Amelia Sanborn Allen, born 1874 in Missouri, was a pioneering woman in the ornithological field and a lifelong lover of birds,
particularly those of California and Berkeley. She came to California in 1888 as a young woman with her family and served
as a schoolteacher during the late 1800s until she married James T. Allen, a professor, and moved to Berkeley at the turn
of the century. Berkeley was where she began her ornithological work through a course in Zoology taught by A. J. Cook, and
through field trips throughout California with her husband and with professor Charles R. Keyes. It was Keyes who introduced
her to the Cooper Club (now Cooper Ornithological Society) and its prestigious members such as Barlow, Emerson, and Grinnell.
Allen flourished in the Cooper Club, and became a notable female member in 1913. In her own memoir (in the collection) she
writes, “I believe there were no women, or if they did belong to the club they were not supposed to attend the meetings.”
Allen, however, broke that precedent and was elected Secretary of the Northern Division in 1916, Vice-President in 1925 and
eventually President in 1926. She was the first woman to hold the office. Allen was also an expressive writer, detailed note-taker,
and published author. Her writings appear in such publications as The Condor and The University of California Chronicle. She
died in 1945 at her home in Strawberry Canyon in Berkeley, where she had been observing the local birds for over 30 years.
References: Fidler, Christina. “In the ‘Early Days.’” MVZ Archives. Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 12 Aug.
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