• Identification00067227
  • TitleDescriptive inventory for Waldo M. Allen papers, 1891-1957
  • PublisherChicago Historical Society
  • RepositoryChicago History Museum Research Center 1601 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614-6038
  • OriginationWaldo M. Allen
  • Date1891-1957
  • Physical Description
    • 1.5 linear feet (3 boxes)
    • 1 oversize folder
  • Location
    • MSS Lot A
    • MSS Oversize A
  • LanguageEnglish

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

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

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.

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.

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

The Waldo M. Allen papers were processed by Ralph A. Pugh in 1991; the descriptive inventory was later revised by Jennifer Asimakopolis.

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

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

Series 1. Correspondence (box 1-3)

The bulk of the Waldo M. Allen papers consist of correspondence to or from Allen and his immediate family, including a letter his great-grandfather Myron D. Downs to Allen's mother, Jane Elizabeth (Durand) Allen, as well as 4th grade drawings of trees and flowers, school compositions, and a certificate of completion for his elementary studies. Many letters to his parents detail his service during World War I and later letters to his wife describe his brief service during the early years of World War II. Other materials include personal correspondence sent by Allen between 1903-1942. Some correspondence pertains to Allen's time at Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois, and his college years at Yale University and letters between Allen and his client, Charles C. Goodwin, between 1947-1957 detailing stock transactions while Allen was employed by the firm of Mitchell, Hutchins and Company.

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

Contains references and notes for Waldo M. Allen's religious studies while at Yale, newspaper clippings and booklet regarding the family firm of Durand and Kasper (later Durand, Kasper and Homer Co.), booklets and pamphlets pertaining to U.S. participation in World War I, materials regarding the Yale class of 1916's 1936 reunion, and miscellaneous family ephemera.