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Allen Family papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS 0873

Scope and Contents

The Allen family papers contain material relating to Luella Mary Allen (Class of 1896), Winifred Shirley Allen (Class of 1904), and members of their family. The material includes correspondence, photographs, and biographical information relating the members of the Allen family. The bulk of the collection dates from 1892-1943, and consists of letters from Luella and Winifred Allen. These letters discuss life at Mount Holyoke in the last years of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth, including many descriptions of food, clothes, and college events; relief efforts made by the New York school system during World War One; the lectures and concerts that Luella and Winifred attended; and New York school system politics. The collection also contains letters from members of the Allen family who moved to California at various points in the nineteenth century, some for the 1849 gold rush. The Allens all tended to discuss their health problems and financial troubles. Many of the letters report on the death of one or another relative. The collection also includes transcriptions of the letters prepared by Luella and Winifred’s great-niece, Alice Miriam Ross de Kok.


  • Creation: 1825-1937, 2010-2011

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to all transcriptions and biographical material is owned by Alice Miriam Ross de Kok, 2011. Permission to cite the papers for quotations or for publication beyond "fair use" must be obtained from the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

This collection is primarily concerned with Luella Mary and Winifred Shirley Allen, two sisters who graduated from Mount Holyoke College. Lulu May Allen (she changed her name to Luella Mary) was born on October 2, 1875 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Winifred Shirley Allen was born on April 25, 1882. They were the daughters of Henry S. Allen, Manchester’s first photographer, and Helen Bissell Allen, who died six months after Winifred was born. Mr. Allen married his housekeeper, Miriam Bean Pillsbury. The sisters finished high school in Winchendon, Massachusetts and entered Mount Holyoke, each spending four years at the college. Luella entered in 1891 as a member of the Class of 1896, while Winifred attended the College from 1899-1904, graduating with the Class of 1904. Luella spent the years immediately after her graduation teaching in Oxford and Attleboro, Massachusetts. The sisters moved to New York by 1911, where they lived and taught together until Winifred’s death on March 19, 1927. After her sister’s death, Luella moved to California, where she died on August 19, 1935.

Several other family members are represented in the collection. Silas Allen (1754-1841), Luella and Winifred’s great-grandfather, was a Revolutionary War veteran who lived on the border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He was a farmer and housewright. His son Deacon James Allen III (1792-1872) was also a farmer. He moved north to Winhall, Vermont, where he lived with his wife and seven children. James’ first wife Sarah Howe (1800-1837) died in childbirth. He then married Mary Polly Vaile (1810-1887), and with her had five more children, including Henry Seldon Allen. Henry Allen (1848-1925) was the father of Winifred and Luella. He was born in Winhall, VT, and later moved to Manchester, VT, to be closer to his first wife’s family. After his remarriage, he moved his family to Winchendon, Mass. Two of Henry Allen’s half-brothers, James F. Allen (1822-18710 and William Dennis Allen (1824-1849) went west to become miners.


1.68 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Allen Family. Luella Mary Allen, Winifred Shirley Allen, and their relatives. Collection consists of letters, photographs, and transcriptions of the letters prepared by a descendent. Letters include some written from mid-nineteenth century California mining fields, and many detailing student life at Mount Holyoke College in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

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Repository Details

Part of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Repository

50 College Street
8 Dwight Hall
South Hadley MA 01075-6425 USA