DEVERE ALLEN PAPERS (DG 053)
BIOGRAPHY OF DEVERE ALLEN by Barbara Addison
Devere Allen (1891-1955) was an advocate of internationalist pacifism, a journalist, author of fiction and non-fiction, editor, influential member of the Socialist Party in the 1930s, historian of peace movements, genealogist, and recorder of Rhode Island history and lore. He believed in the power of mass nonviolent direct action to prevent aggression and war, but he also urged pacifists to be realistic about power politics.
Devere Allen was born in Providence, Rhode Island on June 24, 1891, and was educated in Rhode Island and Connecticut public schools. He attended high school at the Wheeler School at North Stonington, Connecticut, where he met his future wife, Marie Hollister. Marie and Devere were deeply influenced by her father, a pacifist Congregational minister. (1)
and The Rational Patriot
Devere graduated cum laude from Oberlin College in 1917, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He had specialized in the areas of economics, sociology, and politics, and had been active in organizations promoting peace, social justice, female suffrage, and socialism. For two years he was president of the Socialism Round Table. During his last two years as an undergraduate he was president of the Oberlin branch of the League for Industrial Democracy and was president of the Woodrow Wilson Club. In the years before and during his college career, he worked as a playground director and athletic coach, farm hand, public school teacher, bookstore clerk, canvasser, coal heaver, floor scrubber, window washer, and contributor to humorous magazines. (2)
In 1916, Leyton Richards visited the Oberlin campus as a representative of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, which had been founded in England in 1914 and the United States in 1915. Allen was deeply impressed by Richards's pacifist message, which he described in a letter to Marie as emphasizing the "superiority of a red-blooded, positive love like that of Christ over the use of armed force among nations...we are not looking for results in 1916, but in 1956." (3) Allen was inspired to be a founder of Oberlin's chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, one of the first in the United States.
It was at Oberlin in late 1916 that Allen and others decided to give expression to their anti-war convictions by publishing a periodical, The Rational Patriot. Its motto was "Humanity First, America Leading." Allen was editor, and Howard Branson was managing editor. The new paper had a small circulation and was funded mainly by contributions raised by Branson through his contacts with wealthy Quakers in the Philadelphia area. Volume 1, number 1 was dated March 19, 1917; it received an explosively negative reaction from Oberlin students and the community, with complaints about its "traitorous" columns coming from as far as California. After the second and third numbers were issued, Allen decided to stay in Oberlin after graduation in June, 1917 to continue publication. However, the U.S. Postal Service intervened after a few issues [unspecified] had been found "unmailable," and ruled that all future copies must be submitted for examination to authorities in Washington D.C. before posting, where it was delayed long enough to become out of date and useless. Local businessmen also tried to suppress publication by preventing printers in the Oberlin area from publishing The Rational Patriot, so that it was necessary to go as far afield as Cleveland to obtain the services of a printer.
In the fall of 1917, Allen and Branson received their draft notices; both claimed conscientious objector status. Allen was later exempted from service on the grounds of poor eyesight, but Branson was sent to Camp Meade, where he was segregated with other conscientious objectors. The loss of Branson's help and financial contacts and the harassment by the Post Office was ruinous to The Rational Patriot. Although it had achieved a circulation of nearly 6,000 and a considerable appreciation for its views, Allen decided in May 1918 to discontinue publication. (4) In spite of his feeling of frustration and failure, not to mention the financial pressures it had exacted, the publication of The Rational Patriot had made it possible for Allen to make valuable contacts with influential people in the peace movement, including John Haynes Holmes, Oswald Garrison Villard, Norman Thomas, Fannie Fern Andrews, and Crystal Eastman.
Devere and Marie were married in August, 1917, and had two children, Jean (1919) and Shirley (1921). The Allens moved briefly to New York City around 1918, then to Wilton, Connecticut (a reasonable commute to New York) shortly before Jean's birth; they were to remain there, using it as a center of operations for their news service, for the rest of Devere's life.
Democracy, The World Tomorrow, and The Nation
In 1918, Devere Allen became the first secretary of Young Democracy (a political youth organization founded in New York City in May of 1918) and later editor of its journal, Young Democracy. The organization had more than 800 members, both pro- and anti-war, from all walks of life. (5) Heavily influenced by the European youth movements, their stated purpose was to "awaken youth to a consciousness of its power and responsibility to humanity...and to establish bonds of international good will and fellowship between the young of all nations." (6) His associates included Lella Faye Secor (better known under her married name, Lella Secor Florence), Ray Newton, Anna Garrett Walton, Henry J. Cadbury, and H.W.L. Dana. During Allen's tenure at Young Democracy, the organization was disrupted by an agent provocateur who tried to lead the members into violations of the law. Staff members were grilled by federal agents, and Allen's personal mail was intercepted and read, but the organization's goals and literature were found to be harmless. (7) The organization ceased to exist in the fall of 1921, and its periodical merged with The World Tomorrow, which had begun publication in 1918, and had been edited by Norman Thomas.
In 1921, Allen began his editorship of The World Tomorrow, subtitled "a journal looking toward a Christian world." It was pacifist in orientation, and affiliated with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Allen continued as Managing Editor of World Tomorrow until 1925; he served as Editor until 1933. During 1922 and 1923 he also served as organizer and chairman of a conference of politically liberal youth organizations.
Allen had taken a one year hiatus from The World Tomorrow, from September 1931 to August 1932, when he served as Associate Editor of The Nation. Oswald Garrison Villard invited Allen to join The Nation on an experimental basis, without an announcement or his name on the masthead. Villard assured him that "you will be far freer here and will have a greater opportunity to express yourself with complete freedom than you ever have had before..." (8) In addition to his writing and editorial work, Allen contributed commentary as "The Drifter." He strongly promoted the idea of a peace news department to Villard, but it was rejected. Already financially precarious, The Nation reached a crisis in May 1932. Allen had come to believe that the journal was too conservative and its personnel too negative. His ideas and writing style had received searing criticism from the editors, especially Dorothy Van Doren, whom he termed a "super-sophisticate." The final break was caused by his decision to run for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut in the fall of 1932 on the Socialist ticket. Villard was profoundly opposed, on the ground that it would identify the paper publicly as having one of its editors a Socialist.(9)
The World Tomorrow staff wanted Allen back, and he wanted to return. In September of 1932, he was appointed co-editor (with Kirby Page) on conditions which he had long wished to achieve: no administrative duties, the promise of inclusion of a peace news department (not fulfilled), and the removal of the "exclusively Christian" subtitle which he felt had been a barrier to widespread acceptance of the journal by antiwar activists. (10) While at The World Tomorrow, he penned essays and analyses, reviews, poetry and humor, notably a popular column under the pen name "Eccentricus". His associates on The World Tomorrow included John Nevin Sayre, Reinhold Niebuhr, Anna Rochester, and Grace Hutchins.
One of Allen's primary interests had always been "on the spot" journalism, which he wished to combine with his pacifist beliefs. Accordingly, Devere and Marie and their two young daughters travelled to Europe for 14 months beginning in the summer of 1930, to investigate the momentous changes taking place there. They toured extensively throughout the Continent, covering about twelve thousand miles in twelve countries. He served as a foreign correspondent for The World Tomorrow and other American periodicals, studying political and economic conditions. In the spring of 1931 he witnessed at first hand the overthrow of King Alfonso, signaling the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. He was in Germany, Austria and England during severe financial crises, and he attended many international conferences, including the Labour and Socialist International Congress at Vienna and the War Resisters' International conference at Lyons, France. He investigated the British Labour Party, toured fascist Italy, and made numerous significant contacts in the European peace and labor movements. He discussed the problems of war prevention with Albert Einstein in his home near Potsdam, and he interviewed H.G. Wells, Romain Rolland, and Mahatma Gandhi. (11) His experiences in Europe, and especially in Spain, convinced him that pacifists who wish to do away with war must seek the "great world movement for economic change" by aiding "disciplined working-class bodies for the overthrow of privilege." (12) It was in the Socialist Party that Allen was to find the practical expression of these beliefs. His association with The World Tomorrow ended in 1933, when he and Marie Allen started the No-Frontier News Service.
and Religious Affiliations
Devere and Marie Allen joined the Socialist Party in June, 1930; he endorsed its platform "A Militant Program for the Socialist Party of America" in 1931. (13) By 1932 he was active on the national, state, and local levels. He campaigned for Connecticut's U.S. Senate seat on the Socialist ticket in 1932 and 1934, increasing the Socialist Party's share of the vote significantly. Allen was considered a centrist in a party which would soon become badly factionalized, and was often called upon to mediate disputes. He belonged to the "progressive" wing of the party, along with other pacifists such as Jessie Hughan, Winston Dancis, and Abe Kaufman. Allen described himself as a radical pacifist Socialist, but "radical" only in the sense that he felt the Socialists should have a clear differentiation from the Democratic Party as it was then constituted. (14)
In 1934, at the Socialist Party's national convention, Allen was called upon to formulate its "Declaration of Principles." He called for acceptance of the general strike concept, but did not advocate revolution or violent resistance. He wrote that only in the event of the breakdown of the United States's capitalist government (a prospect which seemed very possible to some during the 1930s Depression) the Socialist Party should be prepared to take over in the "ensuing chaos." His statements were badly misinterpreted by the mainstream press, being twisted to allege that Allen and the Party advocated violent revolution in order to overthrow the United States government. Writing to Kirby Page, Allen protested that "...[the Declaration] is quite specifically 100 per cent for anti-militarism and war resistance and so far as its revolutionary socialism is concerned, for the first time it offers to party members and the general public a specific statement covering various contingencies. It proposed definite action in a time of crisis, but centered that action in the building up of the general strike technique which...is likely to be our only alternative to violence or defeat." (15) Allen was stung by criticism and misinterpretation of the Declaration, especially by charges that he had split the Socialist Party. In a 1954 letter to a researcher at the University of Oregon, he recalled that he had been asked to write a first draft of the 1934 Declaration by the Socialist Party's National Executive Committee because he was an objective and experienced journalist. He had consulted official resolutions from local and state organizations, and had drafted a rough approximation of what seemed to be the common strands of grass-roots Socialist thought. Although the Declaration was later attacked as being the work of one man, Allen explained that he had only intended it to be a rough first draft, thinking it would be revised, criticized, and edited. However, the Party's "Old Guard" (conservative) faction tried to defeat the Declaration by urging that it be adopted in its imperfect, first-draft form. Instead, the Declaration was adopted as it was, without further comment or re-writing. (16)
While a member of the Socialist Party, Allen served on its National Executive Committee, the Anti-War Committee, the Committee on Unity, and as chairman of the Committee on International Labor Solidarity. He also served with an affiliated group, the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky, in 1936 and 1937. Although he was completely against violence in any form, Allen (in contrast to some religious pacifists) was in favor of an aggressive class struggle. "I have always differentiated between what I call the 'spiritual pacifist' and the 'political pacifist.' The spiritual pacifist is entitled to full respect, but I cannot follow him in his dogmatic refusal to resort to any violence at all, because such an attitude is inconceivable to me in anyone who believes in government. Believing as I do in government, I must accept the responsibility for the maintenance of that government, and under existing world conditions, this will certainly mean the ability and the readiness of the regularly constituted governmental police to suppress counter-revolutionary use of violence to overthrow the co-operative state."(17)
By the late 1930s, Allen was especially discouraged by the state of the Socialist Party in Connecticut. Long divided between left and right, it was badly split in 1938 when, by order of a Connecticut superior court, the conservative wing of the party (considered by Allen to be an adjunct of the Republican political machine) was given sole claim to the name "Socialist Party of Connecticut." The left-wing was forced to change its name to the "Labor Party of Connecticut," the ticket upon which Allen ran for Governor. By 1938, however, he had neither time nor money to campaign. (18) The Labor Party was only allowed on the ballot through petitions, and so it suffered a resounding defeat. Afterward, Allen registered as an independent Socialist, separate from the Connecticut party.
After their second European sojourn in 1939-1940, Devere and Marie Allen drifted away from the Socialist Party. Allen's formal affiliation with the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party ended in 1939, (19) partly because of the pressure of work for the news service, but also because of the extreme factionalism he had found in both the national and Connecticut organizations. In addition, he felt that war preparations in Europe were dooming the Socialist Party to increasing irrelevance.
Allen lost hope that the Socialists would ever unite workers, farmers, and the middle class in the United States. He also felt that many of the reforms which the Socialist Party had advocated (such as Social Security) had been adopted by the Democrats. (20) Although he later joined the Democratic Party (probably in the early 1950s) and supported Adlai Stevenson for President in 1952, he did not lose faith in the Socialist ideal, writing to Socialist leader Norman Thomas in 1952: "my own views on the role of the Socialist Party nationally and locally appear to coincide completely with yours." (21)
Allen had supported the United Front, a coalition of various organizations, including Communists, who worked against fascism as it became a menace to Europe in the 1930s. Although wary of working with Communists, Allen felt that if enough pacifists would stay in "united front" organizations, they could outvote the Communists and increase the influence of the pacifist/Socialist position. (22) As such, he was an influential member of the League Against War and Fascism. However, he quit his membership in disgust in February 1934, writing in his letter of resignation: "...it is no longer possible to conceal the fact that the Communist Party, so far as its official leadership is concerned, considers the League as an opportunity...to disrupt and attack the various other participating organizations, and only in a secondary sense a medium of action against war and fascism." (23)
Allen grew steadily more anti-Communist as the years passed. In 1953, he wrote to Constance Muste Hamilton:
...when you speak of people who were close to the Communist position in years gone by, and still are, I do condemn them. They are condoning unconscionable evils; they take no account of the basic changes in Soviet policy; they hamper non-violent efforts to secure fundamental social and economic changes; they endanger things I hold so dear I am willing to fight for them, on the pacifist level. Nor can I equate Communism with our own society, its numerous evils included and recognized. And I have a simple outlook: I'm against all forms of totalitarianism, racism, oppression, wherever they rear their heads, in whatever nation. (24)
With his anti-Communist credentials firmly established, Allen spoke out sharply and frequently against the McCarthyite "witch-hunts" of the early 1950s. His column "This Is Your World" in the World Interpreter warned Americans against the dangers to traditional American freedoms in succumbing to anti-Communist hysteria.
Devere and Marie joined the South Kingston Monthly Meeting of Friends in Westerly, Rhode Island in 1941, having been members of the Wider Quaker Fellowship for a few years. Devere himself was a direct descendent of two Quaker governors of Rhode Island. (25) He had been raised as a Baptist, but became a member of the Congregational Church in 1911. Although his early writings (through his early twenties) show a strong Christian influence, he became less and less "Christological." Correspondingly, the basis of his pacifist views also changed over the years, from religious (Christian) to ethical. (26)
Allen's connections with the peace movement were broad and deep -- through his authorship of books and articles, his establishment of the news service, and his extensive speaking tours. His many personal friendships were sustained through his vast correspondence. In the 1920s and 1930s, he was widely connected to the U.S. and European peace movements through his work on The Rational Patriot, the Young Democracy organization, The World Tomorrow, and finally through the No-Frontier News Service/Worldover Press. His involvement with the Socialist Party in the 1930s deepened his association with radical pacifists. He was officer of many national organizations working for peace and social progress, including the League for Industrial Democracy, of which he was a director for several years, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, serving both on the national Executive Committee and the International Council. He was a founder of the Pacifist Action Committee (1929) and the Emergency Peace Committee (1931), and was later connected with the Emergency Peace Campaign; he served as vice-chairman of the War Resisters League in the United States, and chairman of the Western Hemisphere Committee of the War Resisters' International. (27) Other affiliations included the Labour and Socialist International, the Workers' Defense League, the Emergency Conservation Committee, the League for Independent Political Action, the League for Industrial Democracy, the American League for India's Freedom, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Through the 1940s and early 1950s, the exigencies of operating the news service on a financial shoe-string absorbed an inordinate amount of time and energy of both Devere and Marie. It also forced him to deal with the realities of being a business owner -- paying taxes, meeting payrolls -- and seems to have modified some of his attitudes, formerly quite hostile, toward capitalist America.
Allen's frustration with the direction and tactics of American and European peace movements increased as the years passed. In 1950 he wrote to Norman Thomas:
I have been growing increasingly dismayed by the sterility of the pacifist organizations, both in the U.S. and abroad....I needn't tell you that I have never been an absolutist, but I can't see why the official pacifist groups have to spend such time on piffling projects like those temporary fasts, White House picketing, etc., when all it does...is impress upon the general public the terrible weakness of the pacifist groups....I am particularly concerned these days over the methods being used by the F.O.R., which seem to me too full of a tendency to whitewash Russia and to put the burden on the "imperfect democracies." Every pacifist organization I know anything about, in any part of the world, is at its lowest ebb in influence in many years. Some of this may be due to the external situation, but a lot of it is due to bad thinking and a confusion which does not attract the kind of people who are needed to put the movements across. (28)
He expressed similar views to Alfred Hassler, editor of the Fellowship of Reconciliation's periodical Fellowship :
I feel considerably out of step with the point of view you seem to have for Fellowship, and to some extent with the F.O.R. itself. This is not, believe me, due to any change in my pacifist convictions. It is rather a deep-going difference about the tactics and emphases I think must be used to express our pacifism, and particularly to win others not now pacifists....I can discern no appreciable change in my position [over the years]. I have never been much of an absolutist, on pacifism or anything else. [But] I have come to feel keenly that the methods now receiving emphasis in the work of the F.O.R. are not likely to be productive of the best results, and in any case, are not representative of the emphases I would prefer to make, myself...It does not mean that I want to leave the F.O.R.; but I don't feel happy at having my name attached to it in the pages of its organ. I must ask you, therefore, if you will remove my name from the list of Editorial Contributors....One of the major notes I cannot accept, either in the magazine or in the F.O.R. itself, appears to be a tendency to equate Soviet Russia and the United States about evenly. Never for a moment would I wish to cease pointing out our own militaristic trends...But I can not be neutral intellectually; I see the present Moscow Politboro as a menace to the world, including the Russian and satellite peoples, incomparably more cruel, imperialistic, and dangerous to peace than any American government we have had for a long time. I do not hold with "neutralism." I want to work, openly and apologetically, for the overthrow of the Russian dictatorship. I don't think this means by war; instead, I feel that the more ardently and openly pacifists work for it, the less likely a war and the weaker the drive for the war method on the part of our own extremists.There is another point where I differ. You and the F.O.R. seem to uphold 'pure' pacifism; that is, if you can't get pacifist methods, you seem unwilling to hope and work for the nearest thing to them, or for the best thing that can be had....I think it wrong to scoff at the United Nations when it doesn't follow the pacifist way. (29)
In spite of these critiques, Allen retained his membership in the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He did, however, resign from the War Resisters League in January 1953, due to "heavy new burdens of work."(30)
After his death in 1955, Allen virtually disappeared from the collective memory of the peace movement, with the single exception of the "Devere Allen Memorial Library" which was established in his honor in Chilpancingo, Mexico. Marie Allen felt that this inattention was due to the huge burdens which they had carried in his last years, making it impossible to attend meetings and be as active in organizations as they had been. (31) A more likely explanation has to do with his outspoken criticism of the peace movement in his later years, especially his refusal to make a moral equivalence between the United States and the Soviet Union.
No-Frontier News Service/Worldover Press,
Devere Allen had long hoped to establish a peace news service within the context of The World Tomorrow, in order to rally peace groups in the United States and to make them more aware of international developments. While in Europe during 1930-1931, Allen studied the personnel, methods, aims and experiences of major peace organizations. He gathered material and made arrangements with peace-oriented groups to provide information for the proposed news service project. The War Resisters' International agreed to supply material, provided the World Tomorrow would publish this material without discrimination between religious and/or atheist views. However, the editors of World Tomorrow wanted mainly a Christian emphasis. (32) And so, in 1933, Allen left the World Tomorrow to found the No-Frontier News Service, with the help of Marie Allen and Ray Newton who acted for the American Friends Service Committee's Peace Section, which provided a subsidy.
The No-Frontier News Service (NNS) was designed to communicate news of peace efforts translated into action and reported as events, and to give peace constituencies a clear and accurate assessment of world conflicts. It was not intended to be an organ of pacifism. It endeavored to show human progress and useful, constructive activity among peoples. It was initially oriented to three specific groups: religious papers in North America, labor organs, and general periodicals. At first, NNS sent three-page releases at irregular intervals. As more material was obtained from a growing number of correspondents, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe and later in Latin America, the service was extended in size and scope. Information for the news service was drawn from three sources: Marie and Devere Allen summarized many periodicals in several languages; they obtained special articles from writers and experts; and they received reports from nearly one hundred correspondents around the world, many of whom had been recruited by the Allens on their trips abroad. The result was news items on international affairs, columns dealing with various aspects of international affairs and interpretative background information, and special articles on international affairs. (33) Marie Allen read and translated into finished copy the materials in Spanish, French, and some Portuguese; she was also in charge of copy editing, and she managed the newspaper "morgue" of information files. (34) Other staff members included editorial/business assistants E. Dixwell Chase (1940-1944), Richard A. Kendrick (mid 1940s), Philip H. Gray (1945-1948?) and Robert Root (1948?-1950). Indispensable office staff were Alice Barry, editorial secretary from 1933 to 1955, and her sister Leanore Barry, who was the circulation manager.
Two periodicals were published by the news service: World Events (1933-1939) and World Interpreter (1949-1955). World Events was a small printed paper which contained some of the same sort of material used in the editorial releases, but was written more for the interests of an individual reader. At its height, just before World War II, it had 33,000 subscribers. (35)
In 1939, Devere and Marie returned to Europe to renew contacts and increase the scope of the No-Frontier News Service. They remained in Europe for eleven months, opening a European bureau in Brussels, Belgium. During that time, they visited most of the countries in western and central Europe, spending five weeks in France, where they talked with farmers, politicians, working people, and soldiers. Devere was taken on a 70-mile tour along the border of France facing the Siegfried Line. After the Nazi invasion of Belgium, Devere and Marie fled to Switzerland and attempted to set up operations there. However, they found that censorship in Europe made it impossible for news to flow freely to their subscribers, so they returned home to Wilton, Connecticut, in May 1940, to continue their work.
Because wartime European conditions so severely limited uncensored news, Devere and Marie turned their attention toward Latin America. In 1942, they spent several months in Cuba, building up their contacts in the area. They had intended to set up a Havana bureau, but found that prices were too high and communication difficult, so they moved on to Mexico, where they remained for a year and a half, studying the Latin American and Caribbean press. They established a bureau in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and interviewed representatives of every South American country. At its height, the news service had 26 correspondents in Latin America. (36) Later, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, arrangements were made for distribution with Latin American agencies. It was partly due to concern for Latin American sensibilities about their own national boundaries that the name of the service was changed to Worldover Press in January, 1942.
With the end of the World War, the Allens were eager to renew their European contacts. They journeyed to Europe in May of 1947, remaining through June of 1948. They traveled through 15 countries, studying at first hand the important international situations in Germany, Austria, Italy, France, and Britain. The Swiss Peace Council and the American Friends Service Committee's Geneva Centre offered cooperation in their project to circularize Worldover Press material to European editors and individuals.
As of 1947, the Worldover Press had 660 correspondents in 47 countries, issuing its reports in three languages: English, Spanish, and German. (37)
Ten years after the cessation of World Events, Worldover Press initiated a new periodical, World Interpreter. It was announced in November, 1949 as "a pocket periodical of uncensored news on world affairs," issued every two weeks. Devere Allen served as editor; Marie Allen, associate editor, was the translator, researcher and writer. Robert Root was executive editor. (38) The new periodical used dispatches submitted to the Worldover Press for use by editors, which were then re-written for individual subscribers. Over time, the most popular feature proved to be Devere Allen's column of analysis, "This Is Your World," in which he surveyed international questions for U.S. audiences. World Interpreter was necessarily a by-product of Worldover's work with editors, and counted only 900 subscribers in 1955, although a large percentage of these were "opinion-molders" such as college libraries. (39)
The news service went through several financial crises, but the most severe was in 1950, when several long-time donors died or were forced to curtail their large gifts to Worldover Press. In 1955, Allen looked back at this period: "For several years we had the benefit of managing editors who had private means, and donated their services...[but] since 1948, Marie and I have had to cut out travel, because there's no one to leave in charge. And we just can't seem to raise enough extra money to hire a good editor."(40)
In terms of educational influence, however, Worldover Press grew remarkably. By 1955, the total number of papers served reached 726. It included a chain of six Negro newspapers, an anti-segregation daily in Greenville, Mississippi, the Ladies' Home Journal , and a chain of 30 cooperative and labor papers in Canada. There was a plan through which a world federalist group in Holland would translate Worldover Press material and distribute it to newspaper and magazines all over the Netherlands. (41) By 1955, Worldover Press summed up the total circulation of its client papers as about 25,000,000. (42)
Worldover Press received recognition from journalists, editors, and the public. An article by Devere and Marie, "Analysis of the World Crisis" (World Interpreter, Vol. 1, no. 26, December 22, 1950) received wide acclaim from varied groups and individuals, including some high in the U.S. government.
The Board of the Worldover Press Corporation had long recognized that it needed tax exemption status in order to increase the number and size of its contributions. Repeated appeals to Washington had proved fruitless, so a plan was devised for Worldover Press to work with an adjunct agency, the American Institute of International Information, in order to use the Institute's tax-exempt status. It had been founded in 1946, but had become moribund; bought out and revived by an individual named Landrum Bolling, the AIII began a program of mutual aid with Worldover Press.
Bolling was also connected with the Overseas News Agency. In 1952, the ONA agreed to distribute WP material to more than 223 newspapers in the West German Federal Republic. (43)
In celebtation of Worldover Press's many achievements, and in an effort to give it a higher profile, a 20th anniversary dinner was held in New York City on February 26th, 1954. Organized by Samuel Inman, President of the Worldover Press Corporation, its theme was "Freedom and Responsibility of the Press." Eleanor Roosevelt was the keynote speaker; the 150 distinguished guests included Dean Rusk and the editors of many prominent periodicals. One of the speakers, Edward W. Barrett, former Assistant Secretary of State, took the opportunity to lash out against Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's anti-Communist crusade, calling him a "political hoodlum." A purse of $1750 was presented to the Allens in recognition of the extreme financial and personal sacrifices they had made to keep the news service in operation.
The last years of Worldover Press were difficult. Due to lack of funds, Allen had to be director, editor-news-writer, even "re-write man" since most dispatches had to be worked over to coordinate them and to make them interesting to U.S. readers. After 1950, he also had to be the business manager. He had always been the primary fundraiser, gaining supporters for Worldover Press through the force of his intellect, his personality, and the cogency of his arguments. (44) He wrote in 1955: "I have to rough-write 10,000 words of W.P. copy per week, do an amazingly big lot of letters, and a million other executive jobs, and then raise, almost alone, some $18,000 every year." (45)
Thus, the Worldover Press was unable to continue after his sudden death in 1955 at age 64. Although efforts were made to reorganize, it was recognized that the entire enterprise was so bound up in the person of Devere Allen that it could not survive his passing. On September 16, 1955, the Board of the Corporation moved to dissolve the Worldover Press.
An attempt was made by Marie Allen and others from the Worldover Press to continue its work through publication of a new periodical, World-Around Press. It was edited by Lisa Sergio and based in Woodstock, Vermont. Using much the same format and many of the same correspondents, this periodical was published from March 1, 1956 until 1958, when it ceased, probably with the May 12th issue
Allen as Journalist, Author and Speaker
In addition to the news service, Allen's journalistic work included jobs as a correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance, the Christian Century, and over 40 American newspapers and magazines. He contributed articles to more than 80 American periodicals and to many in foreign countries.
In the 1920s, Allen began to write systematically about the philosophy and policies of peace movements past and present. He edited Pacifism in the Modern World in 1929. It was a series of essays by international peace leaders which demonstrated pacifist solutions to social problems. The next year Allen published a major history and analysis of peace crusades, The Fight for Peace. Reviewer Harry Elmer Barnes called it "the most important contribution to the cause of peace ever written in any language." A major theme in Allen's writings was that pacifists must be realists, in order to face the threats of international power politics. He also sought to apply pacifism domestically, to industrial and agrarian relations.
Adventurous Americans, edited by Devere Allen and published in 1932, presented biographical sketches of 24 people chosen to represent "the American revolt against orthodoxy." The biographees, which included Jane Addams, Norman Thomas, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Margaret Sanger, were not necessarily pacifists or radicals.
In 1946, Allen was asked to be the U.S. editor of a revised version of Above All Nations by George Catlin. (Allen had contributed some material to the original 1945 British edition). Published in 1949, it described acts of compassion and mercy during World War II on the part of almost every country involved in the war, in which soldiers and civilians rose above national considerations and extended practical help to their supposed enemies.
For relaxation, Allen worked on his family genealogy. He also wrote short and long stories, both as a source of personal satisfaction and for remuneration. He loved humor with words, shown in his unpublished manuscript, "Life Can be Sesquipedalian," which he wrote under the pseudonym "Allen Holliday."
Allen's special love was recording and transcribing Rhode Island lore. He collected folk tales, finding them in old civic records, out-of-print books, and colonial newspapers. In 1955, he wrote: "For more than 30 years, I have had a hobby of seeking out and collecting old unknown or forgotten RI folklore, getting it from talks with very elderly people, forgotten books and newspapers, and many original town hall documents. Last summer I whipped this material up as a book of about 200 stories -- superstititions [sic], practical jokes, feuds, and straight humor of speech, all thoroughly authentic RI. Before I could do much about book publication, the Providence RI Sunday Journal...asked to see the ms. They fell for it hard, and so I sold them first serial rights, and they published it a few items at a time ever since last March, in their supplement, The Rhode Islander." The series was published as "Rhode Island Lore and Laughter" in 1955. (46)
Allen was in demand as an engaging, intellectual, yet popular speaker. His audiences were varied, including church forums, men's and women's clubs, youth associations, college assemblies, and trade union bodies. He spoke on popular topics such as: "Should America Stay in Europe?," "Britain's Struggle for a Come-Back," "Understanding Our Latin American Neighbors," and "Today's News and Tomorrow's Opinion." For more than twenty years he was a speaker at the American Friends Service Committee's annual summer forums, the Institutes of International Relations.
As both writer and speaker, Allen was renowned for his encyclopedic grasp of international affairs, his sense of humor, and his passion for progressive, hopeful forces in the world. He had stated in The Fight for Peace that he believed in the essential goodness of man; he believed that, without changing or perfecting human nature, the human race would eventually rid itself of the scourge of war.
Allen was a devoted family man, beloved by his wife and children. Though always financially strapped, he helped support several relatives. He was held in great affection by a tremendous number of people, as his correspondence attests. No matter how busy, he wrote charming letters of congratulation and kind words of consolation.
Devere Allen had suffered from many health problems over the years. Tonsillitis in 1925, added to the continual strain of overwork, led to what might now be termed a nervous breakdown. In 1935 an infected carbuncle in his neck was left untreated due to lack of funds for medical care, causing a serious infection. He suffered from extreme eye strain throughout his adult life. A sedentary style of life plus a haphazard diet affected his digestive system; and an attack of Bell's Palsy in autumn of 1951 caused some paralysis to his face and additional eye problems. Left undiagnosed was the high blood pressure that would cause his final illness and death. In August of 1955, late at night, he felt agonizing abdominal pain but did not seek medical assistance until the next morning. Emergency surgery was carried out, but he suffered a stroke, leaving him paralyzed and with little speech. Four days later, on August 27, 1955, in Westerly, Rhode Island, he died of a second cerebral hemorrhage.
All document groups (DGs) are in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
1. John Nevin Sayre's notes from a visit to Marie Allen [undated], Sayre Papers, DG 117, ser. A, box 1, folder: Allen, Marie, 1963-1967.
2. "Publicity Material Concerning Devere Allen," [1929?], Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. A, box 1, folder: About DA, 1927-1931.
3. Devere Allen to Marie Allen, Nov. 26, 1916, Sayre Papers, DG 117, ser. A, box 1, folder: Allen, Marie, 1963-1967.
4. Devere Allen, "A Brief Report on The Rational Patriot ," Feb. 6, 1947, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-1, box 1, folder: DA's Report on The Rational Patriot. The last issue held by the Swarthmore College Peace Collection is vol. 2, no. 2, dated December 1917; no later issues have been found.
5. Rosa McKusick, [notes from a conversation with Devere Allen], Jan. 7, 1928, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-2, box 1, folder: DA correspondence with Rosa McKusick about Young Democracy.
6. "Constitution of the Young Democracy," [undated], Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-2, box 1, folder: Young Democracy, Organization and Principles.
7. Devere Allen to Horace Carr, Aug. 6, 1918, Allen Papers, DG 53, Ser. C-1, folder: Rational Patriot correspondence.
8. Oswald Garrison Villard to Devere Allen, Sept. 4, 1931, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 1, folder: Nation correspondence.
9. Allen to "Irene" [John Nevin Sayre's secretary?], June 18, 1932, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 1, fldr: Nation correspondence.
10. Devere Allen to Merle Curti, July 21, 1932, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-7, box 1, folder: Burritt, Elihu, correspondence about.
11. "Devere Allen--Biographical Data Supplementing 1932 Who's Who in America," [typescript, 1932], Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. A, box 1, folder: About DA, 1932.
12. Devere Allen, "Spain Will Make Good," World Tomorrow, 14, June 1931.
13. "A Militant Program for the Socialist Party of America," [1931?], Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 1, folder: Correspondence and information, Socialist Party USA, 1931.
14. Devere Allen to M.S. Venkataramini, Dept of History, University of Oregon, Apr. 1, 1954, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 82, folder: U-V.
15. Devere Allen to Kirby Page, June 9, 1934, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 6, folder: Correspondence and Information, Socialist Party USA, 1934.
16. Devere Allen to M.S. Venkataramani, op. cit.
17. Devere Allen to Irving Barshop, December 21, 1936, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 15, folder: Correspondence and information, Socialist Party USA, Nov.-Dec. 1936.
18. Devere Allen to H. C. Engelbrecht, Sept. 6, 1938, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 23, folder: Engelbrecht, H.C.
19. Devere Allen to Travers Clement, and attached handwritten notes, June 15, 1939, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 31, folder: Socialist Party USA, correspondence, 1939.
20. Devere Allen to the editor, Ridgefield Press, Jan. 21, 1954, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. A, box 2, folder: Coogan Affair.
21. Devere Allen to Norman Thomas, Aug. 21, 1952, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 74, folder: T.
22. Devere Allen, "War and the United Front," World Tomorrow, 16, Oct. 12, 1933.
23. Devere Allen to the League Against War and Fascism, Feb. 20, 1934, Allen Papers, DG 53, series C-5, box 14, folder: League Against War and Fascism, 1934.
24. Devere Allen to Constance Muste Hamilton, Feb. 28, 1953, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 76, folder Ha-Hn.
25. Devere Allen to Rufus M. Jones, July 14, 1941, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 37, folder: J.
26. Devere Allen to Oswald Garrison Villard, Mar. 18, 1931, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 1, folder: Nation correspondence.
27. Devere Allen, "Biographical Material Supplementing 1931-32 and 1933-34 Edition, Who's Who in America," Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. A, box 1, folder: About DA, 1935-1936.
28. Devere Allen to Norman Thomas, Aug. 9, 1950, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 66, folder: T.
29. Devere Allen to Alfred Hassler, Oct. 4, 1950, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-5, box 11a, Fellowship of Reconciliation (U.S.), folder: 1950.
30. Devere Allen to Sidney Aberman, Jan. 7, 1953, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-5, box 21, War Resisters League, folder: 1953.
31. Marie Allen to John Nevin Sayre, , Sayre Papers, DG 117, ser. A, box 1, folder: Allen, Marie,1963-1967.
32. Devere Allen, "Confidential Memorandum" [to editors of The Nation], , Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 1, folder: Nation correspondence.
33. E. Dixwell Chase to the United States Attorney General, Mar. 8, 1943, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C 4, box 46, folder: Office correspondence, Mar. 1943.
34. Charles Chatfield, ed., Devere Allen: Life and Writings, p. 40.
35. E. Dixwell Chase to R.T. House, Oct. 13, 1942, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. D-1, box 1, fldr: World Events.
36. Devere Allen to Mrs. S. Foster Hunt, Dec. 9, 1952, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 72, folder: H.
37. Alice Barry to J.B. Gladstone, May 26, 1947, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 53, folder: G.
38. "New-Type Periodical, 'World Interpreter', in Armistice Day Debut," Nov. 11 , Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. D-2, box 2, folder: World Interpreter.
39. "Journalist for Peace," Fellowship, April 1955, p. 10, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. D-2, box 1, folder: Worldover Press- History.
40. Devere Allen to Corky [Stutts], June 27, 1955, Allen Papers, DG 53, ser. C-4, box 85, folder: S.
42. Fellowship, op. cit., p. 8.
43. Devere Allen to Mrs. S. Foster Hunt, op. cit.
44. Marie Allen to John Nevin Sayre, Apr. 11, 1963, Sayre Papers, DG 117, ser. A., box 1, folder: Allen, Marie, 1963-1967.
45. Devere Allen to Corky [Stutts], op. cit.
46. Devere Allen to Corky [Stutts], op. cit.
For more information, contact the Curator at: firstname.lastname@example.org.