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Young John Allen papers

Identifier: Manuscript Collection No. 11

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Young John Allen from 1854-1938. The papers include correspondence, writings, material related to his missionary activity in China, printed material, family papers, and photographs. The majority of the papers concern the years Young John Allen served as a missionary in China for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. His correspondence details his relationship with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, his family, and other missionaries. Writings include sermons and unpublished manuscript drafts and concern missionary work, particularly in China. Records of the China missions, including reports, curriculum, financial records, architectural drawings, and minutes detail the day-to-day operations of the missionary schools established by Young John Allen. Printed material includes clippings by and about Young John Allen, pamphlets, minutes, and circulars, primarily published by organizations affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, its mission board, and the Woman's Missionary Board. Other papers include personal material such as tax assessments, Young John Allen's will, tributes, research materials of Allen's grandson George R. Loehr, Jr., and school papers of the Allen children. The Allen papers also include photographs of the Allen family, missionaries in China and Korea such as Yun Ch'i Ho, and Allen residences and memorials.


  • 1854-1938

Language of Materials

Materials in English and Chinese.

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Biographical Note

Young John Allen (January 3, 1836–May 30, 1907) was born in Burke County, Georgia, the son of Andrew Young John Allen and Jane Wooten Allen. His father died during the November before his birth, and his mother died twelve days after his birth. His father left him a comfortable patrimony. By the dying request of his mother he was given to the care of her sister Nancy Hutchins and her husband Wiley Hutchins. His foster parents moved with him to Meriwether County, Georgia. He was fifteen years old when he learned that his name was not Hutchins but Allen.

Although his family belonged to the Primitive Baptist Church, Allen came under Methodist influence. In 1853 he had a conversion experience and at the same time felt himself called to the Christian ministry. After one term at Emory and Henry College in Virginia, he entered Emory College in the fall term of 1854. He graduated with honor on July 21, 1858. On July 22, 1858, he married Mary Houston, daughter of Samuel and Sarah Germany Houston. She was born February 16, 1839 in Coweta County, Georgia, and she graduated on July 14, 1858 from Wesleyan College in Macon.

On December 18, 1859 Young John and Mary Allen and their infant daughter, Mellie, sailed from New York, and on July 13, 1860 they reached Shanghai. From 1861 to 1866, while he was cut off from his church and from funds from the Board of Missions by the Civil War, Allen worked as a coal and rice broker, a cotton buyer, and teacher. He strove to master the Chinese language and adopted the name Lin Yuezhi [or Lezhi]. Though he continued to preach throughout his life in China, he gained his most lasting fame as a journalist, translator, publisher and educator.

In need of a salary to support his familiy, Allen took his first job in journalism as an editor at the Shanghai News (Shanghai xinbao) in May 1868. After only four months in the business, he founded the The Church News (Jiaohui xinbao), a journal with “a decidedly religious focus.” In September 1874, he reorganized this paper to match the secular interests of the urban Chinese elites and renamed it The Globe Magazine (Wanguo gongbao). Allen served as general editor of the Globe until July 1883 when he decided that his work as Superintendent of the Methodist Mission in China, to which he had succeeded J. W. Lambuth in May 1881, required his full attention. With financial backing from the Society for the Diffusion of Christian and General Knowledge Among the Chinese (Guangxuehui), the The Globe Magazine (Wanguo gongbao) resumed publication under the new English title A Review of the Times in February 1889. Allen returned as general editor, a position he held until his death in 1907.

Under Allen's editorship the revived The Globe Magazine (Wanguo gongbao) became the most influential news magazine in 1890s China. The journal was seen as the richest and most reliable source of information from and about the West and other regions outside of China. Many essays and translations serialized in the Review were published as monographs, adding to Allen's reputation as one of Shanghai's most capable publishers. Further journalistic endeavors included the short-lived Monthly Educator (Yizhi xinlu, 1877–1978), which he conceived as a religious complement to the The Globe Magazine (Wanguo gongbao), and the Christian Advocate (Jiaobao) that he edited as the official organ of the Methodist Mission from 1900 to 1907.

Through his work as journalist and editor, Allen was able to build an extensive network of acquaintances throughout China. He became deeply involved in the debates of the time. In his journalistic writings and more than one hundred volumes of translations and original works published in his name, he communicated Western concepts of economics, history, politics, international relations, natural science, and gender equality. His calls for basic changes in Chinese society and political institutions had a profound impact on reform-minded scholars and officials in the decades leading up to the fall of the Chinese empire in 1911.

As Superintendent Allen placed particular emphasis on building Christian educational institutions. In 1883 he purchased land for the site of the Anglo-Chinese College (Ying-Hua shuyuan), which he served as president from its opening in 1885 until his resignation in 1895 because of impaired health. He was instrumental in founding the McTyeire Home and School for Girls (Zhong-Xi nüshu) which opened in 1892 with Miss Laura Haygood, sister of his old friend and Emory classmate, Atticus Haygood, as its head. He also played a part in the foundation of Soochow University, which accepted its first students in 1900. The missions of his church to Japan and Korea were also influenced by the success of Allen's educational work in Shanghai, not least through such prominent students as Yun Ch'i-ho (T. H. Yun), the first Korean student to attend Emory and founder of an Anglo-Chinese College in Seoul.

Allen returned to the United States only five times. During his first visit, on July 17, 1878, Emory College conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws. After forty-seven years in China, Allen died in Shanghai on May 30, 1907. He was buried on the Baxianqiao Road Cemetery in the French Concession and is commemorated both in the southeastern United States and in Shanghai.


16.75 linear feet (35 boxes); 2 oversized papers boxes and 2 oversized papers folders (OP); 3 bound volumes (BV)


Papers of missionary Young John Allen, including correspondence, writings, material related to his missionary activites in China, printed material, family papers, and photographs.

Arrangement Note

Organized into six series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Writings of Young J. Allen, (3) China Missions, (4) Printed material, (5) Other papers, and (6) Photographs.

Finding Aid Note

A name index to Young John Allen's incoming and outgoing correspondence is available.


Gift of Dr. George R. Loehr, 1966, with subsequent additions from 1991 to 1999.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

The Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) has transcribed selected documents from the collection which are available through ECDS's Young John Allen Papers site.

Separated Material

Emory University also holds portions of the private library of Young John Allen. These materials may be located in the Emory University online catalog by searching for: Allen, Young John, 1836-1907, former owner.

Microfilm copies of Chinese newspapers published by Allen have also been cataloged individually.


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File name: allen11.doc


Processed by Elizabeth Russey, 2007.

Control level 3

File name: allen11.doc

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Young John Allen papers, 1854-1938
Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University
October 31, 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library Repository

540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta Georgia 30322 United States