Albion Fellows Bacon

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Albion Fellows Bacon

Albion Fellows Bacon (April 8, 1865 – December 10, 1933) was an American reformer and writer from Evansville, Indiana. Bacon became Indiana's foremost "municipal housekeeper," a Progressive Era term for women who applied their domestic skills to social problems plaguing their communities. She is remembered most for her efforts to improve public housing standards.


Fellows was born in Evansville, Indiana, the daughter of Albion Fellows and Mary Erskine,[1] though they soon moved to McCutchanville, Indiana where she grew up. Her father was a Methodist minister and her older sister was writer Annie Fellows Johnston. As a child she liked to write poetry and dreamed of going to an art institute.[2] One of the poems she wrote was entitled “The Last Day” and was about her last day in elementary school:

Our days at school are almost past,
And this, the brightest, is the last,
The last of all those hours so bright,
Illuminated with sweet wisdom’s light.

But still the sun rolls on the same,
Its burning orb of living flame,
Though those who love its cheery light,
Are parted from each other’s sight.

The brook still ripples o’er the stone,
Heedless of what Old Time has done,
Though those that wandered by its side,
Will soon be scattered far and wide,
While in the hearts of us alone,
Will live the thoughts of all that’s gone.[3]

After graduating from Evansville High School, Fellows worked as a secretary and court reporter. She then toured Europe with her sister before marrying Hilary Bacon, a local banker and merchant, in 1888. The couple settled in Evansville and had four children.[4] Over the next few years she settled into a lifestyle of middle-class domesticity, having several children and later in 1897 publishing Songs Ysame, a volume of verse with her sister. However she would soon be afflicted with an illness that lasted several years, which may have had an effect, if only perceived, on her later creativity.

She one day almost by chance came upon the riverfront slums in Evansville, and soon became a "friendly visitor" for the local associated charities. Before long she was able to find an outlet in these voluntary and welfare campaigns, organizing the Men's Circle of Friendly Visitors, the Flower Mission for poor working girls, an Anti-Tuberculosis League, a Working Girls' Association, and the Monday Night Club of influential citizens interested in charitable work. She soon determined substandard housing to be the main cause of social problems, and would attempt to have regulation on tenements added to new city building codes, but was unsuccessful.

By 1908, Fellows decided to approach the issue of housing reform from a higher level of government, and drafted a model state law. After a year of directing the promotion and campaigning of the bill, it was finally passed by the Indiana legislature in 1909. Amendments would soon weaken the bill's effectiveness in Evansville and Indianapolis, so by 1911 Fellows helped to organize the Indiana Housing Association. Within two years the association had successfully pushed through a bill of statewide application. She published a book in 1914, Beauty for Ashes, which recorded her campaign. She later played a large part in the passing of a law in 1917 which allowed for the condemning of unsafe and unsanitary dwellings. She remained active through her later years, serving as head of the executive committee of the Indiana Child Welfare Association, as well as with the state Commission on Child Welfare, where she continued to work to pass child labor and school attendance laws and establish a juvenile probation system.[5] She also continued to work for housing reform throughout her life including travelling to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress for a National Housing Standards bill.

Albion Flats in Evansville is named after her as is the Albion Fellows Bacon Center.


  • Beauty for Ashes (1914)
  • The Soldier's Book of Worship (1917)
  • Consolation: A Spiritual Experience (1922)
  • The Path to God (1928)
  • The Charm String (1929)

Biographical Works[edit]

  • Barrows, Robert G. Albion Fellows Bacon: Indiana's Municipal Housekeeper (2000)


  1. ^ Leonard, John William, ed. (1914), Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915, New York: American Commonwealth Company, p. 64. 
  2. ^ Robert G. Barrows, “’The Homes of Indiana’: Albion Fellows Bacon and Housing reform Legislation, 1907- 1917” Indiana Magazine of History 81 no. 4 (December 1985): 313.
  3. ^ Robert G Barrows, Albion Fellows Bacon: Indiana’s Municipal Housekeeper (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000), 12.
  4. ^ Robert G. Barrows, “’The Homes of Indiana’: Albion Fellows Bacon and Housing reform Legislation, 1907- 1917” Indiana Magazine of History 81 no. 4 (December 1985): 313.
  5. ^ McHenry, Robert (Sep 1983). Famous American Women: A Biographical Dictionary from Colonial Times to the Present. Courier Dover Publications. p. 15. ISBN 0-486-24523-3. 

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