From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Allen, Bessie Miller and Henry

Bessie and Henry Allen were the first African American social workers in Louisville, KY. They managed the Kentucky Home Society for Colored Children. In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Henry (b. 1877 in KY) is listed as the janitor of the home and Bessie as the matron and probation officer.

Bessie Allen was a graduate of State University [Simmons University in Louisville]. She started a nonsectarian Sunday School in 1902. She was also head of the Colored Department of Probation Work and opened the Booker T. Washington Community Center, which offered domestic classes for boys and girls. She also organized a marching band for African American children.

Bessie Allen (1881-1944) was born in Louisville, KY, the daughter of Anna and John D. Miller. She and her husband Henry were the parents of author and librarian Ann Allen Shockley.

For more see "Ann A. Shockley" in A Biographical Profile of Distinguished Black Pioneer Female Librarians (selected), by L. G. Rhodes; and Life Behind a Veil, by G. Wright.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Allen, Bessie Miller and Henry,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-09-15 17:26:59