Iowa Women's Archives
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa



PAPERS, 1884-1958
13.5 linear feet


Iowa Women's Archives
100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Phone: 319-335-5068
Fax: 319-335-5900
E-mail the Iowa Women's Archives

Collection Overview

The papers (donor no. 528) were donated by Joan A. Allen in 1998.
The papers are open for research.
Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.
In Box 27.
Processed by:

Nickol Himschoot, Jun-Nicole Matsushita, Natalie Moretz, and Lisa Mott, 2003. [AllenHilda.doc]



Educator, writer, activist, Hilda Ellyson Allen (1888- ) was born in West Branch, Iowa to Emma and Sewell Ellyson. After graduating from West Branch High School, Allen completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1910 at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in Iowa City, Iowa. While in college Hilda Ellyson met her future husband, George Eugene Allen, a fellow student who received an AB in History, Political Economy and Political Science in 1909. Hilda and George Allen were married June 18, 1912 in West Branch, Iowa and enjoyed a brief honeymoon at the Palisades in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. Following the nuptials George returned to Chicago and Hilda continued to live in Iowa. The couple would later have three children: Sewell, Philip and Hermione.

Following college graduation Hilda Allen taught English and Public Speaking at Osage High School in Osage, Iowa from 1911-1912. Allen’s interest in English and literature extended to an active writing career in which she published numerous short stories and articles. Allen also read and extensively clipped book reviews. In addition to an interest in writing, Allen explored the Arts through her reading and personal sketches and was an active member of a number of organizations. She was involved with the literary branch of the Onawa Woman’s Club and served with the American Red Cross during World War II.

George Eugene Allen (1887-1944) was born to May Jane and Philip Allen. While at the State University of Iowa, George Allen was a member of the debate team and the Delta Chi Fraternity. Allen maintained contact with his fraternity brothers beyond his college years as both a mentor to younger members and recipient of assistance and advice during his efforts to establish himself as a lawyer. George Allen pursued his law degree at the State University of Iowa Law School, but failed out in February 1910. He later completed his studies at the University of Chicago Law School. Upon graduating from law school George Allen practiced law in Sioux City, Iowa, Moville, Iowa, and in 1915 opened “Oliver & Allen, Attorneys at Law” in Onawa, Iowa.

Sewell Allen, born in 1913, was the first child of George and Hilda Ellyson Allen. In 1931 Sewell graduated from Onawa High School where he had been active in drama, forensics, and the Order of Demolay for Boys. Following his high school graduation Sewell attended Compton Junior College in California before attending the State University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. While attending the University Sewell continued his interests in drama and forensics and was active with the Inter-Collegiate Civic League and Delta Chi fraternity. Sewell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1935, after which he went on to earn a law degree.

Sewell Allen joined his father’s law practice in Onawa upon passing the Iowa State Bar. In 1941 Sewell was elected to the Iowa General Assembly as a legislator despite his young age. Sewell enlisted in the army in 1942 and served in the European war theater during 1944 and 1945. He married his high school sweetheart Frannie Whiting of Whiting, Iowa on March 17, 1943 while on furlough in Washington, D.C. where Frannie worked for the Federal Housing Commission. The couple had their first child, Stephen, in 1944. Stephen was eventually followed by a brother, Sewell, and a sister, Lisa. Sewell Allen returned to his law practice after the war. (His father and law partner George Allen had died in December 1944) Following his return to Iowa Sewell was named the Democratic County Chairman for Monona County.

Philip Allen was born in 1915. He attended Onawa Grade School where he served as cartoonist for the school paper. (Unfortunately, the only two copies of the paper in the collection do not contain any of his artwork.) Phil Allen attended Onawa High School where he was on the State Champion debate team. After graduating from high school he attended the State University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. While attending the University he was active in speech and forensics, the Young Democrats, Delta Chi fraternity, and worked at the university’s radio station WSUI.

Though Phil Allen talked about attending law school, upon graduation from the university he found immediate employment in the field of radio. Between 1936 and 1943 he worked at various radio stations in Nebraska, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wisconsin. In 1939 Phil Allen married Pauline ________. They had three children, George (born 1941), David (born 1944) and PJ. Drafted in 1944, Phil served in World War II in the Japanese theater of action. While working at WISN in Milwaukee in 1948 he took classes in Spanish and law at Marquette University. By 1951 he was teaching at the University of Omaha in Nebraska.

Hermione Georgette Allen was born on November 2, 1917 in Onawa, Iowa. Hermione Allen attended Onawa Grade School where she first demonstrated her flair for writing poems and short stories. During these early years Hermione was active in the Camp Fire Girls. While attending Onawa High School, Hermione, like her brothers, was active in forensics. Like her older brother Sewell, Hermione was also an honor roll student. She was a member of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls. After graduating from high school, Hermione Allen attended the State University of Iowa. She declared English as her major and speech as her minor with the intention of teaching English and speech after graduation. While attending the University Hermione Allen was active in debate, the Young Democrats Club, the Gavel Club and the Honors English Group. She earned extra money working as a postal clerk at Currier Residence Hall and was a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. She graduated in 1939. On February 5, 1942 Hermione married Clarence Potter Baker. They began their married life in Manhattan, Kansas. They had one child, Hugh, born in 1944.

Scope and Content Note

The Hilda Ellyson Allen papers date from 1884 to 1958 and measure 13.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in nine series: Correspondence, Hilda Ellyson Allen, George Allen, Sewell Allen, Philip Allen, Hermione Allen Baker, Miscellaneous, Newspaper clippings, and Photographs.

The majority of the Hilda Ellyson Allen collection consists of correspondence. The Correspondence series dates from 1907-1959. The early correspondence is primarily between Hilda and George Allen during their courtship and early in their marriage when they lived apart. From 1920 through the1940’s, Hilda Allen received letters from her sons while they were in law school and George while he was away on business. Many of these letters depict the financial situation of the Allens. A list of teacher positions and salaries accompanied one of Hilda’s letters to George. Hilda also received responses to constituent concerns she expressed to several congressmen.

1940s correspondence is separated by letters from friends and family in the armed forces and correspondence between Hilda Allen and people in the states. These are largely political in nature; Sewell and Philip Allen wrote often about current events and the political and social implications of World War II, the draft, and the Roosevelt administration. There is an extensive collection of V-mail from Sewell Allen and from Dave and Agnes West while they served overseas depicting aspects of military life and concerns about happenings at home. Included in these are moving letters from Sewell to his mother Hilda Allen regarding the untimely and sudden death of his father George Allen in 1944.

Throughout the 1950s Hilda Allen corresponded frequently with a friend, George Richardson. These letters provide commentary on political issues including local Iowa legislation and presidential candidates. Hilda Allen also received several letters from Richard Morris during his military service in Japan. He wrote to Hilda and her high school students about his perspectives on Japanese culture and military life.

Several folders of undated letters have been filed separately. The majority of the letters to Hilda Allen from her sister Hermione Ellyson are located here. All of the undated postcards and greeting cards can be found here as well.

The Hilda Ellyson Allen series (1909-1944)provides insight into Allen’s personal interests. Her writing career is documented in a collection of short stories, newspaper clippings, and correspondence with publishers. Hilda Allen’s art sketches and notebooks can be found in the artwork sub-series. Hilda Allen was involved in a number of organizations such as the Camp Fire Girls, Onawa Woman’s Club, Daughters of the American Revolution and American Red Cross. Her work with the Red Cross during World War II is documented in notebooks, correspondence and telegrams. The personal sub-series contains Hilda Allen’s 1934 diary of a trip the family took with friends to Minnesota. Included with the diary is a letter written during the planning stages of the trip that includes the itinerary and photographs of where the families will be staying.

George Allen’s educational, professional, personal, and political papers are found in the George Allen series (1909-1946). His involvement with the debate team and Delta Chi Fraternity at the State University of Iowa is reflected in correspondence with his fraternity brothers and newspaper clippings. George Allen’s report cards and commencement program are also included. The professional papers cover George Allen’s early work as a teacher and career as a lawyer. Correspondence with former classmates and law firms, business receipts, notebooks, and contracts provide insight into the establishment of the law firm Oliver and Allen, Attorneys at Law. George Allen’s support for Democratic candidates is evident in his political papers, and a fairytale and journal entry offer a glimpse into his personal interests.

The Sewell Allen series is arranged in three sub-series: Biography, Professional and Correspondence. The Biography sub-series consists primarily of school papers from Sewell’s youth, Compton Junior College in California and the State University of Iowa. Among the high school papers is A Prophesy for the High School Class of 1931 authored by Sewell, in which he predicts what each of his classmates will be doing “twenty years hence.” The State University of Iowa papers include an impassioned letter Sewell wrote to then-president Walter Jessup in support of continuing the Campus Course taught by Dr. Shambaugh. Also included in the Biography sub-series are newspaper clippings, telegrams and papers concerning Sewell’s World War II army enlistment. Included with the military papers is a 1942 book in which Sewell kept notes regarding military correspondence, payroll and service record regulations.

The Professional sub-series consists almost entirely of papers relating to Sewell Allen’s tenure as an Iowa General Assembly Legislator in 1941. The legislative papers include correspondence between Sewell and his constituents and fellow legislators, papers referring to pending bills and committee work, and various informational materials Sewell read regarding agriculture, public schools, the petroleum industry and other areas of interest. The Professional sub-series also contains several undated and unidentified notes for lectures and presentations that may pertain to either Sewell’s political or law career. An undated newspaper clipping that announces Sewell’s appointment as Democratic County Chairman includes a photograph of the young attorney.

Sewell was an avid letter-writer and the Correspondence sub-series primarily consists of letters Sewell wrote to his parents and family spanning the years 1929 to 1958. The letters between 1942 and 1945 cover his enlistment in the Army during World War II and are filled with reflections and insights regarding the war, the homefront and military life. There is also a large number of letters that Hilda and George Allen wrote to their son between 1928 and 1944. Included in this family correspondence are several letters between Sewell Allen and Frannie Whiting, written both during their courtship and after their marriage. Also preserved with Sewell’s correspondence is a letter Norman Whiting, Frannie’s brother, wrote to her regarding her impending marriage. General correspondence from friends, fraternity brothers, and associates is also found in the Correspondence sub-series.

The Philip Allen series is arranged in three sub-series: Biography, Professional and Correspondence. The Biography sub-series consists of school papers and report cards from Philip Allen’s youth, along with poems and stories he wrote. There is also a handwritten document regarding the exchange of clothes between Philip and his brother Sewell that is witnessed and signed by their mother Hilda Allen. The Biography sub-series also includes papers pertaining to Philip Allen’s time at the State University of Iowa, including his acceptance into law school.

The Professional sub-series includes a 1942 radio script from when Philip Allen was working at KIDO in Boise, Idaho. There is also a newsletter announcing Philip’s hiring with Central States Broadcasting out of Omaha, Nebraska in 1936, and a scathing draft of a letter Philip wrote after being fired from KGLO radio. Also included are letters written to the Montana radio station where Philip worked in 1939. Of particular interest is a 1951 letter Philip Allen wrote to the Governor of Nebraska, the Attorney General, members of the Legislature, the President of the University of Omaha, James Dalton of the F.B.I. and others protesting the requirement that he sign a loyalty oath in order to teach at the University of Omaha. In it he questions both the constitutionality and morality of the Nebraska loyalty oath law and composes an oath of reassurance that he wants all the recipients of his letter to sign as a condition of his signature on the loyalty oath.

The bulk of the Philip Allenseries consists of correspondence, most of which is between Philip and his family. There are several letters that Philip wrote while attending the State University of Iowa. Also amongst the correspondence is a January 11, 1945 letter that Sewell wrote to his mother following his father’s death in which he compliments both parents for their strengths. There is also a 45-page letter that Philip wrote to his grandmother, Ellen Ellyson, in 1950. Other correspondence includes letters between Philip and his wife Pauline, and general correspondence between Philip and friends and associates.

The Hermione Allen Baker series is arranged in two sub-series: Biography and Correspondence. The Biography sub-series includes Hermione Allen’s 1917 baby book, school papers from grade school through the State University of Iowa, including a drawing book, her 1935-1936 diary, and the 1942 invitation for the wedding of Hermione Allen and Clarence Baker. The Correspondence is almost equally divided between family correspondence and letters from Hermione’s admirers; several young men fell in love with Hermione during her college years. Hermione wrote her parents quite often. As with her brothers, Hermione Allen was an affectionate and thoughtful child and often thanked her parents for the sacrifices they were making to send their children to college during the Depression. In addition to letters from her parents, Hermione also received letters from her brothers addressed to “The Kid.”

The Miscellaneous series is divided into three sub-series. The Collected Materials sub-series contains materials that cannot be attributed directly to any specific member of the Allen family. This sub-series includes calendars, dance cards, travel brochures and writings. Most of the writings are typed and provide no indication as to whether or not they are original works or transcribed from published texts. The Other Family sub-series contains autograph books from Redondo Union High School in California where Hilda Ellyson Allen’s sister, Hermione Ellyson taught. Also included is an 1884 scrapbook belonging to Nellie D. Hill that consists of an indexed collection of articles that Hill collected, including a memoriam for Anna Christy Ellyson on page nineteen.

The Newspaper clippings series consists of articles clipped by members of the Allen family pertaining to local news events in Iowa, specifically Onawa and the State University of Iowa, nationwide political and war coverage, and other miscellaneous clippings. Included are book reviews, short stories, poetry and submissions to literary contests. The series also contains copies of the Onawa High School Breeze newspaper from 1927 through 1933.

The Photograph series contains formal portraits and cabinet photographs dating back to approximately the nineteenth century, photographic postcards, candid photographs and negatives of babies, children, friends and family members

Box List

Box 1


June- July 1908
August-September 1908
September- October 1908
November- December 1908

Box 2

January- March 1909
April- July 1909
July- August 1909
August- December 1909
1909 letters separated from envelopes (2 folders)

Box 3

March- June 1910
June- July 1910
July- August 1910
August- September 1910
September-October 1910

Box 4

October 1910
October- November 1910
November- December 1910
January 1911
February 1911

Box 5

March 1911
April 1911 (2 folders)
May 1911
June-July 1911
July-August 1911

Box 6

August- September 1911
October- November 1911
December 1911
January 1912
February 1912
March-April 1912
April-May 1912

Box 7

May- June 1912
July- December 1912
May 1913

Box 8

June- November 1913
January- May 1914
June- July 1914
January- June 1915
June- July 1915
January 1916
June-July 1916

Box 9

August- November 1916
Round Robin letters, 1916
January-December 1941
February-June 1942

Box 10

July 1-9, 1942
July 10-10, 1942
July 21-31, 1942
August 1-15, 1942
August 15-31, 1942

Box 11

September 1-15, 1942
September 15-30, 1942
October 1942
November 1942
December 1942

Box 12

January- March 1943
April 1943
May- July 1943
August- December 1943

Box 13

January- March 1944
April- June 1944
July- September 1944
October-December 1944
V-mail from Philip, 1945
January-September 1944

Box 14

October- December 1944
January- April 1945

Box 15

May-December 1945
George Richardson Correspondence 1950’s (2 folders)
Undated, between George and Hilda Allen (3 folders)

Box 16

From George’s sister Sadie
From Hilda’s sister Hermione Ellyson
From Dave and Agnes West
Miscellaneous Correspondence
Postcards and Greeting Cards


Art Notebook
MiscellaneousOil Portraits [oversize: in map case]
Pencil Sketches [oversize: in map case]
Club Work
Camp Fire Girls, 1927
Daughters of the American Revolution membership certificate, 1917 [oversize: in map case]
Onawa Woman’s Club
Division of Literature, 1928-1931 and undated (2 folders)
Newspaper Clippings, 1924-1925, undated
PEO notebook, 1933

Box 17

Red Cross
Correspondence, 1942-1944 and undated (2 folders)
N ewspaper Clippings, 1943
Notebooks, 1942-1944 and undated (2 folders)
University of Iowa, 1910 and Indiana Handbook, 1909
Children’s papers, undated
Marriage documents, 1912
Theater programs, 1911, 1926, 1939 and undated
Trip diary, 1934
Teaching Career, 1911-1912
Writing Career
Correspondence with Leon and Maude Smith, 1925-1928
Correspondence with Publishers

Box 18

1927-1931, undated
“The Game,” “The New Plaque,” “Gooseberries and Brocades,” “Getting Away,” and
“The Game”
“Of He in Advent Fire,” “Canyon’s Rim,” “Blue Moon of Yesteryear,” “Canyon’s
Rim,” “Crawford’s Mary,” and Untitled
Short Essays and Articles (2 folders)
“Theme Reader,” and “A Satellite of Riley’s”
“The Wrist Watch Hour”
Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, 1940
Manuscript Log
Writing Folder, “Miss Hilda Ellyson”

Box 19


Delta Chi Fraternity, 1912-1915, undated
High school diploma, 1905 [oversize: in map case]
The State University of Iowa, 1909, 1912-1913, undated
Fairy Tale, 1936
Freemasons, 1942
Certificate, 1942 [oversize: in map case]
Journal Entry, 1931
White Collies, 1929
Miscellaneous, 1911-1936
Albert Teachers Agency, 1912-1914
Bills, 1936-1937
Commencement Address, 1943
Contracts, Certificates, and Lease
January – July 1913
August – December 1913

Box 20

January – March 1914
Law Practice Notebooks
Newspaper Clippings
Onawa High School, 1913, 1933


Compton Junior College, 1931-1932
Financial papers, 1929 and 1941
High school, 1925-1931
Military, 1942, 1944 and undated
State University of Iowa
Correspondence, 1931-1938
Papers, 1935, 1939 and undated
Newspaper clippings, undated
Bills and committee work, 1941
Correspondence, 1941 and undated (folder 1)

Box 21

Correspondence, 1941 and undated (folders 2-4)
Reading materials, 1941

Box 22

Notes for speeches, undated
Newspaper clipping and photograph, undated
From parents, 1929-1944 and undated
General correspondence from Sewell, 1929-1942 and undated
General correspondence to Sewell, 1929-1943 and undated
Norman and Frannie Whiting, undated
To family, 1929-1958 and undated (4 folders)

Box 23


State University of Iowa, 1934, 1937 and undated
Youth, 1925-1934 and undated
Correspondence, 1939
Loyalty oath, 1951
Radio, 1936, 1939, 1942 and undated
Receipts, 1939
From family, 1931-1939
From parents, 1933-1939 and undated
From Pauline, 1937-1939
General correspondence from Philip, 1937
General correspondence to Philip, 1931-1939
To family, 1934-1945, 1948-1951 and undated (3 folders)
To Pauline, 1943

Box 24


Baby book, 1917
Diary, 1935-1936
Practical Drawing
, undated
School, 1927-1935 and undated
State University of Iowa, 1935-1939 and undated
Wedding invitation, 1942
From admirers, 1935-1936 (folder 1)

Box 25

From admirers, 1935-1936 (folder 2)
From family, 1931-1943 and undated
General correspondence, 1931-1937 and undated
Love letters from Axel, 1935-1937 (2 folders)
To parents, 1935-1944 and undated (2 folders)

Box 26


Collected materials
Calendars, 1910 and 1917
Dance cards, 1910 and undated
Delta Sigma Rho, 1913
Travel brochures
Writings, undated
Other family
Hermione Ellyson, 1929, 1931 and undated
Nellie D. Hill
Scrapbook, 1884
Photocopy of scrapbook
Iowa, 1917, 1940-1943 and undated
World War II, 1943 and undated


Family articles, 1931, 1933 and undated
Literary articles

Box 27

Local Iowa and Onawa articles
Miscellaneous articles
Onawa High School Breeze
, 1927-1933 (3 folders)
PoetryPolitical articles
University news


1947-1951, undated
Professional Portraits, undated

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Last updated June 14, 2004 (jw)