Gladys Allen

Efforts of civic leaders in the late nineteenth century to provide greater educational opportunities established Waco as the “Athens of Texas.” This reputation was later preserved in the early to mid-twentieth century through the dedication of educators such as Gladys Allen, whose research and charitable giving left a lasting legacy in the city. 

Gladys Allen was born on June 2, 1897, to Sam L. and Florence (Morehead) Allen at Crawford, Texas. After going to Crawford public schools throughout her childhood, she attended Mary Hardin-Baylor College and Baylor University. Following her graduation from Baylor University in June of 1918, she served as the principal of a three-teacher school at Delia, Texas, in Limestone County for a year. Allen then moved to McLennan County in 1919 and joined the Waco school system and taught English. However, when her mother passed away in 1934, she resigned from the teaching profession in order to take over the management of the family home for her father.

Although she officially resigned from educational work in the 1930s, Allen did not leave the field entirely. In 1941, she became a member of the Baylor Board of Trustees and served her first term until 1947. She later served a second term from 1951 to 1953. During that time, she conducted research in order to disprove notions concerning perceived gender inequalities at Baylor University. This work played a large part in the university reclaiming admittance to the national chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), an organization which promotes educational opportunities for women and girls.

In addition to her educational efforts, Allen was highly involved in the Waco community. She attended Seventh & James Baptist Church while residing in Waco, where she also taught college students and Sunday school classes from 1928 to 1947. She served as president of Waco Young Women's Christian Association for ten years. She was also an active member of Waco Garden Club, Waco Garden Council, and the local branch of AAUW. During her many years of service to Waco and Baylor University, she resided at 1917 South Ninth Street (as indicated on map). She passed away on May 18, 1953, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Allen’s will furthered her desire to make a lasting difference on the Waco community. She bequeathed assets to Seventh & James and established three endowed scholarships at Baylor University: the Sam L. Allen Scholarship for business majors, Florence Morehead Scholarship for home economics majors, and Gladys Allen Scholarship. In order to honor her commitment to the university, city, and community, Baylor University named Gladys Allen Hall on the Baylor campus in her honor in 1956.

Images

(Gladys Allen, c. 1930)

(Gladys Allen, c. 1930)

After moving from Delia, Allen taught English classes at Waco High, a school well-known in the community for preparing students to become efficient and intelligent individuals. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

An Outstanding Citizen

An Outstanding Citizen

Allen served two separate terms on the Baylor University Board of Trustees between 1941 and 1953. This governing board was composed of "outstanding" citizens committed to the development of the university. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Educator and Scholar

Educator and Scholar

Allen's research concerning gender inequalities included comparing faculty ranking and salaries among various private and public colleges throughout the South. This work resulted in full accreditation by the American Association of University Women. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Gladys Allen Hall

Gladys Allen Hall

Workers completed construction on three new residence halls for Baylor students in 1954. The university named one of these dormitories on the south side of campus in honor of Gladys Allen. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Fostering Community

Fostering Community

The residential dining area in Gladys Allen Hall allowed students such as these young women to enjoy a sense of community while pursuing their academic studies. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Developing Future Leaders

Developing Future Leaders

Allen's commitment to the development of students through education lives on through this hall dedicated in her honor. Today, Allen Hall houses the men's half of Baylor's Leadership Living-Learning Center. The hall integrates students' academic studies with their residential life while also promoting leadership development. | Creator: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Audio

An Outstanding Woman

Merle Mears Duncan speaks of Gladys Allen's commitment to Baylor University and to Waco, as well as the scholarships and gifts she left to others. | Source: Duncan, Merle Mears McClellan interviewed by Janelle Easley, January 12, 1977, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. View the full interview View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Dayton Kelley, ed., The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas, “Gladys Allen,” Waco History, accessed July 27, 2017, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/89.

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