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Identifier: R-MC 162

Harold B. Allen Educational Activities of the Near East Foundation Files 


  • Majority of material found within 1929-1937

Scope and Content Note

The Harold B. Allen Educational Activities of the Near East Foundation Files is made up of 0.5 cubic feet of material, comprising two discrete series. The first series is further divided into two subseries. The first of these subseries contains reports by Harold B. Allen, the Near East Foundation's Director of Education, on the efforts of the Macedonian Village Extension Program between the years 1928 and 1937. The second subseries contains additional information on the educational activities of the Near East Foundation during this time. Series II consists of school notebooks, in Turkish, from 1930-1932. These are of unknown provenance, but they presumably come from Turkish education programs of the Near East Foundation.


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box)

Language of Materials

English and Turkish


This collection contains papers related to the educational activities of the Near East Foundation, an international relief organization founded in 1915 with the purpose of providing relief to Armenians in Turkey. In the 1920's, the organization shifted its mission toward providing education and aiding development in the area. A prototype of this new mission was tried out in Macedonia, a region of northeastern Greece, under the direction of Harold B. Allen. The reports herein give evidence of the work of that program, as well as that of other of the Near East Foundation's educational programs throughout the area. There are also included school notebooks that provide examples of the Near East Foundation's educational work in Turkey.

Administrative Sketch

The Near East Foundation was founded in 1915 as the American Committee for Syrian and Armenian Relief by American businessman and philanthropist Cleveland H. Dodge. At the urging of Henry Morgenthau, Sr., United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time, Dodge assembled business, civic, and religious leaders and set a goal of raising $100,000 as a way to provide relief to Armenians then under duress in Turkey. The money was quickly raised and used to provide food, clothing, health care, and housing for the Armenian refugees.

In 1919, an act of Congress changed the organization's name to Near East Relief and made it the primary conduit for aid in the Near East. Throughout the First World War and into the 1920's, Near East Relief was well known for its relief work in Turkey, especially its service to the many orphans there. This prominence was due not least to its arresting advertisements bearing pictures of suffering Armenians alongside phrases such as "Lest They Perish" and "Hunger Knows No Armistice." Between 1915 and 1930, the organization raised $110 million.

The end of the war in Europe did not signal peace in the Near East, and the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, culminating in the sack of Smyrna in September, 1922, caused the exodus to Greece of more than 800,000 Greeks then living in Turkey, many of them settling in Macedonia. (Macedonia here refers not to today's Republic of Macedonia, but to a region in northeastern Greece north of the Aegean Sea.) The enormous number of refugees prompted Near East Relief to expand their relief effort into Greece.

As the former refugees settled in Macedonia, Near East Relief saw the need to provide practical help for them beyond the necessities of food and shelter. The work of Near East Relief thus began to extend to vocational education and rural development. In 1930, to emphasize this transition, Near East Relief changed its name to Near East Foundation. The prototype for this changed mission was the Macedonian Village Extension Program, which set up schools for general and vocational (usually agricultural) instruction in towns throughout Macedonia and taught health, sanitation, and home-making to the people living there.

By 1933, the Near East Foundation was running programs in Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Macedonia, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, and the Caucuses (today's Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia). The Near East Foundation began extensive work in Iran beginning in the 1940's. In the ensuing years, the Near East Foundation was used as a prototype for relief efforts such as the Peace Corps and the work undertaken by the United Nations.

In 2010, the Near East Foundation moved from New York City to the campus of Syracuse University in New York and began a partnership with the University. It remains involved in many of the same countries as it was in the first half of the twentieth century, as well as in Mali, Morocco, and other parts of Africa.

Biographical Sketch for Harold B. Allen

Harold Boughton Allen was born on August 4, 1891, in Carlton, New York, the son of Albert M. and Lucy May Boughton Allen. Allen attended Albion High School in Albion, New York and Cortland Normal School (now SUNY Cortland) in Cortland, New York. Lacking money to complete a college degree immediately, he taught high school in New York and New Jersey and took summer courses at Cornell University and extension courses from Columbia University before finishing his Bachelor of Science at Rutgers College in 1922. (He would receive his Master of Science in 1928 and an honorary Litt.D. from Rutgers in 1937.) After his graduation, Allen became an Assistant in Agricultural Education in the Rural Education Department at Rutgers. He was married on May 22, 1926 to Agnes Walling.

In 1926, Allen secured a two-year leave of absence from Rutgers to work with Near East Relief in the Caucasus. There he took charge of an agricultural school for orphans and within months was named Educational Director of Near East Relief's entire operation in the Caucuses, which put him in charge of about 5,000 students. In 1928, he was made Educational Director of the entire Foundation, resigned from Rutgers, and was sent to Greece.

This was at a time when Near East Relief (soon to be renamed Near East Foundation) was making a transition from a relief organization to one concerned more broadly with development through education. Allen's particular focus was in Macedonia, a newly reincorporated area of northeastern Greece that had received hundreds of thousands of refugees following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. Allen was tasked with creating a model of rural extension in Macedonia. For more than ten years, from 1928 to 1938, he worked to set up schools and educate the population—both children and adults—in modern methods of agriculture, homemaking, and sanitation. The schools also taught a general education program. His account of his work in Macedonia can be found in his 1943 book, Come Over Into Macedonia. During this time he also supervised programs of rural education in other parts of Greece, as well as in Albania, Bulgaria, Syria, Palestine, Turkey, and Cyprus. Allen set down the lessons learned from the broad experience in his 1953 book, Rural Reconstruction in Action. In 1938, Allen left Greece and returned to the United States.

From 1939 through 1943, Allen served as President of the National Farm School in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. In 1939, he made a survey of the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. In 1943, he returned full-time to the Near East Foundation and resumed work in Greece, Syria, and Lebanon. In that same year, he made a six-month survey of rural conditions in Iran to advise on applying a system of rural extension and basic education to that country. In the early 1950's, Allen worked with the British Colonial Office as well as with UNESCO's Mission in Fundamental Education to the Arab States. In 1956, he made a survey of Ghana. In 1957, he was made a University Associate at Columbia University, and in that same year Allen stepped down as Educational Director of the Near East Foundation, though he remained an active adviser to the organization until the time of his death.

Allen was given many honors for his service. One he was particularly proud of was the Gold Cross of the Order of the Phoenix, given to him by the Greek government at the end of his service there in 1938. Allen had no children. His wife Agnes died in May, 1970. He died in Red Bank, New Jersey, on July 9, 1970, at the age of 78.

Arrangement Note

The arrangement within the two subseries of Series I is chronological. The notebooks and scrapbooks in Series II are maintained in the order in which they were first filed by the University's librarians.


Selected Bibliography

Allen, Harold B. Come Over Into Macedonia: The Story of a Ten-Year Adventure in Uplifting a War-Torn People. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1943.

Allen, H.B. Rural Education and Welfare in the Middle East: A Report to the Director General Middle East Supply Centre. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1946.

Allen, Harold B. Rural Reconstruction in Action: Experience in the Near and Middle East. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1953.

Barton, James L. Story of Near East Relief (1915-1930): An Interpretation. New York: Macmillan, 1930.

Miers, Earl Schenck. "A New Deal for the Near East." Rutgers Alumni Monthly, March-April 1936: 4-6.

Near East Foundation, A Twentieth Century Concept of Practical Philanthropy, 2nd edition. New York: Near East Foundation, 1933.

Near East Foundation Web site.

Processing Note

Additional processing of this collection was completed by Alexandra Deangelis in May 2020.

Processing Note

Additional processing of this collection was completed by Alexandra Deangelis in May 2020.

Inventory to the Harold B. Allen Educational Activities of the Near East Foundation Files R-MC 162
Edited Full Draft
David Golann
May 2012
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository

Rutgers University Libraries
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