According to the recollections of Charles and Robert Allen, descendants of the Allen family, two Allen brothers came to Virginia from Northern Ireland during the mid-eighteenth century. They settled for a time in Virginia, and their descendants later moved to Kentucky. Charles and Robert's grandfather, Joseph, left Kentucky and settled in Indiana. One of Joseph Allen's sons, Artemus Ward Allen, served in the 73rd and in the 149th Ind. Vol. Inf. during the Civil War. Another son, Ezra Fiske Allen, was a teacher in Indiana and became a professor of mathematics at Eastern Illinois State Normal School in Charleston, Ill. Joseph Newton Allen, a third son, was an educator in Kansas. He later became involved with real estate in Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
This collection contains papers and correspondence of the Allen family from 1803 to 1913. The correspondence includes five Civil War letters of Artemus Ward Allen and one from G. C. Smith, a doctor with the 43rd Indiana. These letters contain comments on life in the Army, Gens. McClellan and Halleck, and the Emancipation Proclamation. There are also several letters and documents about the educational career of Ezra Fiske Allen as well as letters of Florence and Lucy Allen. The collection also includes letters from Joseph Newton Allen recounting his activities in the Indian Territory. In addition there are legal documents concerning land transactions in Kentucky and Indiana, and a note of Dec. 31, 1844, signed by the heirs of Joseph and Frances Allen regarding the sale of slaves.
Charles and Robert Allen and Deborah Allen Gutschera donated the collection to the Library in 1972. Charles Allen made an addition to the collection in 1977.