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Allen, John W. (John Willis) (1887-1969) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Allen, John W. (John Willis) (1887-1969)

Historical Note:

John Willis Allen, teacher and historian, was born in 1887 near the village of Broughton, Hamilton County, Illinois.

Mr. Allen became a teacher after completing the eighth grade and passing a teacher's examination in 1907.  He taught in a one-room school for four years.  He subsequently fulfilled his service in the field of education with four years as principal of a Harrisburg ward school, and 15 years as superintendent of city schools, 13 years in Eldorado and two at Fairfield.

His education was also enhanced by his attendance at Southern Illinois Normal University (SINU) intermittently from 1908-1926 and the University of Illinois in 1930.

For sixteen years he was Historical Director of the University Museum at Southern Illinois University. Altogether, he spent 50 years researching, lecturing, and writing on local history, folklore, and pioneer crafts and culture. From 1953 to 1967, John Allen wrote a weekly series of articles about Southern Illinois that was circulated by more than three hundred newspapers. The popular appeal of John Allen's stories about his favorite region is evidenced by four printings of his first volume, Legends & Lore of Southern Illinois, first published in 1963. John Willis Allen died on August 29, 1969, at the age of 81 years.

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