Mary Wood-Allen

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Mary Wood Allen, circa 1890s

Mary Augusta Wood-Allen (October 19, 1841 – January 21, 1908) was a doctor, social reformer, and writer of books on health and self-improvement for women and children. Through her lectures and writings she was a voice for the social purity movement.[1]


Wood was born in Delta, Ohio . She attended Ohio Wesleyan Female College, graduating in 1862. After teaching for a time at the Battleground Collegiate Institute in Battle Ground, Indiana, she married Dr. Chilion Brown Allen on April 15, 1863. After three years studying in Europe she earned a medical degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1875. She went into practice in Newark, New Jersey.[2] In 1883 she was appointed "Lecturer of Heredity and Hygeine" for the National Women's Christian Temperance Union at the suggestion of Frances Willard; in 1892 she became Superintendent of the Purity Department, and in 1897 she became Superintendent of Purity for the World WCTU.

In 1895 Wood-Allen started a series of monthly leaflets titled "Mother's Friend"; this was expanded into the monthly magazine "The American Mother", later "American Motherhood", which continued publication until 1919. Wood-Allen published the magazine herself with the assistance of her son and daughter.[3] She also published a number of books: "Teaching Truth" (1892), "The Man Wonderful: The Marvels of Our Bodily Dwelling" (1895), "What a Young Woman Ought to Know" (1899), "Marriage: Its Duties and Privileges" (1901), "Child-confidence Rewarded" (1903), "What a Young Girl Ought to Know" (1905), "Almost a Man" (1907), "Almost a Woman" (1907), and "Making the Best of Our Children" (2 volumes, 1909).


Wood-Allen and her husband had separated by 1880. Wood-Allen's children were Mario Chilion Wood-Allen (1870-1936) and Rose Wood-Allen Chapman (1875-1923). Rose continued to write articles and books of advice on child-rearing and in 1907 took her mother's place as the National Superintendent of Purity for the WCTU.

She died in District of Columbia in 1908.


  1. ^ Sympathy & Science: Women Physicians in American Medicine, Regina Markell Morantz-Sanchez, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000, p. 218
  2. ^ American Women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies, ed. Frances Willard and Mary Livermore, New York: Mast, Crowell, & Kirkpatrick, revised 1897, p. 20-1
  3. ^ The Character Builder, November 1902, p. 211-2

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