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.