Educator, writer, activist, Hilda Ellyson Allen was born in 1888 in West Branch, Iowa, to Emma and Sewell Ellyson. After graduating from West Branch High School, Allen completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1910 at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in Iowa City, Iowa. While in college Hilda Ellyson met her future husband, George Eugene Allen, a fellow student who received an AB in History, Political Economy and Political Science in 1909. Hilda and George Allen were married June 18, 1912 in West Branch, Iowa and enjoyed a brief honeymoon at the Palisades in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. Following the nuptials George returned to Chicago and Hilda continued to live in Iowa. The couple would later have three children: Sewell, Philip and Hermione.
Following college graduation Hilda Allen taught English and Public Speaking at Osage High School in Osage, Iowa from 1911-1912. Allen's interest in English and literature extended to an active writing career in which she published numerous short stories and articles. Allen also read and extensively clipped book reviews. In addition to an interest in writing, Allen explored the Arts through her reading and personal sketches and was an active member of a number of organizations. She was involved with the literary branch of the Onawa Woman's Club and served with the American Red Cross during World War II.
George Eugene Allen (1887-1944) was born to May Jane and Philip Allen. While at the State University of Iowa, George Allen was a member of the debate team and the Delta Chi Fraternity. Allen maintained contact with his fraternity brothers beyond his college years as both a mentor to younger members and recipient of assistance and advice during his efforts to establish himself as a lawyer. George Allen pursued his law degree at the State University of Iowa Law School, but failed out in February 1910. He later completed his studies at the University of Chicago Law School. Upon graduating from law school George Allen practiced law in Sioux City, Iowa, Moville, Iowa, and in 1915 opened 'Oliver & Allen, Attorneys at Law' in Onawa, Iowa.
Sewell Allen, born in 1913, was the first child of George and Hilda Ellyson Allen. In 1931 Sewell graduated from Onawa High School where he had been active in drama, forensics, and the Order of Demolay for Boys. Following his high school graduation Sewell attended Compton Junior College in California before attending the State University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. While attending the University Sewell continued his interests in drama and forensics and was active with the Inter-Collegiate Civic League and Delta Chi fraternity. Sewell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1935, after which he went on to earn a law degree.
Sewell Allen joined his father's law practice in Onawa upon passing the Iowa State Bar. In 1941 Sewell was elected to the Iowa General Assembly as a legislator despite his young age. Sewell enlisted in the army in 1942 and served in the European war theater during 1944 and 1945. He married his high school sweetheart Frannie Whiting of Whiting, Iowa on March 17, 1943 while on furlough in Washington, D.C. where Frannie worked for the Federal Housing Commission. The couple had their first child, Stephen, in 1944. Stephen was eventually followed by a brother, Sewell, and a sister, Lisa. Sewell Allen returned to his law practice after the war. (His father and law partner George Allen had died in December 1944) Following his return to Iowa Sewell was named the Democratic County Chairman for Monona County.
Philip Allen was born in 1915. He attended Onawa Grade School where he served as cartoonist for the school paper. (Unfortunately, the only two copies of the paper in the collection do not contain any of his artwork.) Phil Allen attended Onawa High School where he was on the State Champion debate team. After graduating from high school he attended the State University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. While attending the University he was active in speech and forensics, the Young Democrats, Delta Chi fraternity, and worked at the university's radio station WSUI.
Though Phil Allen talked about attending law school, upon graduation from the university he found immediate employment in the field of radio. Between 1936 and 1943 he worked at various radio stations in Nebraska, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wisconsin. In 1939 Phil Allen married Pauline ________. They had three children, George (born 1941), David (born 1944) and PJ. Drafted in 1944, Phil served in World War II in the Japanese theater of action. While working at WISN in Milwaukee in 1948 he took classes in Spanish and law at Marquette University. By 1951 he was teaching at the University of Omaha in Nebraska.
Hermione Georgette Allen was born on November 2, 1917 in Onawa, Iowa. Hermione Allen attended Onawa Grade School where she first demonstrated her flair for writing poems and short stories. During these early years Hermione was active in the Camp Fire Girls. While attending Onawa High School, Hermione, like her brothers, was active in forensics. Like her older brother Sewell, Hermione was also an honor roll student. She was a member of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls. After graduating from high school, Hermione Allen attended the State University of Iowa. She declared English as her major and speech as her minor with the intention of teaching English and speech after graduation. While attending the University Hermione Allen was active in debate, the Young Democrats Club, the Gavel Club and the Honors English Group. She earned extra money working as a postal clerk at Currier Residence Hall and was a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. She graduated in 1939. On February 5, 1942 Hermione married Clarence Potter Baker. They began their married life in Manhattan, Kansas. They had one child, Hugh, born in 1944.