Pamela P. Allen Papers, 1964, 1967-1980


Pamela P. Allen, a founder of the radical Women's Liberation Movement, was born in Pennsylvania in 1943. In 1965, she received an undergraduate degree in religion from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. While in college Allen joined Students for a Democratic Society, and spent the summer of 1963 working in a day camp in a northern Philadelphia ghetto. For one semester of her junior year, in 1964, she was an exchange student at Spelman College, a Black women's school in Atlanta, Georgia. From Spelman College, Allen was recruited as a freedom school teacher in Mississippi. After graduation from Carleton, Allen accepted a position with a private child-services agency in New York City as a caseworker responsible for placement of foster children. In the fall of 1967, Allen and Shulamith Firestone organized the women's group, Radical Women. Shortly after the group's formation, members attended planning sessions for the Jeannette Rankin Brigade action, which culminated in the group's participation with 5,000 others in a march for peace in January 1968. Early in 1968 Allen worked for the newsweekly, The Guardian.

In August 1968, Ms. Allen moved to San Francisco and became involved with the city's first women's liberation small group, Sudsofloppen. On the basis of the group's experiences, she wrote Free Space: A Perspective on the Small Group in Women's Liberation (Times Change Press, 1970). She also collaborated with her husband, Robert L. Allen, on The Reluctant Reformers: The Impact of Racism on American Society Reform Movements and completed two videotape scripts, Could We Be Heard and The Uprising of the 20,000. Another script dealing with Ida B. Wells and the Anti-Lynching Campaign was never produced. Her shorter writings include “The Small Group Process,” a group of Guardian letters and editorials, and papers for women's seminars and conferences.

As a lecturer, Ms. Allen spoke on women's struggles and provided the impetus for two women's seminars in the San Francisco area. In the fall of 1970, she helped to organize Breakaway, a women's liberation educational project, and taught a seminar on institutional racism. In 1971, she proposed and taught a similar series of classes sponsored by the YWCAs of the Bay area. Allen also participated in an October 1971 conference at Chico State College, Chico, California, as well as a Child Conference sponsored by the Welfare League of America. Allen's other activities include participation in International Women's Day, action with Women, Inc. in labor protests against Fibreboard Corporation, participation in the Bridal Fair Action of 1969, and general promotion of the radical arm of women's liberation. Chude Pamela Allen has centered her teachings not only on the radical women's liberation movement, but she has also fought racism and discrimination of all kinds. Frequently, she has acted with her husband, Robert L. Allen, who is Black and the author of several books dealing with racism, capitalism, and similar concerns of the 1960s.