and replies to the invitation to the anniversary celebration. Many letters contain reminiscences of the couple's life together. Also in this subseries are a list of anniversary gifts, wedding commemorations from the Alumni Association and the Pomroy House, a printed greeting and poem for the occasion, and several newspaper clippings.
v. Nathaniel Allen Memorial papers, 1906-1909
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
As a memorial to Allen and his work in education, friends and family worked to create a memorial window in the West Newton Unitarian Church. Fundraising subscriptions were sought via a printed circular in 1906, and contributions were sent to Alumni Association treasurer Edward C. Burrage. Most letters are fairly concise. A 1909 letter from Burrage to Lucy Allen discusses the completion of the project. Also in this subseries are speeches given by Lucy and Fanny at the dedication of the memorial on 19 April 1908 and newsclippings about the dedication.
vi. Volumes, ca. 1844-1908
See also Allen School record book, 1853-1877 (Series II.C.i.) which contains Allen's yearly memoranda about the school and entries related to his personal life.
Allen's notebook contains handwritten accounting exercises.
This photocopied journal chronicles Allen's term at the state normal school in Bridgewater as a 21-year-old student. It contains his account of daily life and activities with descriptions of lessons in mathematics, grammar, and other subjects. The location of the original is unknown.
This account book was one Allen kept throughout most of his adult life. It contains accounts with each of his children; accounts of the estate of Benjamin J. Lane and the Lane children, who were Allen's wards; the estate of Emma Bridge; his rental property; and several other personal accounts.
Allen's European diary, dating from 2 August 1869 to 24 July 1871, exists in this series in several formats: an original manuscript copy (of which several pages are missing); a secretary's copy dating from August to November 1869; and a transcript with images that illustrate his August 1869 entries. It records his travel to Europe to report on the German educational system as an agent of Henry Barnard, the U.S. Commissioner of Education. Traveling with his wife, daughters, and several students and associates, he writes descriptively of both educational and tourist sites, incorporating etchings of famous places and letters to his students into his journal. The group traveled extensively throughout Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, and Great Britain, recording visits to museums, zoos, concerts, churches, and public gymnasiums. Allen also noted information about the schools he surveyed, including the size of classes, cost of tuition, schedules, curriculum, and educational philosophy, making it a point to visit kindergarten classes that followed the teachings of Madame Froebel. Allen provides insight into the culture and society of the places the family lived, including Dresden (Aug.-Dec. 1869), Berlin (Dec. 1869-Feb. 1870), Wiesbaden (Feb.-May 1870), Zurich (July-Sept. 1870) and Geneva (Jan-April 1871), with shorter stays at Hamburg, Heidelberg, Paris, Munich, Florence, Rome, and London. Of particular interest was his Dec. 1869 meeting with the Chinese ambassador at a banquet given by George Bancroft and his Dec. 1870 interview with Pope Pius IX in Rome.
This photocopied memoranda book essentially served as Allen's trip planner in which he listed places to see, names of hotels, recommended routes, contacts, and other travel tips. Also included are cash accounts and lists of letters received. The location of the original is unknown.
Allen's research notebook contains a brief diary entry explaining the trip's mission and a list of people accompanying him, along with a list of institutions he visited in Edinburgh, Hamburg, Berlin, and Dresden. It includes copies of letters to his students and to Education Commissioner Henry Barnard, a list of questions and their answers about the German educational system, as well as questions and answers in an interview with the Chinese ambassador and a draft of the report to the commissioner.
Allen's 1887 cash book contains lists of family expenses, servants' wages, housekeeping costs, rental property maintenance, charitable giving, and schoolhouse repairs.
This 1892 pocket memo book contains accounts and to-do lists, addresses, and a reflective list of the most courageous moments of Allen's life.
Allen's account book for 1899 to 1903 contains itemized calculations of his net worth; accounts with Albert Bailey and F.M. Wood in relation to the sale of the Allen School; and an account of his poultry business. (The book also contains Lucy Allen's records of the Misses Allen School from 1907 and 1908.)
Allen's two notebooks of reminiscences discuss his family history, childhood, education, and early teaching experiences through 1852, when he took a leave of absence to travel through the southern United States. The last entry is dated 29 July 1903, several days before Allen's death.
Allen was a founder and board president of the Pomroy House, a charitable home for orphan and destitute girls founded in 1872. Its account book lists the names of women who contributed, the amount, and the name of the collector. The account was continued by Allen's daughters after his death.
C. Caroline Bassett Allen papers, 1848-1914
Carrie's papers include personal correspondence, writings, diaries, scrapbooks, and a small amount of financial papers. They are primarily related to her experiences as a student at the State Normal School at West Newton and as a teacher in Nantucket; her daily life as a wife and mother; her partnership with her husband in the West Newton English and Classical School, her advocacy of women's rights, and her travels to Europe and Cuba.
i. Correspondence, 1856-1914
Carrie's pre-1890 correspondence consists of letters from Nantucket friends, former pupils, friends with recommendations for their European trip, and parents of students who boarded with the family. Of interest is an April 1888 letter from an attendee of the first meeting of the International Women's Council, affiliated with the National Woman Suffrage Association, in Washington D.C.
Other correspondence includes 1896 letters related to the preservation of Bullough's Pond in Newtonville, Nov. 1897 correspondence offering sympathy for the death of her daughter Sarah, and correspondence related to her membership in the Browning Society of Boston. A number of letters contain memories or memorials of her husband, including an April 1907 letter from Caroline M. Severance, American abolitionist and suffragist. 1910 correspondence offers 80th birthday congratulations and poems.
ii. Writings, 1859-1907
Carrie's writings include an 1859 description of her trip to the White Mountains; a ca. 1881 essay describing a trip through Canada, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison, Wisc.; newspaper articles about the history of the Pomroy House; writings related to her work with the Newton Federation of Women's Clubs; and a large packet of notes for a speech about the Greeks and the Turks, ca. 1897.
Also included are a manuscript copy and printed edition of Carrie's “Memories of One Home,” published in the Mirror of Newton Past and Present by the Newton Federation of Women's Clubs in 1907. It includes reminiscences of famous friends and neighbors, including Horace Mann, Elizabeth Peabody, A. Bronson Alcott, William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Parker, Booker T. Washington, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, Celia Thaxter, Caroline Dall, Caroline Severance, and prestigious families of many of the Allen School's foreign students. Her narrative also mentions Nathaniel's involvement with abolitionism and their home as part of the underground railroad.
iii. Receipts and ephemera, 1893-1908
Receipts and ephemera include membership cards, invitations, 1908 receipts from Carrie's trip to Europe, European business cards, advertisements, and other ephemera.
iv. Volumes, 1848-1914
Carrie's early diaries describe her experiences as a student at the State Normal School at West Newton, with accounts of her studies, lectures, teachers, and classmates, as well as daily life in West Newton and Nantucket. 1849 to 1851 diaries chronicle her teaching at the Model School and in Nantucket, as well as her courtship by Nathaniel Allen. Her diaries from 1861 to 1876 primarily cover her life as a wife and mother, with accounts of the lives of each of her children, including births, vaccinations, and other childhood milestones. Diaries in this period are small, line-a-day journals with only occasional entries, consisting largely of appointments and household expenses. An October 1873 entry recounts the death of a daughter at birth. Carrie's 1901 travel diary chronicles her trip to Cuba, with particularly vivid descriptions of the people and sites of Trinidad and Santiago.
A scrapbook of loose printed material dating from 1859 to 1905 includes programs from Boston musical and theatre productions, many with annotations; programs from the National Peace Jubilee in 1869; material related to the West Newton Women's Educational Club; and newspaper clippings on a wide range of subjects. Another scrapbook contains hotel and restaurant cards and advertisements from her travels in Europe from 1870 to 1871, along with dated annotations. The 1908 Bon Voyage scrapbook, created for Carrie and Lucy by the Plimpton family, includes a narrative with newsclippings, photos, and ephemera related to their upcoming trip to Europe.
Other volumes include an account book of housekeeping expenses, a notebook with excerpts from the writings of Robert Browning, and a book containing autographs of persons organized by birthdate.
D. Fanny Bassett Allen papers, 1864-1915
Fanny's papers include personal correspondence, writings, diaries, study notebooks, and a privately printed memorial. They illustrate her life as a student at the West Newton English and Classical School and in Germany; her teaching career; her involvement with women's educational reform and the D.A.R.; and her many travels, specifically to Hungary in 1908.
i. Correspondence, 1872-1913
Fanny's correspondence contains a large number of letters from Pauline Odescalchi de Szerem (later de Benicz), Princess of Hungary, who she met in Europe during her 1869-1871 trip. Pauline writes of her sister Ilona's wedding in 1878, and later of her life and home in Zsambok, Hungary. Fanny's correspondence from 1907 to 1913 is almost exclusively with Pauline, in preparation for her 1908 trip to visit Hungary and in the following years.
Other correspondents include former students, several suitors, and friends from around the country and in Europe. A few letters discuss Fanny's engagement and its subsequent cancellation in April 1883. Others relate to Fanny's leadership in the Lucy Jackson chapter of the D.A.R., including a 1906 letter from Julia Ward Howe about speaking to the chapter. Also included in this subseries are a few personal papers, such as French receipts for piano lessons, and an 1876 certificate from the French Normal School in Plymouth, N.H.
For Fanny's correspondence with Edwin Nielsen, see Series I. G., Edwin and Gustaf Nielsen papers.
ii. Writings, 1908
Fanny's writings include a 1908 manuscript essay describing her visit to Pauline Odescalchi, including details of her home, clothing, family life, and customs in Zsambok, as well as the Hungarian countryside and the city of Budapest. Her ca. 1905 report on a D.A.R. convention in Washington, D.C. describes the convention, reception, and fellow delegates. Undated writings include essays about the formation of Newton's Lucy Jackson Chapter of the D.A.R., Egyptian and European history, and art.
iii. Memorial, ca. 1915
Fanny's memorial, privately published about 1915, was written by her friend and classmate, Mary A. Greene.
iv. Volumes, ca. 1864-1908
Four of the volumes in this series are the diaries Fanny kept as a student at the Allen School, in which students were required to keep a record of their daily activities, school lessons, lectures, weather, and social events. Her earliest student diary was written at the age of 11 beginning in April 1868, and includes a list of students boarding with her family. Similar diaries cover periods from September 1871 through July 1873. 1872 entries include descriptions of the World Peace Jubilee, a temperance convention in Newton (12 June), and the presidential election.
Several volumes reflect Fanny's travels to Europe with her family and her schooling in Germany. A diary with entries written from Dresden in September through November 1869 and from Berlin in December 1869 through January 1870 describes school and family activities as well as her cultural and tourist experiences as she and her family explore the region. An 1870 autograph album contains the signatures and sentiments of her classmates in Germany. Fanny's 1870 study notebook contains handwriting lessons, poetry, French and German dictation, mathematics exercises, and a hand-drawn map of Switzerland.
Later diaries describe family life, social activities, and her work as a teacher, including page-a-day diaries from 1877 and 1879. Fanny's 1891 travel diary contains brief entries describing her trip to England, France, and Italy. A July 1908 travel diary chronicles her trip to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Austria, and Hungary, particularly her visit to Zsambok, Hungary to visit her friend Pauline Odescalchi.
Other volumes include childhood study notebooks for arithmetic and natural history, a small book listing personal expenses in 1874, and an undated visiting list with names and dates of individuals received.
E. Sarah Allen Cooney papers, 1871-1903
Included in this subseries are Sarah's personal papers, writings, study notebooks, a travel diary, and a collection of paper art. They reflect her life as a student in West Newton and Germany and her career as a teacher, as well as her interests in women's clubs, woman's suffrage, and Unitarianism. Also included are papers related to Sarah's death in childbirth in 1897 at the age of 36, including excerpts from letters of condolence, tributes and memorials, and materials describing the dedication of a Unitarian chapel in her honor in 1903.
i. Personal papers, 1871-1897
Sarah's school papers include an 1871 hand-drawn map of Switzerland, 1872 and 1878 Allen School report cards, and a certificate from Louise Pollock's kindergarten teaching class in Washington, D.C. Travel papers relate to her 1893 trip to California and the western United States. Additional papers pertain to Sarah's efforts to establish a Unitarian congregation in Natick, where she lived after marrying Patrick Cooney, including a small scrapbook of newsclippings about Unitarian services held in Natick, January 1897 meeting minutes, and correspondence.
For papers related to the custody of Gustaf Nielsen, see Series I. G., Edwin and Gustaf Nielsen papers.
ii. Writings, 1889-ca. 1893
Sarah's writings include a manuscript essay about her travels to Yellowstone National Park in 1889, a manuscript about her trip to the Chicago World's Fair and the western United States in 1893, an undated manuscript about engravings, and other educational essays.
iii. Paper art, bef. 1897
A collection of paper art created by Sarah consists of punched-paper designs and three scrapbooks of artwork entitled “Paper Folding,” “Paper Entwining,” and “Paper Cutting.”
iv. Papers related to Sarah's death, 1897-1903
Papers related to Sarah's death include a list of persons who sent condolences; a series of notebooks filled with excerpts from letters and reminiscences of Sarah; and tributes from organizations with which she was affiliated. Also in this subseries is a memorial essay written by a former student and printed materials related to the January 1903 dedication of the Sarah Allen Cooney Memorial Church in Natick, including dedication programs and newsclippings.
See also Series IV, Oversize material, for additional newspaper clippings.
ii. Volumes, 1879-1894
Volumes in this subseries include three school mathematics notebooks containing copies of problems and solutions. A travel diary/scrapbook contains of a brief essay describing memories of Sarah's earliest years as well as descriptions of four summer trips. Entries about her trip to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota include maps and illustrations with detailed descriptions of her visits to industrial areas, historic forts, and growing cities in 1884. The volume also includes descriptions of her trip to the Berkshires in 1883 and to St. John, New Brunswick, in 1885, as well as a very detailed and illustrated chronicle of her 1888 trip to California and Yellowstone.
An 1894 notebook entitled “Children's Remarks” contains amusing anecdotes of the boys that lived under her charge at the “Annex,” a boarding house for younger Allen School students. An undated study notebook was most likely used as a teaching aid by Sarah. It contains notes on English literature and European languages.
F. Lucy Ellis Allen papers, 1879-1973
Lucy's papers include personal correspondence, legal and financial papers, writings, diaries, reminiscences, and scrapbooks that reflect her life as a student at the West Newton English and Classical School, a teacher and administrator at the Misses Allen School, an advocate for women's educational reform, and a world traveler. Also included is the correspondence of Ruby Margaret Keefer, Lucy's companion of 26 years.
i. Correspondence, 1892-1943
Lucy's early correspondence, from 1892 to 1901, includes letters from friends, former classmates, and students discussing social events, mutual acquaintances, and travel. These include letters from Allen School students Carlos Yznaga and Jose Montoya in Cuba.
1908 and 1909 letters from Lucy to Alumni Association president Eugene Fay discuss their efforts to track down Allen School alumni. A portion of her 1909 and 1910 correspondence is related to her leadership in the fundraising and design for a memorial window honoring minister Francis Tiffany at the West Newton Unitarian Church.
Later correspondence includes a small amount of financial and legal correspondence, 1920s postcards from friends traveling overseas, letters from former students, and letters related to alumni records. 1938 correspondence includes revisions to her will.
For Lucy's professional correspondence as principal of the Misses Allen School, see Series II.D.i, Misses Allen School administrative records. For Lucy's letters to her Smith College classmates, see Series I.F.vi, Additions.
ii. Personal papers, 1895-1943
Included are financial papers related to Lucy's 1910 trip to Europe, probate letters for the estates of Fanny Allen (1913) and Caroline Allen (1915), papers related to Lucy's service as a delegate to the 1923 Conference on World Welfare in Washington, D.C., her 1925 passport, 1936 fire insurance policies, copies of Lucy's will, and a set of undated merit cards presented to Lucy by her Allen School teachers.
See also Series I. F. vi, Additions.
iii. Writings, 1894-1930
Lucy's writings include lecture notes; a 1901 pamphlet about the Journey Club; a privately printed 1926 essay, Memories of My Home, which borrowed liberally from her mother's essay Memories of One Home; the privately printed The Allens in Education; and manuscript copies of essays “Elder Brewster” (1930), and “The Rebecca Pomroy Newton Home for Orphan Girls” (undated).
Lucy's “Forty Years a' Teaching” notebook, written about 1933, contains an autobiographical essay discussing her childhood; her family's trip to Europe from 1869 to 1871; her memories of the Allen School, West Newton, and Linekin, Maine; her Unitarian upbringing; famous people that she met as a child; her college days; and her travel experiences up to 1904. The back of the volume contains a 1933 essay, “Woman and her Wider Vision,” in which Lucy discusses the lives of Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, Louisa Alcott; education for women including normal schools, women's colleges, and opportunities for continuing education; women's philanthropy; and early women doctors, scientists, and artists.
See also Series I. F. vi, Additions.
iv. Volumes, 1879-1939
Lucy's Allen School diary, written from January through September 1885, contains entries discussing personal and school activities, with several teacher's corrections and annotations. Six diaries, spanning September 1885 through July 1888, chronicle Lucy's years at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. She records personal, social, and school activities, listing letters written and received. Of note is the 29 May 1886 entry which mentions Mark Twain reading at Smith. She also describes her July 1886 trip to Houghton, Michigan and her journey through Cleveland, Detroit, and New York State to Niagara Falls.
Four travel diaries record some of Lucy's many trips to Europe. A small 1894 page-a-day diary contains the description of her trip to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and England. A 1900 travel diary contains details of her trip to Italy, where she saw Pope Leo XIII at the Vatican, as well as descriptions of artistic and historical sites in Germany, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, and Scotland. A 1908 volume contains memos of places Lucy visited and money she spent in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and England. Her 1912 travel diary includes descriptions of the Azores, Algeria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, England, Scotland, and Quebec.
Three “Bon Voyage” scrapbooks, created by Frances A. Plimpton for Lucy, contain newspaper and magazine clippings, ephemera, and brief narratives related to Lucy's trips of 1912, 1927, and 1939. Also in this subseries are an 1879 autograph album, two address books, an 1891 appointment book, and a 1939 household memo book containing notes about telephone calls, visitors, and household accounts.
v. Ruby Keefer correspondence, 1922-1973
Ruby Margaret Keefer (1887-1975) became a teacher at the Misses Allen School for Girls in 1917, and shortly thereafter shared Lucy's home at 35 Webster Street in West Newton. The couple traveled extensively, living together until Lucy's death in 1943. Lucy's will allowed Ruby (known to her friends as “Kay”) to remain in the home until her death in 1975.
Ruby's early correspondence is primarily with friends while she traveled to Europe with Lucy in the 1920s through the 1940s. Of note is a July 1925 letter from author Rachel Field, who describes her meeting with actress Maude Adams. Many letters are from her sister Sophia Keefer Hoaglin, who writes from her home in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa about family matters.
The bulk of Ruby's correspondence dates from 1943, including letters related to Lucy's physical and financial care, and condolences upon Lucy's death in November. Later correspondence includes that related to legal and financial matters as well as letters from her nieces and nephews.
vi. Additions, 1911-1933
Arranged chronologically by record type.
Additions to this collection were acquired by purchase in Dec. 2017. They include Lucy's letters to her Smith College classmates summarizing her thoughts and yearly activities beginning in 1911 and written yearly from 1923 to 1930. Personal papers include Lucy's 1929 and 1933 passports, an undated European travel schedule, and undated printed flyers related to Lucy's travel talks and educational lectures. Writings include eight of Lucy's undated mauscript essays.
Writings, 1930, n.d.
G. Edwin and Gustaf Nielsen papers, 1893-1947
This subseries contains the papers of Edwin and Gustaf Nielsen, wards and unofficially adopted sons of Nathaniel and Carrie Allen. It includes the brothers' correspondence with the Allen family and their Norwegian family in North Dakota, correspondence related to the Allens' custody of Gustaf, papers that reflect their military service during World War I, Edwin's Allen School diaries, and Gustaf's 1913 diary of a hunting trip in Alberta, Canada.
i. Correspondence, 1894-1922
Early letters chronicle the attempts of Sarah Allen and her parents to assume custody of Gustaf, including an April 1894 letter from writer Celia Thaxter about finding a foster home for 5-year-old Gustaf; a series of letters from Thora Nielsen, mother of Edwin and Gustaf, about her family's misfortune and her gratitude to the Allens for taking Gustaf; and letters from trustees of the Episcopal Children's Home in South Boston disputing the custody arrangements.
Also included are a series of letters to Fanny from Edwin in Montpelier, Vt. in 1894, and in 1895 when he begins to search for colleges or medical schools. A September 1897 letter from an uncle in North Dakota informs Edwin of his mother's death. Edwin's letters to the Allen family from Sept. 1900 to Jan. 1901 chronicle his trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland, touring hospitals and receiving medical training in Dublin. A Feb. 1901 letter to Gustaf from his older brother Olaf describes his life at the University of North Dakota and family news.
Also of note are 1908 letters to Edwin from Fanny in Hungary, two letters from Edwin to Gustaf related to their World War I military service in 1917 and 1918, and a series of descriptive letters to Lucy from Gustaf as he settles in San Francisco in 1921 and 1922.
ii. Edwin Nielsen papers, 1893-1947
Edwin's papers include two Allen School diaries, dating from January to October 1893 and December 1894 to June 1895. Prepared as a school assignment, the diaries chronicle Edwin's lessons as well as daily life, including his teacher's corrections on spelling and grammar, his class schedules, and a weather chart. Other papers include a 1907 membership book for the Norwegian Society of Boston, sheet music from a college musical, his discharge from the Massachusetts Militia in 1906, and papers related to the estate of Caroline Little, for whom he served as executor.
iii. Gustaf Nielsen papers, 1894-1918
Included are Gustaf's term reports from the Allen School for 1894 to 1899; a 1902 autograph album (blank except for greetings from Nathaniel and Carrie Allen); and a diary of a hunting trip on the Smoky River in Alberta, Canada from September 1913 to January 1914. Other papers include membership certificates, military papers, and miscellaneous financial documents.
For Gustaf's August 1917 certificate of completion at Harvard's Military Instruction Camp and his March 1918 appointment as 2nd lieutenant in the aviation section of the Army's Signal Officer's Reserve Corp., see Oversize Material.
H. Family and genealogical papers, 1813-1980
Included in this subseries are the writings of Nathaniel Allen's mother, Lucy Lane Allen; the papers of Carrie Bassett Allen's sister, Sarah Bassett Wheeler; genealogical records pertaining to the Allens and related families; a series of autograph collections; and miscellaneous family papers.
i. Autograph collections, 1851-1893
Included are several autograph collections, one containing loose papers that include the signatures of Horace Mann, Alexander Humboldt, Lydia Maria Child, Charles Sumner, Alice Stone Blackwell, and others. Also included is an 1861-63 autograph book containing signatures of Allen School students; an 1883 autograph album compiled by Nathaniel Allen's mother, Lucy Lane Allen; and a book of autographs collected at Allen family gatherings in 1885, 1895, and 1901.
ii. Sarah Bassett Wheeler papers, 1857-1908
The papers of Sarah Bassett Wheeler, the sister of Carrie Allen, include an 1857 line-a-day pocket diary recording daily life, family matters, and school activities. Also included are a series of receipts for clothing and repairs for an artificial limb in 1907 and 1908.
iii. Genealogical papers, 1869-1923
This subseries includes published copies of Genealogical Sketches of the Allen Family (1869), Genealogy of Samuel Allen of Windsor, Conn. (1887), and Genealogical and Historical Sketches of the Allen Family (1896). Also included are photocopies of death certificates for various Allen family members, a notebook of genealogical information about the Allen family compiled about 1923, and miscellaneous genealogical charts.
iv. Lucy Lane Allen writings, 1875-ca. 1895
Notebooks of Lucy Lane Allen, the mother of Nathaniel Allen, contain family history and autobiographical sketches describing her childhood and the years before her marriage when she taught school in Sudbury.
v. Allen Memories, 1980
The largely autobiographical Allen Memories was written by Edward E. Allen, Jr., a grandson of Nathaniel Allen's brother, James T. Allen. It contains a small amount of family history.
vi. Miscellaneous papers, 1813-1916
Papers include correspondence, receipts, military records, and estate papers of the extended Allen family, including those of Nathaniel Allen's uncle Phineas Allen, and Sarah Allen Cooney's husband, Patrick H. Cooney.
I. Printed material, 1864-1967
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Obituaries and memorials include newspaper clippings and printed memorials of Nathaniel Allen's extended family (For memorials of Nathaniel, Fanny, and Sarah Allen, see their individual series). Other printed material includes newspaper clippings related to the interests and activities of the Allen family, several 1879 issues of the Newton Gazette, ephemera related to Sarah Allen's trip to Wisconsin and the Midwest in 1884; annual reports of the Rebecca Pomroy House from 1898, 1901, and 1903; and a copy of Rosa S. Allen's Family Songs (1889). Miscellaneous material includes invitations, announcements, printed writings of Allen family members, maps, circulars, programs, cruise line passenger lists and itineraries, advertisements, and other ephemera.
II. School records, 1842-1941digital content
This series consists of the records of the Model School, part of the State Normal School at West Newton where Nathaniel Allen taught from 1848 to 1853; the West Newton English and Classical School, familiarly known as the Allen School, where Nathaniel Allen served as principal from 1854 to 1900; and the Misses Allen School for Girls, where Lucy Ellis Allen served as principal from 1904 to 1942. Although these records are incomplete and contain many gaps, they include administrative and financial records, papers related to school curricula, records of individual students, and student diaries. Also in this series is a record book containing lists of Nathaniel Allen's students from his earliest days of teaching in 1842 through 1866 as well as records of the West Newton English and Classical School Alumni Association.
A. Student admissions records, 1842-1866
This volume contains a list of Nathaniel Allen's students from his early teaching positions in Mansfield, Northboro, Northfield, and Shrewsbury, Mass.; Model School students from 1848 to 1852; and West Newton English and Classical School students from 1854 to 1866. Males and females are listed alphabetically on separate pages. Entries include each student's name, age, date of enrollment, name of parent, parent's occupation, residence, and occasional added notes about a student's marriage, occupation, or death.
Loose pages removed from the volume include lists of Mansfield students in 1842-1843 and Northfield students in 1846.
B. Model School records, 1846-1853digital content
Records of the Model Dept. of the State Normal School at West Newton, commonly known as the Model School, consist of teachers' records and notebooks, lists of students, class schedules and syllabi, weekly reports written by Model School students describing their lessons and academic performance, and volumes of students' handwriting samples.
For additional information about the Model School, see Organizational Histories near the beginning of this collection guide.
i. Administrative and teachers' records, 1846-1853
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
This teacher's diary was written by E. Brown, who most likely preceded Nathaniel Allen as Cyrus Peirce's assistant at the Model School. The frequent entries chronicle Brown's experiences and frustrations with teaching young students, describing the school curriculum, student teachers, guest lecturers, and Peirce's supervision.
This volume, written in Nathaniel Allen's hand, contains the names of students in each class, weekly conduct grades for each student, and a list of school visitors.
A photocopy of Nathaniel Allen's teacher's notebook includes lesson plans, lecture notes, syllabi, and examination questions for classes in mathematics, geography, composition, zoology, and chemistry. It also contains letters of reference for several student teachers. The location of the original is unknown.
Loose records include student lists, a few pieces of correspondence, and study schedules.
ii. Student works, 1849-1853digital content
Student weekly reports, 1849-1852digital content
Arranged chronologically. Undated student reports are arranged alphabetically by name.
Student reports are letters written to Allen by Model School students, usually on a weekly basis, critiquing their own lessons, attendance, and behavior, and often including future plans or other personal notes. A few reports were written by Allen's student teachers. Beginning in January 1851, when Allen traveled to the southern United States for his health, students included more news of the school and its members in their reports.
Student handwriting samples consist of three volumes containing poems written by students, dated and signed with their age. The larger volume contains an index of student contributors.
C. West Newton English and Classical School (Allen School) records, 1844-1913digital content
Records in this series reflect the administrative and educational organization of the Allen School, including the daily work of its teachers and students. Administrative records include the school's deeds and mortgages, records of incorporation, annual meeting minutes, financial reports, lists of students and teachers, and class record books. Curriculum records include Nathaniel Allen's academic and moral lectures; notes on curricula, syllabi, and lesson plans; and booklets of examination questions. Student works include a series of daily diaries kept by students to record their academic and social progress, as well as student essays, lectures, and speeches. Records of the school's Lyceum include meeting minutes and reports, debate records, and copies of the student newspaper. Reunion records pertain to the 1871 and 1893 reunions of Allen School alumni, including correspondence, invitations, and speeches. Printed material consists primarily of Allen School catalogs dating from 1865 to 1910, as well as printed circulars, programs, invitations, and newspaper clippings related to various teachers and students.
For additional information about the Allen School, see Organizational Histories near the beginning of this collection guide.
i. Administrative records, 1844-1893
This volume contains detailed accounts of the school's finances from its opening in 1854 to 1877, as well as a yearly memorandum of the school's financial condition, physical improvements, and educational changes. Nathaniel Allen occasionally added personal reflections on family and professional matters. The book also contains the school's 1855 record of incorporation; annual meeting minutes from 1855 to 1865, and 1877; terms of agreement between Allen and Cyrus Peirce; and other school business.
This volume has been cleaned and treated for mildew.
Papers include an 1844 quitclaim deed for the building that later became the West Newton English and Classical School, Allen's 1856 and 1877 mortgages for the property, an 1857 annual financial report, 1886 real estate tax schedules, a 1900 lease of the Allen School property to Frank W. Wood and Albert E. Bailey, Allen's ca. 1903 draft of an agreement between the Allen School and the Misses Allen School, and various bills and tuition accounts.
Included are various lists of students organized by age, residence, term, and subject; teachers by the subjects they taught; student boarders; and 1899-1900 student rolls. Also included is Lucy Allen's 1890-1891 “Statistics of the Class of ‘89” which surveyed recent female alumnae about their vocations, avocations, and future prospects.
The Training School department opened in Sept. 1863 with two classes of children aged nine through thirteen. Its record book contains brief summaries of each term from 1863 to 1870, including names, ages, and residences of each student; curricula; textbooks; and class schedules.
A class record book kept by Lucy Allen in 1893 records students in each of her classes, including their daily and monthly grades. Suggestions to teachers are written in Nathaniel Allen's hand in the front of the volume.
ii. Curriculum records, 1854-1900
Academic lectures are primarily those of Nathaniel Allen, the bulk of which pertain to botany. Others discuss citizenship and civil government, health and physical fitness, science, and natural history.
Moral lectures and prayers, 1854-1900
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Moral lectures were given to the student body once a week, and students were required to summarize them in their journals. Topics include manners, objections to military training in schools, the art of prolonging life, the proper use of money, character building, obedience to the law, temperance, and the use of tobacco. Two notebooks contain prayers for each day of the week.
Curriculum papers include syllabi, Allen's beginning of the year lecture notes, instructions for teaching children, daily schedules, and an undated set of regulations for student boarders. A “teacher's assistant” notebook includes lesson plans for mathematics classes and school prayers.
A series of booklets contain questions for final examinations covering all school subjects, including mathematics, bookkeeping, physical geography, English grammar, natural philosophy, French, Latin, German, Greek, Shakespeare, American and European history, botany, physics, chemistry, physiology, and astronomy.
"Monitorial mental arithmetic class" notebooks, 1882-1889
23 small notebooks contain names of students who participated in mental arithmetic exercises.
iii. Student works, 1855-1900digital content
Mary Lambert diaries, 1855-1860digital content
Mary Tileston Lambert (1842-1865) was a day student at the Allen School from 1854 to 1860. Her nine diaries, written from the age of 12 to 17, were part of her class assignments at the Allen school and were corrected and commented upon by her teacher on a regular basis. They contain daily entries describing with great detail her lessons, teachers, after school activities like ice skating and evening lectures, and special events like Independence Day fireworks and the visit of a Native American chief to the school (17 Sept. 1855). Later diaries occasionally include references to politics and current events. Since she was a local student and not a boarder, Mary also describes her Newton home and family. In 1862, at the age of 19, she married 32-year-old William F. Allen, a cousin of Nathaniel Allen and teacher at the Allen School. Mary died on 23 Mar. 1865, shortly after giving birth to their daughter, Katharine.
Student essays and writings, 1859-1891
Included are Frederic Bush's 1859 botany lecture book, Edward Forster's 1872 political economy lecture book, Charles Wright's 1885 Lyceum speech, Thaddeus Lowe's 1888 sketch of Nathaniel Allen, essays by Hiram Powers (ca. 1889) and Albert Ewer (1891), and an 1891 letter from Anna Cushing Clapp to her parents describing her experiences at the Allen School.
Mary Jane Chisholm (1848-1937) penned her diary as a 16-year-old day student at the Allen School in 1864 and 1865, writing almost exclusively about her studies and school affairs. The back of her diary contains a list of correspondents and poetry. Mary later married Rev. William W. Foster, Jr. and was active in kindergarten church work in Amsterdam, N.Y.
These essays were written by classmates and teachers to commemorate George Eaton, a 16-year-old boarding student who drowned in January 1882 while skating on the Charles River. Requested by his father, the essays reminisced about George's life and friendship, and included memorials by Nathaniel Allen's mother, Lucy Lane Allen; his daughters, Fanny, Sarah, and Lucy; and his cousin George E. Allen.
These travel papers belonged to an 18-year-old Japanese student, Shyoichiro Onodera, who was a student at the Allen School in 1900. They include a student travel visa and accompanying documents, as well as a May 1900 receipt for membership in the Alumni Assoc.
iv. West Newton English and Classical School Lyceum records, 1854-1889
The Lyceum was an educational and cultural society run by Allen School students. The organization held weekly meetings conducted by elected student officers and held occasional public meetings. Its records include meeting minutes, officer reports, a series of entomology essays, and copies of their student newspaper, "The Gleaner."
“The Gleaner” was a manuscript periodical “published weekly by members of the English and Classical School Lyceum.” Containing editorials, essays, articles about school issues, poetry, and puzzles, the weekly issues were later bound into a volume. The paper's editors in 1854 and 1855 were all female students at the school.
Lyceum record books, 1861-1889
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
These volumes contain minutes of weekly meetings held during school terms; reports of the librarian, treasurer, curator, general secretary, and Prudential Committee; and lists of officers. Reports record the group's debate questions, lectures, readings, and occasional public meetings. Loose papers removed from the volume include 1861-1862 reports, an 1866 public meeting program, and an 1876 copy of “The Gleaner.”
This small volume contains student reports on insects and butterflies.
v. Reunion records, 1871-1893
Joseph E. Fiske was the secretary of the committee charged with planning a reunion of Allen School students in 1871. His correspondence consists of invitations sent to the school's alumni, teachers, and friends as well as their responses. Also in this subseries is the address of Rev. Arthur M. Knapp of Bangor, Maine, an 1854 alumnus, as well as material from the school's 1893 reunion, including printed invitations, verses for the reunion song and poem, and a newspaper clipping about the event.
For additional information about the 1893 Allen School reunion, see also Series II. E. Alumni Association records.
vi. Printed material, 1854-1913digital content
Circulars, 1854-1900digital content
These yearly advertisements for the Allen School contain a brief history of the school and its philosophy, a list of its teachers, tuition and expenses, dates of school terms, and policies for student boarders.
Scrapbook (unbound), 1854-1887digital content
Arranged in original order.
This unbound scrapbook contains copies of the school's circulars, along with programs and invitations for school musicals, dancing school announcements, and other miscellaneous printed material.
Catalogs, 1865-1910digital content
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Included are both individual issues and bound sets of school catalogs. The 1865 and 1867 catalogs contain lists of all present and former students dating from 1854. Catalogs also contain a description of the school and its programs, the course of studies, lists of teachers and instructors, and references. Later catalogs include an account of the 1871 reunion and an 1876 historical sketch of the school. Many of the separate catalogs were labeled as the “private copy of Nathaniel Allen” and contain annotations, most likely in preparation for the 1895 alumni catalog.
Vol. 5 contains bound copies of the 1865 and 1867 catalogs engraved as Nathaniel Allen's private copy. It is heavily annotated with student updates such as marriages, deaths, residence, and occupation. Vol. 6 contains the 1865, 1867, 1874, 1880, and 1881 catalogs with blank pages interleaved for notes and several annotations. Vol. 7 contains a full set of catalogs from 1882 to 1889, with only a few annotations.
Miscellaneous printed material, 1876-1913digital content
Arranged chronologically and by subject.
Other printed material includes programs for school musicals, graduation exercises, and dance parties; material related to Washington's birthday celebrations, including sheet music, programs, and periodicals; and various newspaper clippings about the school.
Newsclippings about former students and teachers are largely obituaries collected by the Allens and others, but also contain occasional notices of marriages, professional positions, or criminal acts.
D. Misses Allen School records, 1904-1941
This subseries contains records related to the Misses Allen School for Girls in West Newton, founded by Fanny Bassett Allen and Lucy Ellis Allen in 1904. The bulk consists of administrative records, including student records, tuition accounts, teachers' salary records, admission applications, and Lucy Allen's correspondence in her capacity as principal. Other material includes several student essays and sketches, music and lyrics for a school song, school catalogs, graduation programs, and newspaper clippings.
For additional information about the Misses Allen School, see Organizational Histories near the beginning of this collection guide.
i. Administrative records, 1904-1941
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Records consist of accounts of individual students, including their status as day students or boarders, their age upon entrance, name and address of parents, graduation, additional education, and other relevant facts.
This volume contains a list of teachers and their salaries, tuition payments, and academic and financial records for individual students, recorded in Lucy Allen's hand. The book also contains the 1899-1903 accounts of her father, Nathaniel Allen, and is cited in Series I. B., Nathaniel T. Allen personal papers, as well.
Student records largely consist of transcripts from previous schools.
The bulk of correspondence was written to Lucy Allen as principal of the Misses Allen School from college admissions offices and the College Admissions Board.
Lucy Allen's memoranda book contains instructions for the care of the school and grounds.
The student card file holds information about Misses Allen School students, including birthdate, parents' name and address, dates of attendance, later education, marriage, and professional positions. Maintained by Lucy Allen, it is unclear whether the file is complete.
ii. Student work, 1910
The small amount of student work in this subseries includes a series of sketches and poems by Mary G. Pratt, a lengthy essay on art history by Lucille Totman, and a reading list compiled by Sarah Wingate Taylor.
iii. Allen School songs, 1920-1927
Songs include manuscript music and various sets of lyrics composed by students and teachers.
iv. Printed material, 1904-1939
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Catalogs describe the practical and philosophical aspects of the school, provide a short history of the Allen family and schools, and list curriculum, fees, and current students. Other printed material includes graduation programs, musical programs, and circulars. Newspaper clippings primarily announce graduation exercises or musical and dramatic programs. A 1932 article discusses the history of the school.
E. West Newton English and Classical School Alumni Association records, 1892-1938
Founded in conjunction with an 1893 reunion of former Allen School students, the Alumni Association was charged with organizing annual meetings and social reunions of the school's former teachers and students. Records include correspondence, largely that of Alumni Association president Eugene F. Fay; annual meeting minutes; membership records; and biographical research collected in an effort to locate alumni. Printed material includes an 1895 catalog of alumni, teachers, and others affiliated with the school as well as subsequent annual updates or "necrologies."
i. Correspondence, 1892-1910
Most correspondence is that of Eugene F. Fay, the chair of the Reunion Executive Committee, and later, Alumni Association president. Fay sent out letters to locate former students and teachers of the school, conducting extensive research to compile a comprehensive catalog. Some responses to requests for information are addressed to Nathaniel Allen and Edward Burrage, the association's treasurer, offering biographical information about former students. While the bulk of letters date from 1892 to 1895, those from 1907 to 1910 reflect an attempt to publish an update to the catalog, which was curtailed by Fay's death in 1910.
ii. Administrative records, 1893-1916
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
The association's record book includes a brief history of the association and the 1893 reunion, lists of officers, the association's constitution, annual meeting minutes, and printed notices of annual meetings. Membership records include a list of prospective members, presumably dating from the organization's founding in 1893; a membership book containing members' names, the year they entered the Allen School, and their place of residence; and a card file listing members' names, date of school enrollment, current residence, marriages, deaths, and other information.
Other administrative material includes several annual meeting minutes and expense sheets, a list of catalog requests, and committee reports from 1907 and 1913.
iii. Research notes, ca. 1893-1910
Arranged chronologically, although bulk of material is undated.
Eugene Fay and others compiled a large amount of research material in an effort to locate alumni for the school's 1893 reunion, the alumni association's 1895 catalog, and a later catalog which was unfinished at Fay's death in 1910. Notes include lists of alumni for which Fay was seeking information, such as addresses, occupations, marriages, and death dates. The research slip file contains family and genealogical research notes collected on small, undated slips of paper. Some slips contain information on multiple families or locations, and are largely unorganized.
iv. Printed material, 1893-1938
Printed in 1895, An Illustrated Biographical Catalog of the Principals, Teachers, and Students of the West Newton English and Classical School contains a history of the school and its kindergarten department; extensive biographies of the principals and teachers; and entries for students including year of admittance, residence, birthdate, marriage, further education, occupation, current residence, and death date if relevant. It also gives accounts of the 1871 and 1893 reunion with addresses and remarks, as well as the constitution and membership of the newly formed Alumni Association. Compiled by Eugene Fay, the catalog also contains photographs of the school, its principals and teachers, and homes where students boarded.
Printed necrologies were intended as updates to the catalog, listing deaths and additional information about alumni gathered since 1895. They were printed yearly beginning in 1896, and were compiled by Lucy Ellis Allen from 1920 to 1938.
Other printed material includes various copies of the association's constitution and list of officers from 1893 to 1913; invitations to the 1893 planning meeting and reunion; invitations and tickets to later annual meetings; printed requests for information about alumni; and a few newsclippings.
v. Autograph albums, 1893-1897
These albums contain signatures of former Allen School students who attended the June 1893 reunion and the 1897 annual meeting.
III. Allen School and House Preservation Corporation records, 1962-1998
The Allen School and House Preservation Corporation was formed in April 1977 under the direction of Helen Levy to preserve the house and papers of Nathaniel Allen's family and associated schools. Upon her death in 1943, Lucy Ellis Allen left her house at 35 Webster St. in West Newton to her companion, Ruby Margaret Keefer. Keefer bequeathed the house in equal parts to Smith College, Radcliffe College, Trinity Church in Boston, and the West Newton Unitarian Church when she died in 1975. Through the efforts of Levy and the Newton Historical Commission, the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 1978, and grants were obtained for the purchase and preservation of the property, which was acquired by the corporation in December 1978. The family papers and school records were later deposited in the archives of Historic Newton, Inc. In 2013, the house was sold to the Newton Cultural Alliance and the Allen papers were donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Records in this series document the preservation of the house and its related papers, as well as the historical research and activities supported by the organization. They include correspondence, legal papers, meeting minutes, research reports, newspaper clippings, and other printed material.
A. Administrative records, 1962-1998
i. Correspondence, 1962-1998
Early correspondence, from 1962 to 1972, documents efforts to preserve the Allen family papers and school records. Most letters are related to the efforts of Margery Davis Pratt and Sarah Wingate Taylor to convince Ruby Keefer to donate Allen papers to the Newton Historical Society. The bulk of correspondence documenting active preservation measures dates from 1977 to 1982, and is largely that of Helen Levy, Vice President of the Newton Historic Preservation Association and later, project director of the Allen School and House Preservation Corporation. It includes correspondence with architectural and preservation consultants, representatives of the Newton and Massachusetts Historical Commissions, scholars, researchers, and Allen family descendants.
Topics include the building's placement on the National Register of Historic Places, grants to fund the purchase and restoration of the house, community development block grants, school programs and activities, and tours of the house. A number of letters offer support for the corporation's mission and fundraising activities. Of particular interest is a June 1978 letter from Genevieve Welsh containing reminiscences of her days as a Misses Allen School student.
ii. Subject files, 1977-1981
Arranged chronologically and by subject.
Subject files contain information related to the property's National Register application and certificate, student work-study records, legal papers including the property deed and preservation restriction, grant applications, Newton Historical Commission meeting minutes, and the 1981 Phase II restoration report.
B. Research material, 1974-1983
This subseries contains historical reports about Nathaniel Allen or the Allen School, including Robert K. Barney's "The Allen File: Landmark in Nineteenth Century American Physical Education" (ca. 1975); Margaret B. Nuttle's "Nathaniel Topliff Allen and the West Newton English and Classical School, 1854-1900" (1977); and Pamela Fox's "A Study of the Nathaniel T. Allen House" (1978). Also included are notes related to African American students that attended the Allen School.
C. Printed material, 1974-1983
Printed records include newspaper clippings and newsletters about the Allen house, its history, and its preservation, as well as a 1982 land survey of the property.
IV. Oversize material, 1903-1982
Arranged by subject.
Oversize material consists of the military papers of Gustaf Nielsen, including an August 1917 certificate of completion at the Military Instruction Camp at Harvard University, along with a printed schedule of his classes; his March 1918 appointment as 2nd Lieutenant in the Aviation Section of the Signal Officers Reserve Corps of the U.S. Army; and a December 1918 certificate of appreciation for his military service from the City of Newton. Miscellaneous papers include 1903 newspapers containing articles about the construction of Sarah Allen Cooney Memorial in Natick; and a 1929 diploma from the Misses Allen School.
Nathaniel Allen papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.
Materials Removed from the Collection
- Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Nathaniel T. Allen Photographs, Photo. Coll. 247. Collection guide available at: http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fap055.
- Two volumes from this collection have been cataloged separately:
- Nathaniel Ordway account book, 1724-1920. Ms. N-2485 (XT)
- Jonathan Smith day book, 1804-1838. Ms. N-2486 (Tall).
- The following artifacts have been removed to the MHS artifacts collection:
- Track and field medal awarded by Mass. Agricultural College at Amherst to Gustaf A. Nielsen for 30 yard dash, 15 January 1910.
- Misses Allen's School, dance cards: 1910, 1911, 1912.
- Undated dance card.
- Embroidered portfolio cover, maker unknown. Silk threads on linen.
- Sewing sample book, scrapbook with 12 examples of fine sewing, with instructions on facing pages, ca. 1897.
- Currency, largely Confederate, European, and Japanese, has been removed to the MHS currency collection. See Reference Librarian for a complete list.
- Some printed material, largely related to education and women's suffrage, has been removed and cataloged separately. See Reference Librarian for a complete list.