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Devere Allen Papers

Identifier: SCPC-DG-053

Notes on the Devere Allen Papers by historian Charles Chatfield

Devere Allen died on August 27, 1955. The records of the Worldover Press were removed in filing boxes from an office to his home in Wilton Center, Connecticut. They were stored along with his other papers in the library and in the basement of the study. Each of these buildings is independent of the house. The papers in the library remained in good condition; those in the basement were in fair condition, with slight damage.

Allen had given some papers to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. He had indicated that numerous items of historical interest which he held should eventually be deposited with the Collection. He was one of those on the Advisory Council who were eager to see the Peace Collection expand its activities. It was natural, therefore, that upon his death Mrs. Allen sent a few items to the library.

In connection with research on pacifism, Charles Chatfield contacted Mrs. Allen in the summer of 1960 and requested permission to study the Allen papers. When the size and importance of the collection became apparent, and when Mrs. Allen expressed her desire that it be cared for as a whole, the Advisory Council of the Peace Collection agreed to accept her gift.

Through the generosity of the Clement and Grace Biddle Foundation, the Peace Collection was enabled to sponsor the collecting and classifying of the books and papers at Wilton by Charles Chatfield, a task in which Mrs. Allen graciously assisted. In the fall of 1961 the collection was shipped in its entirety to Swarthmore.

Allen's papers are instructive in the socialist-communist-fascist-patriot conflict of the thirties, the progressive spirit in the twenties, and the history and relationships of pacifism, socialism, and international relations.

Scope and Content Notes by Barbara Addison The papers of Devere Allen consist of correspondence (bulk, 1910-1955), biographical material, administrative files, minutes of meetings, biographical material, published and unpublished manuscripts, diaries, newspaper clippings, brochures, flyers, leaflets, periodicals, reference material, posters, lapel buttons, stamps, and photographs. The papers reflect his work as a journalist, editor, newspaper correspondent, author of fiction and non fiction, and as a public speaker.

Devere Allen founded and edited the pacifist journal, The Rational Patriot in 1917-1918. Correspondence, manuscripts, and a complete file of this publication are included. From 1918 through 1921, he was secretary of The Young Democracy and editor of its publication of the same name. Records of The Young Democracy (correspondence, financial and membership records) and a set of Young Democracy (1919-1922) are included.

The collection contains substantial reference files in the areas of liberal youth organizations from the immediate post World-War I period.

Correspondence relating to Allen's tenure (1921-1933) as managing editor and editor of The World Tomorrow is included, together with a complete set of this periodical (1918-1934). There are extensive records of the Nofrontier News Service (1933-1941) and the Worldover Press (1942-1955), including correspondence, business, financial, operational, and promotional files, serial publications, news releases, and clippings.

The collection contains information about the many organizations with which Allen was affiliated, including the American Friends Service Committee, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, the War Resisters League, and War Resisters' International. A complete list of the organizations is found in Series C-5 of this checklist.

There is extensive documentation of Allen's involvement with the Socialist Party (U.S.) at the national, state, and local level. (The Socialist Party of Connecticut was forced to change its name to the Labor Party of Connecticut in 1938). Correspondence and organizational material, both primary and secondary, are found throughout Series C-4. Most of Allen's involvement was between the years 1932 and 1940, although there is a small amount of correspondence after 1940.

The many correspondents of Devere Allen include: Dean Acheson, Jane Addams, Friedrich Adler, Gertrude Baer, Emily Greene Balch, Roger Baldwin, Charles Beard, Russel O. Berg, Landrum Bolling, Heloise Brainerd, Ellen Starr Brinton, Vera Brittain, Fenner Brockway, Heywood Broun, Pearl Buck, Corder Catchpool, Carrie Chapman Catt, E. Dixwell Chase, A. Sprague Coolidge, Maurice Cranston, Merle Curti, Dorothy Detzer, John Dewey, Camille Drevet, W.E.B. DuBois, John Foster Dulles, Crystal Eastman, Albert Einstein, H.C. Engelbrecht, Harold Fey, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Lella Secor Florence, A. Ruth Fry, Marcus Garvey, Donald Grant, Anna M. Graves, Philip Gray, Richard Gregg, Paul Harris, Alfred Hassler, John Hayes Holmes, Jessie Wallace Hughan, Hannah C. Hull, Dorothy Hunt (Mrs. S. Foster Hunt), Grace Hutchins, Samuel Guy Inman, Rufus Jones, David Starr Jordan, Abe Kaufman, Muriel Lester, Alfred Baker Lewis, Fred Libby, A.J. Muste, Tracy Mygatt, Ray Newton, Reinhold Niebuhr, Anna T. Nilsson, Mildred Scott Olmsted, Kirby Page, Sylvia Pankhurst, Clarence E. Pickett, Arthur Ponsonby, Mercedes Randall, Jeannette Rankin, Charles Raven, Reginald Reynolds, Anna Rochester, Romain Rolland, Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Root, Bayard Rustin, Margaret Sanger, John Nevin Sayre, Rosika Schwimmer, Michael Scott, Vida Scudder, Clarence Senior, Rebecca Shelley, Wallace Stegner, Helene Stocker, John Swomley, Norman Thomas, Magda Trocmé, Caroline Urie, Oswald G. Villard, Lillian Wald, Wilfred Wellock, Howard Y. Williams, E. Raymond Wilson, William Worthy, and Art Young. There is an index to significant correspondents.


  • Creation: 1809-1978
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1910-1955


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Physical Access Note

All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Contact Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff at at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.

Notes On Devere Allen by historian Charles Chatfield

Devere Allen was a writer by inclination and a reformer by conviction. Through his written and edited works pulsated social concern, expressed especially in socialism and pacifism. "With reiteration," he wrote in 1930 (The Fight for Peace), "I have borne down on the needs of a more drastic opposition to war, the war system, and its perpetrators." His devotion to this ideal makes Allen worthy of the serious consideration by students of the peace movement; his creative virtuosity, the range of his interests, make him a singularly delightful person to study.

Allen's "drastic opposition to war" began in 1917. Even before the declaration of war he founded and edited The Rational Patriot, a journal of some Oberlin College students who denied that soldiering was the highest form of patriotism, even in wartime. Although heckled by most students, Allen continud to put out his pacifist hournal until in 1918 with his wife, Marie Hollister Allen, he moved to New York to become secretary of a new organization, The Young Democracy, and the editor of its publication of that name. Many of his colleagues saw in The Young Democracy but another youth protest movement; Allen envisioned an international network of liberal youth organizations. He saw clearly that "with his finger on the pulse of a younger and more perceptive generation of trained leaders, the pacifist dares to predict the expansion of the minority concept of constructive peace into a comparatively speedy wold-wide acceptance." (A War-Time Credo). He saw as clearly that international harmony and domestic social reform were two facets of the same movement.

In 1921 Allen took these convictions to The World Tomorrow, a journal closely associated with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He was managing editor until the fall of 1924, an editor until 1931, and from 1932 to 1933 (in 1932 he sojourned as editor of The Nation). Associated with John Nevin Sayre, Anna Rochester, Grace Hutchins, Kirby Page, and Reinhold Niebuhr, Allen was instrumental in makingThe World Tomorrow one of America's most vigorous "little magazines" of the nineteen-twenties. He wrote serious articles, humor, and poetry. His poems were sometimes tender, often sardonic. His various columns represented the crest of his literary powers. They were charged with both wit and social concern. Also in the twenties Allen began to analyze pacifism. He turned to its historical roots and in 1930 published a major history of the American Peace movement. But The Fight for Peace was more than history; it was an analysis of the peace crusade. It purported to show that radical pacifism is demanded to oppose war. His analysis also produced Pacifism in the Modern World (1929), a collection of articles which Allen edited to show the relevance of the pacifist approach to all social problms. From such analyses he projected

Allen urged upon pacifists the "assertive elements in their view of life --participation in the effort to solve social questions rather than withdrawal from them." ("How Practical is Pacifism?" The New Church Messenger, May 7, 1930). He insisted that pacifists be realists, that they recognize the fact of power struggle, the real threats of nationalism, Germany, and Russia, of evil. Only then could they assert morality and love in the real world. Allen was a radical pacifist but he thought in terms of concrete situations and believed that his position and day-to-day judgements not less but rather more difficult. Increasingly, too, Allen identified himself with idealistic socialists led by his friend, Norman Thomas. he sought to apply pacifism to industrial as well as international relations. He was a member of the board of directors of the League for Industrial Democracy. He joined Norman Thomas in opposing violence by labor. He withdrew from the American League Against War and Fascism when he found it impossible to cooperate with Communists even on international programs because of their unprincipled tactics. He was active in the councils on the national Socialist Party, and he invigorated the party in his state of Connecticut. He was a socialist candidate for United States Senator from Connecticut in 1932 and 1934. When in 1938 the party label was captured by the conservative mayor of Bridgeport, Jasper McLevy, Allen ran for governor on the Labor Party Ticket. But as the decade wore on, Allen was increasingly absorbed with international relations.

While withThe World TomorrowAllen had tried in vain to get a four page section carrying news of the world-wide peace movement. At the same time he had become aware of the need to pull together American peace organizations, to make them more aware of international developments, and to reach beyond the thirty thousand subscribers of the magazine. After a European trip in 1930-1931 and the assignment withThe Nation the following year, Devere and Marie Allen launched their No-Frontier News Service in November, 1933. The name was subsequently changed to Worldover Press in 1942. Worldover Press was a news service supplying by 1953 nearly seven hundred newspapers and magazines in sixty-two countries with international news and analysis. The Allens estimated that the total circulation of client papers using their material reached well over twelve million people. The used hundreds of periodicals to add to their perspctive of world events, but they relied upon forty regular overseas correspondents, and sixty special correspondents (sometimes reporters, often professors and writers) for their own news and analysis. Regular weekly bulletins and special reports were sent to religious, labor, peace, and private papers. A fortnightly newsletter, the World Interpreter, was sent to ministers, teachers, other individuals and libraries. In the crisis of 1939, the Allens themselves operated a European Bureau from Belgium; during the war they initiated a Latin American Bureau from Mexico, 1942-1944.

The news agency was not an organ of pacifism. It collected and distributed news of the peace movement, of social and cultural progress, as well as of conflict around the globe. Although it scooped regular news agencies upon occasion, it was not relied upon for everyday news. Although it reported about pacifists, it was not intended as propaganda. Although it indirectly reached millions, its influence on public opinion cannot be measured. Worldover Press was important to many people, however, for its insight into news treated only casually, if at all, in standard journals. It was vital to the peace movement which it put in contact with international events.

The tragedy of Devere Allen's life was that his creative powers were not loosed from the tasks of fundraising, administration, and reporting. He was ably served by a few assistants. But because he operated on such little capital, and because he was an indefatigable worker, Allen's hours were cramped by daily routine. Nevertheless, in those after hours he became humorist and satirist, folklorist, genealogist and historian; he even wrote poetry and fiction. Much of his work was published. But his virtuosity is revealed still more by unpublished and unfinished projects: his delightful and thorough genealogy of the Allen family; his collection of Rhode Island folklore (part of which was published serially in the Providence, Rhode Island, Sunday Journal Magazine); a projected article on early railroads; a collection of witty verse; serious poems and articles, and humorous stories. Intellectual curiosity, humor, and his love of nature relieved the tension of social concern and administrative tasks. Beyond these diversions, Allen pressed his analysis of internationalism and pacifism. There are indications that he had visions of making the Worldover Press an active agent in international relations as well as an educational influence. There remain, also, fragments of fresh analysis of contemporary pacifism. His sudden death in 1955 deprived the movement of re-interpretation which it needed. Certainly those who tried to continue the Worldover Press found that it had been but an extension of the vision and labor of Devere Allen.

Allen's friends and close associates included in the twenties those on The World Tomorrow, especially Nevin Sayre with whom Allen was active in the Fellowship of Reconciliation. In the thirties there were especially Norman Thomas, Clarence E. Pickett, and Ray Newton. From the war on he worked closely with E. Dixwell Chase, Philip Gray, Landrum Bolling, and Samuel Guy Inman. He had a long devoted friend in Albert Sprague Coolidge, and a dedicated associate in Alice Barry. Fully sharing his hopes and frustrations, his life and work, was his wife, Marie Allen.

A biography must be written before Devere Allen's influence can be measured even approximately. And much independent research remains to be done before a biography can be attempted. It is certain that he was one of the most articulate, analytical and imaginative pacifists. His books and articles and Worldover Press testify to that fact, as does his correspondence. He not only recorded and analyzed the peace movement, he also helped organize it. He created also an instrument for the international exchange of ideas. [See also: Devere Allen, Life and Writings, edited by Charles Chatfield. (New York : Garland Pub., 1976)]

Chronology of the Life of Devere Allen

Biography of Devere Allen


138 linear ft. (138 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Author, editor, journalist and lecturer; advocate of internationalist pacifism; influential member of the Socialist Party in the 1930s; genealogist; recorder of Rhode Island history and lore; named Harold Devere Allen.


At the time of Devere Allen's sudden death in 1955, his papers were stored at his office in Wilton, Connecticut. His widow, Marie Allen, retired soon after his death, so that the papers were unused until 1961, when historian Charles Chatfield was granted permission by Marie Allen to organize them. He visited Wilton in the summer of 1961, at which time he put the papers in a preliminary order, following essentially the same organizational structure in which he found them. Since Allen had been a member of the Advisory Council of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, it was natural that the papers would be deposited at Swarthmore.

The bulk of the papers was sent to Swarthmore in the fall of 1961 (accession 61-80) containing approximately 150 linear feet. Chatfield provided a preliminary checklist. The materials were transferred to acid-free boxes and given temporary labels. Three small accessions were received in 1975, 1981 and 1985.

Processing of the Devere Allen Papers was begun in 1995. Chatfield had not been able to organize all materials during his 1961 visit, so that about 75 linear feet remained to be sorted among various series.

The series arrangement devised by Chatfield (based on the arrangement in which he found the papers) was retained, except that sub series were added to Series C.

It is important for the researcher to understand that even though there is one main correspondence series (Series C), correspondence may also be found in every series except series E. Series C also contains background information, filed with the correspondence by Allen and his assistants, to keep like topics together.

This collection was re-boxed in 2012, compacting the contents into many less boxes than had previously been used. Cards were placed into card file boxes, and printing blocks were either discarded (because they were very faded) or removed to the Memorabilia Collection.

Series List:

  1. Series A: Biographical Information, Diaries, Memorabilia. Includes information by and about Devere Allen, Marie Hollister Allen, and their families. Includes Christmas cards and other personal information and memorabilia.
  2. Series B-1: Writings of Devere Allen. Includes composition books, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, typescripts, some background and research material, and correspondence related to his writings.
  3. Series B-2: Speeches, Talks and Radio Addresses. Includes manuscripts of talks, background material, correspondence, publicity, and lists of speaking engagements.
  4. Series C-1: The Rational Patriot (periodical edited by Devere Allen). Includes correspondence, manuscripts, and subscription lists.
  5. Series C-2: Young Democracy (a youth organization and its periodical of the same name which Devere Allen helped to found). Includes correspondence, printed material, and information about members.
  6. Series C-3: Family and Personal Correspondence and Related Printed Information. Primarily letters between Devere and Marie before their marriage, 1910-1917. Also includes some correspondence between Marie Allen and Charles Chatfield, 1960-1974. All letters of a personal nature had been placed in this series at Marie Allen's request. It was restricted until her death in 1979. Also included is a box of information about Devere Allen's ancestor, Horatio Allen (1802-1889), who was the inventor of the first steam locomotive in the United States.
  7. Series C-4: Correspondence and Related Printed Information (General). This series represents Allen's working files. He had arranged it chronologically by year, then alphabetically within each year. It includes correspondence and printed secondary information about individuals and organizations, and it documents the day-to-day working of The World Tomorrow, and the No-Frontier News Service/Worldover Press. It also includes a miscellany of personal topics, news service business, genealogy, and Allen's other interests (especially his work for the Socialist Party), because his correspondence reflects the fact that the many facets of his personal and professional life were inseparable. In addition to the chronological files in Series C-4, Allen chose to arrange some correspondence by organization, country, or subject. In the later processing, files for these three topics were removed from C-4 and created as series C-5, C-6, and C-7, respectively. Consistent filing practices had not always been followed in Allen's office, so that related correspondence was not necessarily together. Correspondence and related files were transferred from the general series ( C-4) to the specific (C-5, C-6, C-7) if Allen had already created a file for the name, organization, or topic. If Allen had not created a separate file, the correspondence and related information was left in Series C-4. Also, an invitation from 1818 in Massachusetts Peace Society (DG 020) Re-File material.
  8. Series C-5: Correspondence and Related Printed Information, Arranged by Organization.
  9. Series C-6: Correspondence and Related Printed Information, Arranged by Country.
  10. Series C-7: Correspondence and Related Printed Information, Arranged by Subject .
  11. Series D-1: No-Frontier News Service (1933-1941) and Series D-2: Worldover Press (1942-1955). These are the business and operational files of Allen's news service, which changed its name in January, 1942. Most correspondence relating to it is filed in series C-4. Periodicals associated with these series were left in place. Extensive clipping files of NNS and Worldover Press materials are included.
  12. Series E: Books, Pamphlets, Periodicals, and other Printed Materials Collected By Devere Allen. Approximately 250 of the 300 books received in the 1961 accession were incorporated into the Swarthmore College Peace Collection's holdings at that time. Most are about peace, war, pacifism, and the Society of Friends. In 1997 some duplicates were sold to Booksource (Swarthmore, Pa.) and others given away. The books that remain in this series were retained because they were inscribed by the author or have some significance to the papers. About 300 pamphlets are included in this series, including 18th and 19th century works. There are also 15 plays and 40 poems about peace and war.Periodicals received by Devere Allen were found scattered throughout the papers, especially in series C-4. These were brought together in series E. However, since series had been established for the No-Frontier News Service (D-1) and the Worldover Press (D-2), periodicals associated with them were left in their respective series.
  13. Images The photographs from the Devere Allen Papers include images of him and his wife, the Young Democracy group, famous people and scenes that Allen used in his lectures (many available as lantern slides rather than photographs, or in both formats), and the locomotive designed by his ancestor. A small online exhibit was created by Barbara Addison (see Online Photograph Gallery) of some of these images. Lantern slides used by Devere Allen were received at the Peace Collection in 2012. These and all of the photographs were digitized that year, and are available for viewing as part of the Peace Collection's online digital collections.
  14. Lantern slide collection The Devere Allen lantern slide collection consists of 263 glass slides of images that Allen used to illustrate his many lectures and talks on internationalism. It appears that these slides date no later than the mid 1930s. The slides include portraits of leading public figures, such as George Bernard Shaw, August Bebel, Jawaharlal Nehru, and George Lansbury; and peace activists such as Mohandas Gandhi, Fenner Brockway, Wilfred Wellock, and Romain Rolland. Many of the slides depict famous buildings in European cities or the beauties of the countryside. Allen collected images of contemporary events such as a parade of Soviet miliitary might in Moscow's Red Square, a peace demonstration in Berlin, Germany in the early 1930s, and a march of Nazi "Brown Shirts" a few years later.

Other Finding Aids

For the catalog record for this collection and to find materials on similar topics, search the library's online catalog.

Custodial History

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Marie H. (Mrs. Devere) Allen, 1961.

Separated Materials

Items removed to other SCPC collections

  1. Scrapbook/s: #113 (Oberlin College, 1913-1916) and #114 (newsclippings using information/material from Worldover Press, 1942-1950)
  2. Photographs and slides
  3. Posters
  4. Stamps
  5. Buttons
  6. Oversized items
  7. See list for more information

Legal Status

Copyright to the materials created by Devere Allen has been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Copyright to all other materials is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information

Processed by Barbara Addison, 2000.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018: The file list was standardized in Summer 2017 by Mary Olesnavich in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace. Tessa Chambers added the notes in Fall 2017.
  • 2023: The Memorabilia series was added to the finding aid by Laura Melbourne in 2023.

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting repoductions from Swarthmore College Peace Collection Library

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