News Archive 2009-2018

National Letter Writing Month: Neal Allen Jr. ’40 Shares College Perspective Amid World War II Archives


In 1945, while serving in the army during World War II, Neal Allen Jr. ’40, uncle of former U.S. Rep. Tom Allen ’67, wrote to President Kenneth C. M. Sills, who corresponded with many Bowdoin students and alumni serving in the military, reflecting on his Bowdoin education.

An excerpt:

“Like many other college men, the experience of the war and life in the armed forces have seemed to underscore the value of the things we mean when we speak of a liberal education. Certainly there is much room for improvement in our educational system ““ but I’m sure that it can come only with the strengthening and revitalizing of the liberal arts, and not in their abolition.” Read the entire letter.

The letter is shared here, with thanks to the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, amid this third week of National Letter Writing Month.



3 thoughts on “National Letter Writing Month: Neal Allen Jr. ’40 Shares College Perspective Amid World War II

  1. Whitney Barnard

    Thanks for sharing the letter from Neal Allen ’40 to President Sills. I agree wholeheartedly with his sentiments about education. Would that the letter had been copied intact – a poignant reminder of how penmanship has gone into steep decline in a single generation, taking with it part of the unique personality of our communications.

  2. Peter H. Dragonas, "59

    Mr. Barnard’s second sentence brings into vivid focus the power of evolution when it comes to the written script. One semester of “Creative Writing” with Prof. Roy Greason continues to show the imnportance of writing as I contemplate the options of form. I personally believe that there is no “Neurolingistic” benefit greater than your own handwritten script. The permanent energy derived and transferred through the medium of the written word will hopefully “Withstand the Test of Time”. “Creative Writing” continues to have a prominent place in the Liberal Arts Curriculum.

  3. James Allen '99

    My grandfather was a very special person and seeing this today was quite a surprise. What’s also interesting is that it sounded as though the value of a liberal arts education was under debate at the time (same is true today).

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