Elizabeth Almira Allen (1854-1919), the first female president of NJEA, has been chosen as a 2019 New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) inductee in the category of public service.
Allen, a 48-year veteran of the Hoboken School District, successfully advocated for the first educator tenure law and the first teacher pension program in the United States. She served as NJEA president, then known as the New Jersey State Teachers Association, from 1913 through 1914.
Remembered as an outspoken and persistent advocate for women and public education, Allen’s tireless campaigning over the course of three months in 1896 motivated more than half of New Jersey’s teachers to enroll in the newly minted teacher retirement plan when it was signed into law.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced Allen during his presentation of the NJHOF inductees at Newark Liberty International Airport.
“Elizabeth Allen served as the first woman president of the New Jersey Education Association and advocated for the rights of some of the world’s most influential leaders—our educators,” said Murphy.
NJEA has a long-standing partnership with the NJHOF as one of the organization’s founding sponsors. NJEA Executive Director Ed Richardson was present for the announcement.
“NJEA is proud to be able to say that we have been a founding sponsor of the New Jersey Hall of Fame from its inception,” said Richardson. “We respect where we have come from and strive to honor the individuals who got us here, particularly advocates for public education like Elizabeth Allen. The NJHOF is an excellent way to bring New Jersey’s rich history and the accomplishments of our residents to future generations.”
“We are thrilled to see Elizabeth Allen, a fierce, lifelong advocate of public education, recognized for her part in shaping our history,” said current NJEA President Marie Blistan. “Thanks to her foresight and unrelenting insistence on providing educators with job protection and a pension plan that prevented poverty after retirement, New Jersey has been able to build the best public education system in this county. It is an honor to follow in her footsteps.”
Allen joins former educator Clara Barton as a NJHOF member. Though best known for her courage on the battlefield during the Civil War and as founder of the Red Cross, Barton also created New Jersey’s first free public school during her nine years as a teacher in Bordentown. She was placed in the NJHOF in 2008, the organization’s inaugural year.
To find out more about the New Jersey Hall of Fame, visit njhalloffame.org.