Elizabeth Almira Allen (1854-1919), the first female president of NJEA, was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame on Oct. 27. She was recognized in the public service category.
Allen rose to prominence in our union because of her advocacy for the well-being of educators. Allen championed the first pension system for school employees because she saw so many of her colleagues retiring to a life of poverty after long careers in education. She successfully advocated for the first educator tenure law and the first pension program for teachers in the United States.
Remembered as an outspoken and persistent advocate for women and public education, Allen’s campaigning over the course of three months in 1896 motivated more than half of New Jersey’s teachers to enroll in the newly created teacher retirement plan when it was signed into law.
Allen, a 48-year veteran of the Hoboken School District, served as NJEA president, then known as the New Jersey State Teachers’ Association, from 1913 through 1914. She continues to be a role model for effective advocacy and leadership in our profession. To learn more about Elizabeth A. Allen, visit njea.org/allen.
NJEA is one of the organization’s founding sponsors of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
“Our state has such a rich history and New Jersey residents have accomplished so much on behalf of our nation and world,” said NJEA Executive Director Steve Swetsky. “Having one of NJEA’s great advocates and its first female president included in this class of inductees is an honor.”
“We are thrilled to see Elizabeth Allen, a fierce, lifelong advocate of public education, recognized for her part in shaping our history,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “Thanks to her foresight and unrelenting insistence on providing educators with job protections and a pension plan that prevented poverty after retirement, New Jersey has been able to build the best public education system in this country. It is an honor to follow in her footsteps.”
Allen joins former educator Clara Barton as a Hall of Fame 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.