Elizabeth Almira Allen (1854-1919), the first female president of NJEA, was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) on Oct. 27. She was recognized in the public service category.
Allen rose to prominence in our union as a result 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 teacher pension program in the United States.
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.
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. Learn more about Elizabeth A. Allen
NJEA has a long-standing partnership with the NJHOF as one of the organization’s founding sponsors. NJEA Executive Director Steve Swetsky notes, “Our state has such a rich history and New Jersey residents have accomplished so much on behalf of our nation and world. We are proud to be one of the founding sponsors of the New Jersey Hall of Fame, where we can showcase these accomplishments. 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 an 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.
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