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Orrin P. Allen diaries

Identifier: C-61

Scope and Contents

A series of manuscript pocket diaries, alternately terse and unusually expressive, kept by Vermont-born druggist and (in later life) local historian Orrin Peer Allen of Palmer, Worcester County, Massachusetts, to record concisely his extensive reading, writing for periodicals, drugstore work, love, married life, grief, socializing, use of photography, war and political news, and travel from 1860 to 1866. Most of his most expressive entries record his delight in his wife's presence, and his grief at her slow decline, death and permanent absence, but he also devoted emotional passages to several political events, as when he reported his and his fellow town folks' reactions to Lincoln's assassination and his joy upon learning of Congressional passage of the 13th Amendment. In his final notebook, comprising occasional entries for the period 1907-1912, Allen recorded reading in nearby libraries, attending poetry recitations, working with the Palmer Historical Society, and losing his mother. In the last entry, Allen recorded witnessing President Taft's April 25, 1912 visit to Palmer, just as he recorded witnessing Charles Sumner's, and General Grant's visits. The collection contains nine volumes: seven volumes of diaries for 1860-1866, one volume of household financial accounts for 1860-1861, and one diary volume for 1907-1912.


  • Creation: 1860-1912
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1860-1866


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

Orrin P. Allen was born in Wallingford, Vermont, and educated at Chester Academy. He worked as a schoolteacher in Vermont and New Jersey until moving to Palmer in October 1859 to work as a druggist. After settling in as a border in the house of his first business partner (Dr. A. M. Higgins), Allen commenced diary keeping on January 1, 1860. Allen married Hattie Gavin of Boston on February 20, 1860, and the couple had a daughter, Ina Lyndon, on May 16, 1861. Hattie died on February 25, 1862, and Allen married Lucinda Scott of Vermont on June 16, 1863.


1 Box

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was purchased by Middlebury College 8/7/05.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States