Allen family papers  1814-1893
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Allen family papers contain personal correspondence of the family of John Allen, a preacher in Northborough, Massachusetts. He and his sons, Joseph Henry Allen, Thomas Prentiss Allen, and William Francis Allen, often discussed antebellum politics and other matters of intellectual concern, including slavery and abolition.

The Correspondence series (260 items) consists primarily of personal correspondence between family members. Thomas Prentiss Allen composed many of these letters, though his brothers and their sister Elizabeth also contributed. The well-educated Allens discussed a wide range of personal and political topics, and their letters provide a vivid picture of the politically charged antebellum era. They often shared opinions on local and national politics, emphasizing the conflicts over slavery that eventually erupted into secession and Civil War. Notably, Thomas Prentiss Allen expounded at length on Daniel Webster's famous speech urging support of the Compromise of 1850 and offered his own opinions on the political issues involved, including the Wilmot Proviso (March 24, 1850). Other letters of particular interest concern the Free Soil party and the Fugitive Slave Act (December 10, 1850 and January 9, 1851). Elizabeth Allen wrote a majority of the later items in the collection to Joseph Allen, her father, communicating a view of her life on the home front during the Civil War and occasionally mentioning the war and domestic politics.

The Pamphlets series (2 items) contains the following two items:

  • Fathers and Children, containing manuscript essays based on Biblical verses (September 1842)
  • A Discourse on Occasion of the Death of Hon. John Quincy Adams..., by Joseph Henry Allen (1848)

The Photographs series (2 items) contains two 19th-century portraits printed on thick cards.

The Miscellaneous series (5 items) contains a newspaper clipping regarding the death of William Francis Allen, as well as four manuscripts about various topics.

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