Contents and Arrangement

Anne Rayner Allen's Diary, 1890

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


This collection, which documents two generations of British aristocrats in colonial Burma, consists of two diaries, dating from 1889 to 1890, and two scrapbooks, dating from 1781 to 1935. The scrapbooks, alone, tell the story of the Irish Allen family who occupied Dhuarigle Castle in County Cork, Ireland and held the title of Baron. In the late 1880s, William Henry Allen, a ship captain, left Ireland and moved to Burma with his new wife Annie Rayner Allen. At the start or their voyage on the S.S. Kathleen, Annie Allen's story is the central focus of the scrapbooks and from 1889 to 1890, the diaries and the scrapbook, used together, provide a detailed and intimate view of the challenges of sea travel, the uncertainties of living in a very foreign country, and her joy at becoming a mother. During the years of 1889 to 1912, the scrapbooks document the Allen family's life in Burma and their interest in Burmese culture, but also show the determined effort to remain close to family who remained in the British Isles. The life of Captain and Mrs. Allen's daughter, Barbara, is documented through photographs, letters, and sketches. Although the family spent more than twenty years in Burma, their collection and display of ephemera show clearly how they stayed close to their British heritage by taking pride in the monarchy and celebrating traditional events, memorials, and practices.

Around 1912, the focus of the scrapbooks seems to shift to Barbara Allen and her circle of friends, and in particular, her husband, Major George Cecil Brooke. The scrapbooks include material about their wedding, their trip to Buckingham Palace shortly after their marriage, and the birth of their son, John Henry Allen Brooke. Very little about the deaths of Captain Allen and Major Brooke, both of which took place early in 1915, is included in these scrapbooks, but there are a considerable number of newspaper clippings about the extended family and friends of the Allens, Rayners, and Brookes. It is unclear who actually created the scrapbooks, although, it appears that it may have been constructed by Barbara Allen's descendants, since her own son and grandchildren are included.

In total, the collection is extensive; within the scrapbooks are nearly six hundred items, including photographs, newspapers clippings, letters, and ephemera. The photographs date from both the 19th and 20th centuries, and many of the 19th century photographs were made by Watts and Sleens of Rangoon. As a group, this collection gives a great insight into colonial life in Burma immediately following Burma's incorporation into the British Empire.

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

No material was separated during 2013 processing.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Anne Rayner Allen's Diary; Allen Family Burma Collection, C1441, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1