Allen, William Francis
- Renee Lapp Norris
(b Northborough, MA, Sept 5, 1830; d Madison, WI, Dec 9, 1889). American classical scholar, teacher, editor, and writer. Allen is best known musically as an editor of Slave Songs of the United States (New York, 1867), also edited by Charles Pickard Ware and Lucy McKim Garrison, who were white collectors of black music.
Allen graduated from Harvard in 1851, subsequently studied in Europe, and returned to the United States in 1856. In 1863 he began an eight-month stint as a teacher on St Helena Island in South Carolina, home to former slaves who remained after plantation owners left in 1861. Here, Allen gained first-hand experience of slave singing that contributed to the detailed explanations of his 36-page prologue to Slave Songs. In 1867 Allen was appointed chair of ancient languages at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he remained until his death.
Allen’s interest in philology is evident in the many pages of the prologue to ...