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Florence Allen papers, 1920-1997

Florence Allen papers, 1920-1997

Allen, Florence W. (Florence Wysinger), 1913-1997

Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 0.5 linear ft.

Summary: Writings, correspondence, b&w and color photographs of family and friends, including photos of Allen with Paul Newman and Harry Belafonte; clippings, and printed matter, including photocopies of newspaper and magazine articles.

Biographical/Historical Note

Florence Allen (1913-1997) was an artist's model from San Francisco, Calif.


Donated 1995 and 1999 by Florence Allen via Austin Conkey, an informal executor, who maintained Allen's papers for her.

A Finding Aid to the Florence Allen Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Biographical Note
Florence Wysinger Allen was born in Oakland, California, in 1913, the granddaughter of early African-American settlers. Her mother, née Moore, was a concert pianist, and her father, Arthur, as a boy in 1892, was named in the case of
Wysinger vs. Crookshank
which led to the desegregation of schools in California.
Florence Allen was educated at Fremont High School and later became involved in the San Francisco literary and artistic community as a civil rights activist and newspaper columnist. She began modeling in 1933 and worked as an artist's model for most of the prominent figurative painters working in the Bay Area of San Francisco, including Diego Rivera, Mark Rothko, and Wayne Thiebaud. She also worked as a model in university art classes, including those at the San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College, University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and the California College of Arts and Crafts.
In 1945, Ms. Allen founded the San Francisco Models' Guild. After injuries from a traffic accident limited her mobility in 1987, she became the Model Coordinator at the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland where she also taught a Model Certification Workshop.
Florence Allen died June 1, 1997 in El Sobrante, California.
Scope and Content Note
The papers of artist's model Florence Allen measure 0.5 linear feet and date from 1920-1997. Found within the papers are biographical material, scattered letters that generally discuss some of Allen's activities, miscellaneous notes and writings, a drawing and a silhouette, and clippings. The primary value of this collection rests in its wide variety of photographs. As well as 19th century photographs of Allen family members the collection contains photographs of Florence Allen posing for artists, socializing with famous friends such as Paul Robeson, Harry Belefonte, Paul Newman and Allen Ginsberg, and participating in protest marches. There is also an autographed photo of Bob Hope.
Donated 1995 and 1999 by Florence Allen via Austin Conkey, an informal executor, who maintained Allen's papers for her.
Processing Information
The papers were processed in July 2005 by Jean Fitzgerald.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Florence Allen papers, 1920-1997. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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