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Harold Egbert Allan papers

Identifier: 008

Scope and Contents

The papers of the noted Jamaican political leader, businessperson, and teacher Sir Harold Egbert Allan are comprised of items that document his political career and the family business, the Capitol Theatre. They include correspondence (letters, cards, and telegrams), biographical data and obituaries, speeches, clippings, photographs, programs, and scrapbooks. Letters, speeches and clippings related to Lady Edris Allan are also present.

Correspondence is arranged chronologically with eighty-eight items of correspondence that were received or sent by Allan.  The largest amount of correspondence is represented by letters and telegrams to and from Sir Alexander Bustamante, which pertain to politics and labor. The Bustamante correspondence covers a span of fourteen years. A few items pertain to Bustamante and the effort to secure his release after his internment by the British in 1940.

The second largest group of correspondence pertains to the staffing, operation, and use of the Capitol Theatre. Both Allan and his wife, wrote correspondence about this enterprise. This group of items shows the type of assistance that Lady Allan was able to provide her husband in management of the family business. There is a small sub-group of Lady Allan's papers with the collection. Lady Allan's correspondence includes twelve letters. Other items of correspondence pertain to travel, or is of a complimentary or personal nature. Family correspondence is minimal. A Christmas greeting from Allan to his wife is unique in the collection.

The speeches of Allan include several that were reported by the Jamaican press, one that was broadcast during the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission and Conference, and a sixteen page printed speech presented in the House of Representatives on the 1953 budget by Allan during his tenure as Minister of Finance and General Purposes. In addition, a few short speeches by Lady Allan are included in the clippings.

Programs and church bulletins in the collection are highly selective. Notable among those that indicate the honor and esteem in which Allan was held by his Alma Mater are programs pertaining to the presentation of the Mico Old Students Association Service Medal. In 1943, Allan was recipient of the medal; in 1948, Archdeacon L.A. Lennon was a recipient, and Allan participated in the program. Of further interest are two programs dated 1947 because it was at that time that the political leader and his wife were traveling outside of Jamaica. One of the programs is for the Fetes de Geneve; the church bulletin is for St. James Presbyterian Church in New York. Another program of interest is that for a memorial service held in East Queen Street Baptist Church in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. It demonstrates the wide impact of the Civil Rights Movement leader's message and program. 

The scrapbooks and clippings reveal facets of the public life of the political leader and his wife. His interest in development of the entire Caribbean is apparent in this group of items; friendships outside of Jamaica are evidenced in the clippings, and the multiplicity of activities in which Allan engaged on a consistent basis may be discovered from browsing the scrapbooks and clippings. The 1953 scrapbook is of special note because it is a memorial item and contains information about the final illness and death of Allan. Included in it are obituaries, clippings, condolences, and poems in honor of the esteemed leader. The summation of the achievements of Sir Harold is documented in this group of items.

Biographical data within the collection may be found in the scrapbooks and clippings; however, an important source for this kind of information is the booklet circulated by the Port Antonio Election Committee. The title of the item is "A Son of Jamaica." Together with the scrapbooks and clippings, this booklet helps place the career of Allan in proper perspective.

The press was generous in its coverage of Allan's activities. Whenever honors were bestowed upon him, the press reported it. European and Jamaican papers noted his activities and any facts about his non-political interests are revealed in the scrapbooks and clippings. The press reports his role in the organization of the Northside Cricket Club. Lady Allan is also given press coverage for some of the activities in which she engaged in; however, she merited attention as an individual, and she received it. Her contribution to such organizations as the Jamaica Federation of Women, and the Jamaica Success Club is documented in clippings and scrapbooks.

No calendars or notebooks of Sir Harold are included in the papers. Notebooks, however, have been maintained by Lady Allan and provide an indication of her activities. While the social obligations in which she participated are characteristic for women of her status, the active role that she played in women's organizations can only be attributed to her own interest and ability as a Jamaican and as a woman.

Group and individual photographs of the Allans and their acquaintances are included in the collection. Some of the photographs document highlights in the life of the couple. Notable among the acquaintances included in the photographic record is Sir Alexander Bustamante. Augmenting the photographs are print or souvenir post cards associated with the travels of Allan and his wife.

Various items in the collection include a license for the operation of the Capitol Theatre (1948), grandstand tickets for a cricket match, a vaccination certificate for Lady Allan (1947), notes, itinerary, campaign songs, a receipt, a Church of England Order of Worship (1953), and other items. These items bear a relationship to the career and social activities of Allan, and contribute to the fuller understanding of the numerous forces that interacted to create the man whom his country would honor as one of its national heroes.

The papers of Sir Harold Egbert Allan are unique among the holdings of the Amistad Research Center because they are the personal papers of a major black political leader in the government of a foreign state. The collection complements the Center's holdings of American Missionary Association (AMA) documents that cover a forty-year period of the Association's educational work with freed Jamaican slaves in the nineteenth century. In addition, the papers of Dr. Kenneth B. Crooks, a native Jamaican educator and scientist, complement the Allan papers. The three collections have great potential for the study of Jamaican affairs.


  • Created: 1923-1974
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1975


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Biographical Note

Sir Harold Egbert Allan was an educator, businessman, and politician in Jamaica. His political career spanned from 1926 until his death in 1953. During that time he held numerous positions within the colonial government and was vocal in lobbying for improved social, trade, and economic conditions on the island.

Sir Harold Egbert Allan was born on March 15, 1894, in Springbank, Portland. His parents were Patrick Kerr Allan and Charlotte Elizabeth Pearce. Allan graduated from Mico College and became the assistant master at Calabar Elementary School. He later became the head master at Titchfield Upper School. He dedicated fourteen years of his life to education. In 1919, he introduced motion pictures to Portland. In 1924, he established the Capitol Theatre, and from 1926 to 1935, Allan was elected to the Portland Parochial Board. In 1928, he founded the Parochial Boards Association and held the executive post until his death. He was appointed Justice of Peace for Portland in 1930, and in 1935, he became the elected member of the Legislative Council of Portland and the founder of the Association of elected Members of Jamaica Legislature.

Allan was appointed by the Secretary of State for the colony in 1938 to investigate the labor disturbances at Frome. He was appointed to the Conciliation and Arbitration Boards in 1939. He married Edris Elaine Trottman in 1941. In 1942, he became the recipient of the Order of the British Empire. For two years, 1942 to 1944, he served as Privy Councillor. He received the Mico Old Student's Service Medal in 1943, and the following year, he was elected to the first House of Representatives under new construction as a member for Eastern Portland. He lobbied the London Colonial Office for changes in low wages, abominable housing conditions, and unemployment of Jamaican Labor Department. He represented Jamaica at the Anglo-American Commission in Barbados, and was the forerunner of the Caribbean Commission. In 1945, he became the Minister of Finance and General Purposes and also became the Leader of the House and First Lieutenant in the Bustemante government. In 1946, he was named "Man of the Year," and the following year he served as chairman of the British West Indies Delegation to the World Trade Conference held in London and Geneva. In 1948, he became the first black Jamaican to receive the accolade of being a "Knight" from George VI in recognition of his long years of public service to the people of Jamaica and the British Commonwealth. Allan died February 18, 1953, and was buried at the Half Way Tree Cemetery.


0.80 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Lady Allan was the wife of Sir Harold Egbert Allan.

Source of Acquisition

Lady Edris B. Allan

Method of Acquisition


Appraisal Information

The collection contains correspondence, speeches, biographical data, clippings, photos, honors and awards, scrapbooks, and other various items. The items relate to the business, professional, and social life of Sir Harold Egbert Allan, with a smaller number of items pertaining to Lady Edris B. Allan's social and business affairs. Organizations mentioned include: The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, Jamaican Federation of Women, The Lady Miss Charity, Jamaica Success Club, Northside Cricket Club, The Jamaican Provident and Benevolent Society, and The Port Antonio Election Committee. Notable correspondents include: Sir William Alexander Bustamante, John B. Higham, Sir Edward Denham, Leopold Lynch, D.C. McGillivray, Evelyn Ming, and F.A. Wallace.

Existence and Location of Originals

Microfilm copy is available for research use.

Other Descriptive Information

The index to correspondence is attached as a PDF file.

Processing Information

The collection was processed June 19, 1978.

Harold Egbert Allan papers
Florence E. Border
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Amistad Research Center Repository

6823 Saint Charles Avenue
Tilton Hall, Tulane University
New Orleans LA 70118 US
(504) 862-3222