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, lecturer, 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]


Mary Augusta Wood was born in Delta, Ohio, the daughter of George Wood and Sarah (Seely) Wood.[2] She attended Ohio Wesleyan Female College, graduating in 1862.[3]

After teaching for a time at the Battleground Collegiate Institute in Battle Ground, Indiana, she married Chillon Brown Allen, a lawyer, and took the surname Wood-Allen.[3]

After three years studying in Vienna, Austria,[4] Wood-Allen earned a medical degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1875.[2] She went into practice in Newark, New Jersey.[3] In 1883 she was appointed "Lecturer of Heredity and Hygiene" for the National Women's Christian Temperance Union at the suggestion of Frances Willard and lectured widely on these subjects.[2][3] In 1892 she became superintendent of the WCTU's Purity Department, and in 1897 she became Superintendent of Purity for the World WCTU.[3][4]

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. She also published a number of books.[5] Her poem entitled "Motherhood" was well known in its day.[6]


Wood-Allen and Chillon Brown Allen married on April 15, 1863, and had separated by 1880. Wood-Allen's children were Mario Chillon Wood-Allen (1870-1936) and Rose Wood-Allen Chapman (1875-1923). Rose wrote 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.[5]

Wood-Allen died in Washington, D.C. in 1908.


  • "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)
  • "Making the Best of Our Children" (2 vols, 1909)


  1. ^ Morantz-Sanchez, Regina Markell. Sympathy & Science: Women Physicians in American Medicine. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000, p. 218.
  2. ^ a b c Willard, Frances, and Mary Livermore, eds. A Woman of the Century. New York: Moulton, 1893, pp. 20-21.
  3. ^ a b c d e Willard, Frances, and Mary Livermore, eds. American Women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies. New York: Mast, Crowell, & Kirkpatrick, revised 1897, pp. 20-21.
  4. ^ a b Frye, Maude J. "In Memoriam". The Woman's Medical Journal 18:4 (April 1908), p. 89.
  5. ^ a b The Character Builder, November 1902, pp. 211-12.
  6. ^ Herringshaw, Thomas William. Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Nineteenth Century, p. 36

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