Eugenia Allin: One Woman's Contribution to Millikin University

The year was 1903 and James Millikin University was on the brink of opening its doors to students for the first time. Before that could happen, faculty and staff members had to be hired. One woman, Eugenia Allin, was soon hired as the University's first librarian. On her application for employment, she wrote that from 1900-1903 she attended the University of Illinois, where she received her education in Library Science.

Her education would serve her well as she tackled the task of starting a University library from scratch. The very first book that she accessioned, or made available for use, was Charles Darwin's Animals and Plants Under Domestication. She purchased two copies, followed by one copy of The Origin of Species, also by Charles Darwin. By the end of the first school year (1903-1904), the library held 1,868 books, none of which cost more than $5.00 per copy.

In addition to her responsibilities as the University's librarian, she was the sole instructor in the School of Library Science. According to the February 1904 University Bulletin, she taught courses on library economy, book sources, book selection, reference, and book making.

During her time at the University, Miss Allin saw many changes to the physical campus. The library went from a "suite of rooms" in the Liberal Arts Hall (now known as Shilling Hall), to a much larger space in Gorin Hall by 1931. The reading room on the third floor of Gorin Hall was considered to be the most beautiful room on campus, with its large fireplace, built in seats, and vaulted beamed ceilings. Miss Allin played an integral part in the design of the new library, specifying details for its functionality as well as its aesthetic appeal.

It came as no surprise then, that she was granted Librarian Emeritus status after her retirement in June 1947, following 40 years of service (1903-1910, 1914-1947). In October of 1962, a room was named and dedicated to her in Gorin Hall as recognition of her contribution to Millikin University. The Eugenia Allin Room still exists, though the room is now the University Archives in Staley Library.

Miss Allin continued as a patron of the University library for many years after her retirement. She died in September of 1970 at the age of 93.

Library accession book

This is the first Accession book for the library, and this first entry in it is from 1903. The first book Miss Allin made available for use was Animals and Plants Under Domestication by Charles Darwin, and that very book is still in the library collection.

Ms. Allin's employment application

This application for employment (above) looks typical at first glance. If you look closely, however, you will see that the application asks for the height, weight, general health, nationality, and religion of the applicant.

Eugenia Allin, Students, and Faculty

Miss Allin is pictured here (above) in the early 1900s with faculty members who were friends, as well as a few students. Since there is a picture of Teddy Roosevelt being held, one might expect that it was around the time of his appearance on campus in 1903. Top row (L to R): Edward Grubel (student), Eugenia Allin, James Ashmore, May Mills (student). Bottom row (L to R): Bailey, Helen Stone, Calvert Dyer, Ada Lindsay, Frank Lindsay.

1904 Bulletin Left: This February 1904 Millikin Bulletin lists Eugenia Allin as the instructor in library science, as well as the courses that she taught.
Right: Miss Allin poses with her library science protégés in 1906, during her first years of instruction. 1906 library science students
Millikin's first library Millikin's first library

The pictures above show the library as it looked when it was housed in the Liberal Arts Hall (now known as Shilling Hall). The first picture (above, left) shows the library before it even had light fixtures. Notice that there are only nine bookcases! By the mid to late 1920s (above, right), the collection had expanded, décor had changed, and light fixtures had been installed.

Elizabethan Study Room Left: This picture shows the beauty of what was first referred to as the Reading Room, then the Elizabethan Study. Miss Allin played a large role in what furniture was used when Gorin Library (now Gorin Hall) was being designed. The bookcases that you see are still in use-three of them are currently in the University Archives.
Right: Eugenia Allin poses for a picture with the plaque that was made in her honor by Zeta Tau Alpha in recognition of her service to the University. The picture was probably taken in October 1962, when the Allin Room was dedicated in Gorin Hall. The plaque can now be seen next to the University Archives door. Eugenia Allin

This page created June 20, 2005
Last modified October 28, 2005
Copyright: Millikin University Board of Trustees