The Abigail Van Allen papers date from 1968-2008 and are organized into three series: Personal, Restoration of Old Capitol, Iowa City City Council, and Artifacts.
The Personal series dates from 1968-2008 and is comprised of correspondence, community organizing materials, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia. The correspondence largely consists of notes and cards sent to Van Allen and her husband by family and friends, offering thanks for favors or updating the couple on life events. Additional materials reflect the Van Allen's membership in Iowa City's First Presbyterian Church and the establishment of Van Allen Elementary (named for James) in North Liberty, Iowa. Included as well are letters and educational materials reflecting Abigail Van Allen's support for the preservation and restoration of Iowa City's Old Brick Church, which was threatened with demolition in the 1970s and which required continued fundraising and repair in the decades following.
The Restoration of Old Capitol series dates from 1972-1976 and reflects Van Allen's work to restore the Old Capitol Building in Iowa City and educate the community on the building's connection to Iowa history. Much of the material in this series concerns Van Allen's service as the chair of the Iowa School Children's Campaign for the Restoration of Old Capitol, a project encouraging elementary school children to support the building's renovation and develop creative projects to celebrate the building and its history. The correspondence in this series records Van Allen's commissioning of a children's history of Old Capitol, her coordination of class trips and dissemination of learning materials, and even letters from children thanking her for presentations she gave at area schools. Included also are scripts of those presentations, notes for speeches, lists of projects and learning activities to suggest to students and educators, and names of schools and students who contributed to the fundraising effort.
The Iowa City City Council series dates from 1972-1990 and reflects Van Allen's involvement in Iowa City's Planning and Zoning Commission. Included are meeting descriptions and schedules, correspondence, notes taken at meetings, and City Council reports. Much of the material concerns the environmental impact of flood plain development; in correspondence for this series Van Allen described herself as an "avid conservationist."
The Artifacts series is comprised of material related to the restoration of the Old Capitol Building. Included are drawings by school children, a jigsaw puzzle, and a brass plaque from the assembly room.