Descriptive inventory for the Waldo M. Allen papers, 1891-1957

Waldo M. Allen papers

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Descriptive inventory for the Waldo M. Allen papers, 1891-1957

Prepared by Carroll Mickey and Mindy C. Pugh, 1991; rev. by Jennifer Asimakopoulos; 2005 rev. by Alan Akers, 2015.
Please address questions to:
Chicago History Museum, Research Center
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-6038
Instructions for accessing this collection

Collection Overview +/-

Title: Waldo M. Allen papers, 1891-1957 (inclusive)
Creator: Waldo M. Allen
Dates: 1891-1957 (inclusive)
Accession number: 1984.0754
Bib number: 00067227
Call numbers: MSS Lot A
MSS Oversize A
Size:1.5 linear feet (3 boxes)
1 oversize folder
Language of material:Collection is written in English.

Provenance statement:

Gift of Mrs. Waldo M. Allen (Mary Allen) in August 1984 (1984.0754).

Terms governing use:

Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.


This collection is open for research use.

Please cite this collection as:

Please cite this collection as Waldo M. Allen papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Additional Materials +/-

Related material:

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include a copy of the published history of the 331st Regiment compiled by Allen.

Separated material:

Photographs (92) were transferred to the Prints and Photographs collections. Most photographs (90) are of the 331st Field Artillery Regiment, most of which were taken in France in 1918. Also included in the transfer was a large photograph of the 43rd annual reunion of the Chicago Board of Trade Battery Association, dated May 29, 1909, and a small framed ambrotype identified as "Harriet Morgan Allen: Grandma Allen" from around the 1850s.

A gas mask, portable mess kit, water canteen, eye goggles and a button bearing a white "Y" on a blue background (from the Yale Battalion of Field Artillery), all from Allen's World War I service, were transferred to the Decorative and Industrial Arts Collection.

Collection Summary +/-

The papers of Waldo M. Allen consist largely of letters concerning his family, written by him, by his older brother Calvin Durand Allen, his parents Elisha Hubert and Janet E. (Durand) Allen, and other relatives. Some of the correspondence pertains to the interests and activities of Waldo Allen and his brother during their student years at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois, the Hill School in Pennsylvania, and Yale University, from roughly 1906 to 1916. In a series of letters to his parents, Allen traces his training for military service at Fort Sheridan and Camp Grant, Illinois, and provides a detailed account of his experience as an officer of the 331st Artillery Regiment. The regiment was part of the American Expeditionary Forces shipped to France in World War I and was encamped near Bordeaux until the Armistice. There is also some routine correspondence between Allen and his wife Mary (Penfield) Allen while he served temporarily in 1942 as executive officer of the Rockford District of the Organized Reserves of Illinois. Included in the family correspondence are two brief letters written in 1891 to Allen's mother by a great grandfather, Myron D. Downs; letters written by Calvin Durand Allen while he was in military service at Fort Sell, Oklahoma, and Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, and miscellaneous correspondence received by Allen from 1919 to 1923 and from 1935 to 1937.

In addition to the family correspondence, the papers include an exchange of letters with a client, Charles C. Goodwin, which describe in considerable detail stock transactions from 1947-1957. Allen handled the transactions as statistician and solicitor for the brokerage firm of Mitchell, Hutchins and Company.

Among the papers is some memorabilia, including Allen's notes pertaining to his leadership in religious education while he was a student at Yale University, news clippings and booklets on American participation in World War I, and news items concerning the twenty-fifth reunion of the Yale University Class of 1916.

Biographical/Historical Note +/-

Waldo M. Allen, who served in the military in both world wars, was born in Orange, New Jersey, on February 17, 1893, to Elisha Hubert Allen and Janet Elizabeth (Durand) Allen. His maternal grandfather, Calvin Durand (1840-1911) and his uncle Henry Calvin Durand (1869-1929) were leaders in the wholesale grocery business in Chicago as members of the firm, Durand and Kasper (established in 1856 as Durand and Powers). Waldo and his older brother, Calvin Durand Allen (born 1890), attended Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois, the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and Yale University, graduating from the latter school in 1916.

While attending Yale University, Allen joined the Yale Battalion of Field Artillery and served as supply sergeant of Battery D. During the Mexican border dispute, the Yale Battalion was formed as the 10th Field Artillery of the Connecticut National Guard, which trained at Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1916. In the following year Allen was a member of the first ROTC class at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, and in August 1917 he was assigned to the 331st Field Artillery as a Second Lieutenant and promoted to First Lieutenant in December. After training at Camp Grant, Illinois, the 331st Field Artillery was sent overseas in August 1918 as part of the 86th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The unit trained in a camp near Bordeaux, France, but the armistice was signed before it was sent to the front. Following his return from overseas, Allen compiled and edited a history of his regiment entitled “The 331st Field Artillery, United States Army, 1917-1919,” which was published in 1919.

After release from active military service, Allen became a salesman for Durand, McNeil, Horner Company, which was the product of a merger of Durand and Kasper and two other wholesale grocers in Chicago. He married Mary Penfield of Evanston and established a residence in Lake Forest, Illinois. Later he was associated with Graham and Company, Stock and Grain Brokers, and then he became statistician and solicitor for Mitchell, Hutchins and Company, Brokers. After the outbreak of World War II, he again entered active military service, now in the rank of major, as acting executive of the Rockford District of the Organized Reserves of the Illinois Military Area. This was a temporary assignment that he fulfilled in 1942, and then he returned to his position with the brokerage firm of Mitchell, Hutchins and Company.

Catalog Subject Headings +/-

Camping -- Maine -- 20th century
Families -- Illinois -- Lake Forest -- 20th century
Grocery trade -- Illinois -- Chicago
Outdoor life -- Maine -- 20th century
Preparatory schools -- Illinois -- Lake Forest -- 20th century
Preparatory schools -- Pennsylvania -- Pottstown -- 20th century
Soldiers -- Illinois -- 20th century
Stockbrokers -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century
World War, 1914-1918 -- Illinois
World War, 1914-1918 -- United States -- Regimental histories
Youth -- United States -- 20th century
Allen, Calvin Durand, 1890-1960
Allen, Elisha Hubert
Allen, Janet E. Durand
Allen, Mary Penfield
Allen, Waldo M., 1893-1982 --Archives
Durand, Henry C., 1869-1929
Goodwin, Charles C.
Durand, McNeil, Horner Company (Chicago, Ill.)
Hill School (Pottstown, Pa.) -- Students
Lake Forest Academy -- Students
Mitchell, Hutchins and Company (Chicago, Ill.)
United States. Army. Field Artillery Regiment, 331st. WWI
Yale University -- Students
Chicago Metropolitan Area (Ill.) -- Commerce -- 20th century
Lake Forest (Ill.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century
United States -- Armed Forces -- Reserves

Organization and Arrangement of Collection +/-

The collection is arranged physically into two series with five subseries by subject.

Click on heading to view series description.

Series 1. Correspondence (box 1-3)
Series 2. Notes, publications, and family ephemera (box 3)

About This Finding Aid +/-

Creation: Finding aid encoded by Alan Akers and Julie Wroblewski using Oxygen editor, 2015
Language: Finding aid is written in .
Other Finding Aids: Finding aid also submitted to Explore Chicago Collections portal.
Processing Note:The Waldo M. Allen papers were processed by Mindy C. Pugh in 1991; the descriptive inventory was later revised by Jennifer Asimakopolis.
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