By The Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections Staff
Primary Creator: Allen, Selima Blanchard (1807-1892)
Other Creators: Blanchard, Jonathan (1811-1892)
Extent: 3.0 boxes. More info below.
Arrangement: The collection is arranged by series with folder level control.
The Selima Blanchard Allen materials form a collateral collection to the papers of her brother, Jonathan Blanchard. Included are correspondence, diaries, account books, scrapbooks, and personal items ranging in time from 1836-1892.
The correspondence spans the dates 1836-1892, with the greatest number of items dated between 1839 and 1853. Thus the main body of Selima's papers falls during a period which is often sparsely covered in the Jonathan Blanchard Papers. Since many of the letters are to and from her siblings, these letters provide insights and information completely lacking in other sources.
The letters were gathered into signatures and sewn together, presumably by Selima. The organization is roughly by writers, and her original order was maintained. Each bundle was placed in a numbered folder as follows: 1: Miscellaneous Relatives Folder, 2: Cyrus Lewis Blanchard Folder, 3: Jonathan Blanchard Folder, 4: Samuel Blanchard Folder, 5: William Walter Blanchard Folder, 6: Friends and Nieces Folder, 7: Ungathered Folder, 8: Jacob T. Allen.
An item listing gives the writer, place written, recipient, date, folder number, and an abstract for each letter. This list may be computer searched for researchers interested in topical studies.
Selima's diaries generally contain short entries, without lengthy ruminations on the topics mentioned. They were kept on a variety of media (bound volumes, loose papers gathered into signatures, etc.) along with accounts and other writings. Some of the diaries were copied at a later date; thus some duplication exists. These were arranged by the date of the first entry. The presence of diary material took precedence over other material in a book for arrangement purposes (e.g., an account book/diary was placed with diaries and cross indexed under "Accounts" in the Container List).
Along with important family information, Selima Blanchard Allen's papers also chronicle her unhappy marriage to Jacob T. Allen, an Irish immigrant. Students of 19th century marriage, women, education, family life, and immigration will find interesting and helpful material here.
Selima Blanchard Allen was the eighth child in the farming family of Mary ("Polly") Lovell Blanchard and Jonathan Blanchard, Sr. She was born in Rockingham, VT on the first day of 1807.
She left the family farm and, after teaching in several locations, moved to Batavia, Ohio. There, in 1843, she met and married Jacob T. Allen, an Irish immigrant. Allen's unsettled habits and tendency to drink, along with Selima's inclination to be strong in her opinions, combined to make the marriage a miserable one. This unsatisfactory union influenced Selima for the remainder of her life; she was forced to make her own living and occasionally counseled young women not to marry. She followed the career of school teaching and housed boarders to support her needs.
She actively participated in local church and religious functions. She also supported the activities of her brother Jonathan in anti-secretism, Christian reform work, and his duties at Wheaton College. In her later years, she lived with the family of her nephew, Charles Blanchard, and died in Wheaton on October 21, 1892 at the age of 85.
Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on this collection.
Use Restrictions: Duplication may be restricted if copying could cause damage to items.
Acquisition Source: Gift
Acquisition Method: The source of the collection is presently unknown, but likely received from a member of the Blanchard family.
Preferred Citation: Selima Blanchard Allen Papers (SC-101), Wheaton College Special Collections, Wheaton, Illinois.
Other Note: The Selima Blanchard Allen Collection contains correspondence, diaries, essays, and other manuscript material that highlights the life of a nineteenth century woman. It portrays the life of a woman and how she relates to the issues of her day and the personal issues she faces, such as an alcoholic husband.
Other URL: http://library.wheaton.edu