Skip to main content

Julia Allen Papers

Identifier: RG 09-9.01

Scope and Contents

This collection contains records and materials outlining Julia Allen’s contributions to Berea College, her wide circle of friends, and her engagement with social causes.  The collection contains clippings, correspondence, notes, and scholarly papers.


  • created: 1935-1974
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1935-1939


Conditions Governing Access

Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

Federal copyright regulations apply.  Cite all information.  Some items may be restricted if they contain personal information.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dean of Women, Upper Division (1939-1948); Dean of Women, College (1948-1959)

Note written by


4.00 ms_boxes

Language of Materials



Julia Allen (1896-1974) was recruited to Berea College in 1932 as Assistant Dean of Women to succeed Katherine Bowersox, who had been Dean of Women since 1907. A Kentucky native, Allen studied at both Mt. Holyoke and the University of Chicago. Allen also had worked in a factory, tutored Italian children in Chicago, and directed YWCA summer camps. For five years she had taught Chinese girls at a mission school in Nanking. Her genuine interest in the students, her humor, intellect, and strong commitment to social justice made her influential in Berea for over forty years. Allen, in addition to being Dean of Women, was a housemother to the students in Hunting Hall (a male residence hall). She loved the outdoors, and frequently took groups of students, both men and women, on nature walks, hikes, and camping expeditions. During her tenure she encouraged women students to govern themselves within the dormitory system.  She worked with the YWCA on campus and beyond, and was active in the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  After retiring from the Dean’s office (1959), she continued to teach part-time in the history department, introducing the first non-western courses taught at the college. After her second retirement, she taught for another semester at Tougaloo Southern Christian College in Mississippi and accepted a post on the National Board of the YWCA. A Christian social activist, Allen endeavored to fight prejudice, war, and poverty throughout her career. At one point she ran for office on the Socialist ticket. One of her most daring exploits occurred in 1938, when she led an integrated team of six students from different colleges (including one from Berea) to Arkansas to survey the living conditions of members of the Southern Farmers Tenant Union. The team stayed in the homes of union members and joined in union rallies and church services. Allen integrated a professional society of Deans of Women in Kentucky while she was President in 1940-41, and made sure that when the regional YWCA met on the Berea College campus it was an integrated gathering. After her retirement she recruited alumni to protest Berea’s failure to host civil rights volunteers in 1964. In 1970 Centre College honored her as a distinguished alumna.  Her health deteriorated over the next few years and she died on January 23, 1974.  At news of her death, many people whose lives she touched wrote letters of condolence to Dorothy Tredennick (Berea 1946) the Berea professor with whom Julia resided.

Arrangement Note

Arrangement of the collection is in series as follows: Series 1: Biographical and Personal; Series: Social and Political Activities; Series 3: Speeches; Series 4: China Mission Print Materials and Correspondence; and Series 5: Travel Diaries, Notebooks, Printed Items, and Other

Processing Information

Additional processing of materials, with the inclusion of four additional boxes of materials, took place in 2016. The finding aid was updated at that time with the rearrangement and addition of series. (Lori Myers-Steele, Collections Archivist)

Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US