Helen Louise Allen (1902-1968) joined the School of Human Ecology’s Related Art program in 1927, teaching weaving, embroidery, and the history of textiles and interiors for over 40 years.
Born with a strong creative spirit, Helen devoted herself to the research and study of textiles from around the globe. She was among the first in her field to take an ethnographic approach to the study of textiles, traveling the world researching diverse techniques and meeting artisans to understand the cultural and historic significance of textiles. She published widely on the subject and acquired a vast textile collection, which she later bequeathed to the school. This gift, along with her papers and artwork, became the basis for the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.
An innovative weaver in her own right, Helen co-founded the Madison Weavers Guild and the Embroiderers Guild with her friend and colleague, Ruth Ketterer Harris. Professor Allen was an inspiration to many. She made an indelible impression on her students who developed their own interests in the textile arts and who made gifts to the HLATC Adopt-a-Textile Endowment Fund in her honor.