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RG 30/67 - George Nelson Allen Family (1812-1924)
Scope and Content

The George Nelson Allen family papers contain correspondence, diaries, journals, hymn books, music scores, certificates and diplomas, and photographs.  The scope and content of this collection was altered by accessions of family papers, received between 1993 and 1996.  Revised in 1992 and again in 1997, this third arrangement and description of the Allen papers had to account for the large entry of correspondence, most of which belonged to Caroline Mary Rudd Allen and her children, as well as the Rudd-Deforest families.  The title of the collection was also changed to reflect these additions.  (An additional series, Writings, was established in 2002 when Allen's publications on natural history were added to the Allen Family Papers.)  The collection also includes some modest material relating to George Nelson Allen's teaching career at Oberlin College and personal interests.  Allen was extremely interested in music and the natural sciences, and the materials here reveal his methods and beliefs during his time spent at Oberlin College.

Although the Allen family papers contain a considerable amount of excellent primary material, there are significant gaps in the family record.  (These gaps may well be related to letters having been shared among family members.)  Correspondence of George Nelson Allen dated from 1841-1845, 1847-1849, and 1872-1876 is missing, as is correspondence, dated 1849-1875, of Caroline Mary Rudd Cochran.  Another notable gap is the lack of outgoing correspondence of Carrie and Alice Allen—no letters survive written to their parents.  Even though a good sample of material exists for George Nelson Allen's teaching career and interests in the papers, the volume is quite small considering the period of time spent at Oberlin College.  Also, no files survived that document his role with the Musical Union and First Congregational Church.  Files documenting the careers, interests, and hobbies of this 19th century family are also fragmentary.

The George Nelson Allen family papers are organized around eleven record series.  Series I contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence, dated 1832-1871, arranged in chronological order, of George Nelson Allen.  The majority of letters are between Allen and his wife Caroline Mary Rudd Allen.  Her letters report on their engagement, religious concerns, life in Oberlin, and family news.  Four folders of outgoing mail of George Nelson Allen, most of which was sent to his wife, reveal their courtship and close relationship throughout their marriage.  Additional correspondents of George Nelson Allen include letters from geologists Ferdinand V. Hayden (d. 1887), James D. Dana (d. 1895), and Nathaniel S. Shaler (d. 1906).  Series II consists of the incoming and outgoing correspondence, dated 1836-1849, 1875-1891, of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen.  Much of the incoming correspondence was received during her time (about 1836-1841) at Oberlin College.  Included here are letters from Aunt Sally Rudd (d. 1841) urging her to come to Oberlin to attend classes at the new college, as well as letters from the Rudd family in Connecticut reporting on daily life.  Other correspondents include her parents Hezekiah Rudd (d. 1867) and Maria Deforest Rudd (d. 1828), and brother Charles Deforest Rudd (d. ?).  Also contained in Series II is the outgoing correspondence, dated 1870-1891, of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen.  The majority of the letters were written after the Allens moved to Cincinnati in 1874.  Included here are letters to her daughters Carrie N. Allen (104 items, dated 1875-1891) and Alice Allen (5 items, dated 1881-1884).  These detail day-to-day activities in Mt. Auburn, the health of George Nelson Allen, and the family.  Letters written to George Nelson Allen by his wife Caroline Mary Rudd Allen are located in Series I.

Series III consists of correspondence of the Allen children.  Almost exclusively incoming correspondence, the series is organized around three subseries:  1. Correspondence (incoming) of Carrie N. Allen, dated 1865-1924; 2. Correspondence (incoming) of Alice W. Allen, dated 1871-1906; and, 3. Correspondence (incoming and outgoing) of other Allen Children, dated 1875-1906.  The majority of the letters were received by Carrie and Alice Allen.  Only a few letters, incoming and outgoing, survived from Frederic Deforest Allen (d. 1897) and George M. Allen (d. 1922).  Correspondence to and from Rosa Dale Allen is located in the William C. Cochran family papers (30/8) and the Laurence H. and Francis C. MacDaniels papers (30/276), except the letters she wrote to her sisters Alice Allen and Carrie Allen.  Subseries 1 contains incoming correspondence of Carrie N. Allen.  Most letters were received from sister Alice Allen (33 items, dated 1865-1893) and demonstrate the closeness between the two sisters as they discussed fashion, life as teachers, and the Allen family in Oberlin and Cincinnati.  Nine letters, dated 1882, and 1891-1894, were received from Mary Pennfield Ament (Class of 1875), wife of revivalist William S. Ament (Class of 1873), during their time as missionaries in Peking, China.  Other correspondents include brother George M. Allen (1 item, dated 1885), sister-in-law Helen Hudson Allen (Mrs. George M. Allen; 6 items, dated 1885 and 1923-1924), and friend Mary K. Munroe (12 items, dated 1908-1914).  Subseries 2 consists of incoming correspondence of Alice Allen.  Most letters were received from sisters Carrie N. Allen (33 items, dated 1880-1903) and Rosa Dale Allen Cochran (15 items, dated 1876-1902).  These letters report on the daily life and activities of the Allen and Cochran families in Mt. Auburn often mentioning the young Cochran children.  Other correspondents of Alice Allen include brother Frederic Deforest Allen (8 items, dated 1873-1881) and Aunt Susan Allen Wright (11 items, dated 1893 and 1898-1902).  Subseries 3 contains a small number of letters, incoming and outgoing, of Frederic Deforest Allen, his wife Emmeline Allen (d. 1910), and George M. Allen.  This includes extracts of letters received in 1897 by Emmeline Allen upon the death of her husband, as well as six letters, dated 1875-1891, from Frederic Deforest Allen to his mother Caroline Mary Rudd Allen during his time in Boston.

Series IV contains the inherited correspondence (including photocopies) of the Rudd and Deforest families, both related to Caroline Mary Rudd Allen (her father was a Rudd while her mother was a Deforest).  Chronologically arranged, this series is organized around four subseries:  1. Correspondence (incoming and outgoing) of Nancy Deforest Allen (aunt of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen) and husband Jason Allen, dated 1804-1828; 2. Correspondence received by Abigail Rudd (Shelton) (sister of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen), dated 1826-1837; 3. Correspondence received by Sally Rudd (aunt of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen), dated 1823-1841; and, 4. Correspondence received by Mr. and Mrs. Asa Mahan/Sally Rudd, dated 1830-1836.  Subseries 1 contains letters received by Nancy Deforest Allen.  Most of the letters are from her sister Maria Deforest Rudd (mother of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen), reporting on her attendance of school and other family matters in Litchfield, Connecticut.  Other correspondents include brother Charles Deforest and father Othniel Deforest.  Subseries 2 consists of the incoming correspondence, dated 1826-1837, of Abigail Rudd Shelton.  The oldest child of Hezekiah Rudd, Abigail received letters mostly from her cousin Catharine Allen (daughter of Nancy Deforest Allen) and Aunt Sally Rudd (sister of Hezekiah Rudd).  Letters from Sally Rudd are especially interesting as they discuss topics concerning the Mahan family in Cincinnati and Oberlin, as well as Sally's quest to bring Caroline Mary Rudd Allen to Oberlin to study at the college.  Subseries 3 contains letters received, dated 1823-1841, by Sally Rudd during her time in Cincinnati with the secretary of the Western Board of the Agency of the American Education Society, Reverend Franklin Vail, and with the Mahan family in Cincinnati and Oberlin.  Topics mentioned include Sally's push to bring Caroline Mary Rudd Allen to Oberlin (with discussion from many Rudd family members), abolitionism, religion, and life in Connecticut.  Nephew Hezekiah Fiske Rudd, niece Abigail Rudd (Shelton), Rebecca Gray, and Clarissa Palmer, are among the scores of correspondents of Sally Rudd.  Subseries 4 contains a small amount of correspondence, dated 1830-1836, addressed to both Sally Rudd and Mrs. Mary Mahan (3 items), Mrs. Mary Mahan (3 items), and Mr. and Mrs. Asa Mahan (2 items).

Series V consists of diaries, journals, and notes taken by George Nelson Allen, dating between 1863 and 1871.  The series is separated into two subseries:  1. Jamaica journals of George N. Allen, 2 volumes, dated 1863-1864; and, 2. Geological diaries and notes of George N. Allen, dated 1863-1871.  Allen's diaries and journals primarily reflect his scientific pursuits, including two journals kept while in Jamaica between 1863-1864.  These documents describe many aspects of the island, including its natural history specimens and the character of the natives.  Subseries 2 contains extensive documentation (diary, field notes, and journal) of Allen's experiences as part of the United States Geological Survey of Yellowstone National Park in 1871 under Ferdinand V. Hayden.  Series VI contains a significant body of lectures and lecture notes of George Nelson Allen, which are a key source to discovering how college students were educated in the mid-19th century.  Focusing on science, Allen's lecture notes add considerably to the understanding of his teaching of science, particularly how he related religion to science and rationalized the harmony that existed between the two.  Two undated files strongly demonstrate his beliefs:  "Biblical Interpretation (Genesis)," and "Science and Revelations: Their Correlations and Limitations."  Other lecture notes and outlines discuss chemistry, geology, zoology, and geography.  Included here also is a speech given by Maria Deforest Rudd to the Female Society of Colchester, Connecticut, either in 1811 or 1812.

Series VII contains samples of Allen's musical writing abilities.  Only partially documented, Allen's written and compiled music (including photocopies) provides evidence of the simplicity and earnestness of his compositions.  Pieces include "The Ocean Burial" and "Oh Bury Me Not in the Churchyard."  Similarly, the pocket hymnals, compiled for the Oberlin Social and Sabbath School (six volumes, 1846, 1850, 1852, and 1854) attest to his efforts to promote spirituality among the masses.  Also of interest is music printed by Allen for the Oberlin Choir (c. 1843) and the Musical Union (n.d.).  Allen would obtain dies of music to be used by the choir and then would make copies as necessary (see Oberlin Alumni Magazine, May 1930, p. 233).

Series VIII consists of a small number of certificates, dated 1820-1910, that were awarded to the Allen family.  Included here are several certificates from the Oberlin Sabbath School (dated 1858-1872) awarded to Carrie, Alice, and Rosa Dale Allen for attendance.  Other materials contained in this series include a 1831 document certifying George Nelson Allen as a volunteer fireman in Boston and "Rewards of Merit" (dated c. 1820s) from his childhood school in Mansfield, Massachusetts.  Also included here are Oberlin College diplomas for George Nelson Allen (A.B. 1838) and Caroline Mary Rudd (A.B. 1841).

Series IX contains miscellaneous files relating to the Allen family.  Documents in this series include a file containing obituaries of several Allen family members, including Carrie, George N., and Rosa Dale Allen, as well as an undated anonymous authored document detailing the family history of the Rudds.  These files contain materials relating to George Nelson Allen, including files relating to his Oberlin teaching appointments (dated 1842, 1853, n.d.), the lenses of his eyeglasses (n.d.), and a 1870 contract purchasing a plot at the Westwood Cemetery in Oberlin.  Other documents include Carrie N. Allen's 1870s autograph book (featuring signatures of the Allen family) and cultural and religious publications collected by the Allen family (dated 1830s-1910s).

Series X Writings was added in 2002 as a late addition to the Allen Family Papers.  This series illustrates George N. Allen's work in natural history.  Found here are two booklets written by Allen on mineralogy (1866) and zoology (1867).  Also included in this series are three statements (1859, 1870, n.d.) describing the Cabinet of Natural History (later called the Oberlin College Museum) and discussing the museum's needs.

Series XI consists of an impressive collection of photographs in a variety of formats:  daguerreotypes, tintypes, and photographic albums.  Two photo albums belonged to William C. Cochran.  The images prominently feature members of the Allen family, but also include William C. Cochran, Charles Grandison Finney and his wife Elizabeth, and Julia M. Read (Mrs. S.P. Daniels, Class of 1841).  Allen family images feature early daguerreotypes of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen, Carrie Allen, and George Nelson Allen, as well as a wide number of photographs of the Allen family.  Included here also is a photograph of John and Hope Cox Pope, given to Carrie N. Allen in 1901, and an undated image of Susan Allen Wright.


Series Descriptions

Series I. Correspondence of George N. Allen, 1832-1871 (0.4 l.f.)

Separated into two subseries, and arranged chronologically, this series contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence of George Nelson Allen. Most correspondence is with his wife, but other key recipients are Ferdinand V. Hayden, James D. Dana, and Nathaniel Shaler.

Series II. Correspondence of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen, 1836-1849, 1875-1891 (0.4 l.f.)

Contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence (including photocopies) of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen. Separated into two subseries and arranged chronologically (except for outgoing). Most correspondence was received during her time of study (about 1836-1841) at Oberlin College. Outgoing mail (except those letters addressed to George Nelson Allen) was sent following the Allen's move to Cincinnati in 1874. Most outgoing correspondence is addressed to daughter Carrie N. Allen (104 items, dated 1875-1891). More modest correspondence exist for Alice Allen (5 items, dated 1881-1884) and Hezekiah Rudd (1 item, dated 1870).

Series III. Correspondence of Allen Children, 1865-1924 (0.4 l.f.)

This series is organized around three subseries, which are filed alphabetically and thereunder chronologically: 1. Correspondence (incoming) of Carrie N. Allen, 1865-1924; 2. Correspondence (incoming) of Alice Allen, 1874-1906; and, 3. Correspondence (incoming and outgoing) of other Allen Children, 1875-1906. Correspondents of Carrie N. Allen include letters from her sisters Rosa Dale Allen (5 items, dated 1876-1877) and Alice Allen (33 items, dated 1865-1893), and Mary K. Munroe (12 items, dated 1908-1914). Frederic Deforest Allen (8 items, dated 1873-1881), Susan Allen Wright (11 items, dated 1893 and 1898-1903), and sisters Rosa Dale (15 items, dated 1876-1902) and Carrie Allen (33 items, dated 1881-1903) were among the correspondents of Alice Allen. Also included in Series III is a small number of letters received and sent by Frederic Deforest Allen, his wife Emmeline Allen, and George M. Allen.

Series IV. Correspondence of Rudd-Deforest Family Members, 1804-1841 (0.4 l.f.)

This series is separated into four subseries: 1. Correspondence (incoming and outgoing) of Nancy Deforest Allen and husband Jason Allen, 1804-1828; 2. Correspondence received by Abigail Rudd Shelton, 1826-1837; 3. Correspondence received by Sally Rudd, 1823-1841; and, 4. Correspondence received by Mr. and Mrs. Asa Mahan/Sally Rudd, 1830-1836. Correspondents of Nancy Deforest Allen include mainly letters from her sister Maria Deforest Rudd, as well as a letter from Jason Allen to Hezekiah Rudd describing the death of Nancy Deforest Allen. Letters received by Abigail Rudd Shelton (mainly from Catharine Allen and Sally Rudd) and by Sally Rudd discuss events of the day and Sally's push to have Caroline Mary Rudd Allen come to Oberlin to receive an education. Correspondents of Mr. and Mrs. Asa Mahan/Sally Rudd include Clarissa Palmer (3 items, dated 1833-1834) and R.M. Sheldon (2 items, dated 1830 and 1833). The documents, which are arranged chronologically, provide a backdrop to the families that married into the Allen line.

Series V. Diaries, Journals and Notes File, 1863-1871 (0.2 l.f.)

This series contains extensive documentation of the 1871 U.S. Geological Survey to Yellowstone, including a diary and field notes. Two journals of an 1863-1864 visit to Jamaica offer fascinating information about the island and the people who lived there. Other items include general notes on geology and conchology (a branch of zoology that deals with shells and mollusks). Arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically in two subseries: 1. Jamaica Journals; and, 2. Geological Diaries and Notes.

Series VI. Lecture Notes/Presentations File, 1811, c. 1850s-c. 1870s (0.1 l.f.)

Consists of samples of George Nelson Allen's lectures while teaching at Oberlin College. Especially interesting, among other lecture notes, are two undated lectures titled "Biblical Interpretation (Genesis)" and "Science and Revelations: Their Correlations and Limitations." Included here also is a speech given by Maria Deforest Rudd before the Female Society of Colchester, Connecticut, in 1811 or 1812. Files are organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

Series VII. Hymn Books and Music File, 1846-1860 (0.3 l.f.)

Contains the hymn books and music (including photocopies) of George Nelson Allen. Included here are hymn books (6 vols., dated 1846, 1850, 1852, 1854) compiled by Allen for use by the Oberlin Social and Sabbath School (founded in the 1830s by John Jay Shipherd). Other documents include printed music, featuring an undated piece titled "The Ocean Burial" and an 1846 composition (photocopy) titled "Far, Far Away." Materials are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically. Also found here are samples of music printed by Allen for the use of the Oberlin Choir (c. 1843) and the Musical Union (n.d.).

Series VIII. Certificates and Diplomas, 1820-1910 (0.1 l.f.)

Consists of certificates awarded to members of the Allen family. Included here are certificates given to Carrie, Rosa, and Alice Allen by the Oberlin Sabbath School. Included also is an 1831 document certifying George Nelson Allen as a volunteer fireman in the 10th city ward of Boston. Also filed here are Oberlin College diplomas of G. N. Allen (A.B. 1838) and Caroline Mary Rudd (A.B. 1841). The files are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

Series IX. Miscellaneous Materials File, 1830-1910 (0.4 l.f.)

Contains miscellaneous files relating to the Allen family. Files include Allen-Wright family obituaries, dated 1880-1920, an undated Rudd family genealogy, and materials documenting George Nelson Allen's professional appointments at Oberlin College. Other files present include Carrie N. Allen's 1870s autograph book and George Nelson Allen's 1870 purchase contract of a plot at Westwood Cemetery in Oberlin, Ohio, as well as collected religious (dated c. 1830-c. 1910) and cultural (dated 1855, n.d.) publications of the Allen family. Materials are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

Series X. Writings, 1859-70, n.d. (0.1 l.f.)
(this series was added as a late addition to the Allen Family Papers in January 2002)

Consists of writings by George Nelson Allen on natural history subjects. Includes booklets on mineralogy and zoology as well as a circular and reports about the Cabinet of Natural History (later known as the Oberlin College Museum).

Series XI. Non-Textual Materials File, 1850-1890 (0.6 l.f.)
(formerly Series X)

Consists of three photographic albums, daguerreotypes, a drawing, and photographs. Two photographic albums, dated c. 1860s, belonged to William C. Cochran, and show Cochran progress in age from a child into an adult. Daguerreotypes include early images of Caroline Mary Rudd Allen (dated 1853?), Carrie N. Allen (dated c. 1850s), George Nelson Allen (n.d.), and Charles Grandison Finney (dated c. 1850s). Photographs depict all members of the Allen family, as well as William C. Cochran (dated c. 1860s), Susan Allen Wright (n.d.), and John and Hope Cox Pope (dated 1901). Images are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

Provenance

The George Nelson Allen papers were received in six separate accessions recorded from 1968 to 1992.  The initial lot of papers was received from the Oberlin College Library in December of 1968.  Beginning in 1973 to 1996 other installments were received in open-ended accessions from family members including Mary Rudd Cochran ('03), Frances Ermina Cochran MacDaniels ('12), Ellen MacDaniels Speers ('42), and Carolyn Rudd MacDaniels Miller ('47).  In 1992 and 1997, during the retrospective conversion of the George Nelson Allen Papers, three diaries (Samuel D. Cochran, William C. Cochran, and Helen Finney Cochran Cox) were separated from this collection and filed with the Cochran Papers (30/8).  One letter written to Alice or Carrie Allen in 1894, filed with the Cochran papers, was separated from that collection and filed with the Allen correspondence.  As part of the Oberliniana transfer project in 2001-02, writings by G. N. Allen, music prepared for the use of the Oberlin Choir and Musical Union, and the diplomas of G. N. Allen and Caroline M. Rudd Allen were received from the Oberlin College Library, Department of Special Collections (acc. 2001/94 and 2002/4). Ellen Speers donated two specimens from Allen’s “Cabinet Collection” in 2004.

Related Materials
Additional material regarding George Nelson Allen may be found in the following institutional collections: Oberlin College Board of Trustees and Prudential Committee (RG 1), Papers of President James Harris Fairchild (RG 2/3), Office of the Secretary (RG 5), Office of the Treasurer (RG 7), and Alumni Records (RG 28). Personal papers groups containing material relating to Allen include: Jacob Dolson Cox Papers (RG 30/3), William C. Cochran Papers (RG 30/8), James Monroe Papers (RG 30/22), Robert S. Fletcher Papers (RG 30/24), and Mary Rudd Cochran Papers (RG 30/282). A letter about George N. Allen is in the correspondence of Presidential Assistant William F. Bohn (RG 3/1). See RG 9/12 for the records of the Oberlin College Museum (or Cabinet of Natural History).
 
 
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