Peace activist and pioneering psychologist Doris Twitchell Allen planted the seeds of a worldwide peace organization in Glendale Ohio. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was later nominated for the United States Freedom Medal, the Hague Appeal for Peace Prize, and the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education.

Doris Twitchell Allen was born in 1901 in Old Town Maine. She earned two degrees from the University of Maine and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan in 1930. She first worked as the director of the Field Laboratory at the Child Education Foundation of New York City where she met Glendale Ohio native Erastus “Rusty” Allen whom she married in 1935. They settled in Glendale, first on Magnolia Avenue and then at 30 Fountain Avenue.

Doris Allen was the first director of Psychological Services at both Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Cincinnati Convalescent Home. From 1944-1957 she served as Head of Psychology at Cincinnati’s Longview Hospital. Dr. Allen taught at the University of Cincinnati from 1949 to 1972, and the University of Maine at Orono from 1962 to 1972. As Allen saw adults fall victim to hateful stereotyping, scapegoating, and fear, she imagined a program that would bring children from across the globe together to learn, find common ground, and lay the foundation for a peaceful future before they learned to hate.

Dr. Allen began planning Children’s International Summer Villages (CISV) in 1946, just after World War II. She attended UNESCO conferences to promote the idea, but when UNESCO funding proved elusive, she funded the organization through private and corporate donations. CISV and held its first village in Glendale in 1951. CISV’s “villages” are month-long summer camps which host delegations of eleven-year-olds. The first village hosted fifty-five delegates from Austria, England, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden. Dr. Margaret Meade reportedly called the decision to select eleven-year-olds as delegates “a stroke of genius.”

The first village was held at St. Edmund’s Camp on Chester Road in Glendale. A plaque was placed on the chapel there commemorating the event, but the chapel with the plaque was moved to Sharon Road in 1994. The actual site of the village has been redeveloped as a street of single-family homes called St. Edmund’s Place.

Allen’s vision for CISV was so inspiring that chapters formed quickly across the globe. In 1964, Walter Cronkite helped spread the word about CISV in a 30-minute documentary called “Too Young To Hate” about the first CISV Village to be hosted by the new Gulf Coast Mississippi chapter. CISV was an opportunity to build a better world.

oday CISV has over 200 chapters in 69 countries and has sponsored more than 7000 peace-based exchange experiences for over 300,000 participants since 1951.

The second organization Dr. Allen founded, in 1971, is International School-to-School Experience (ISSE). Like CISV, ISSE focuses on providing international exchange experiences for children in their elementary years. It matches elementary schools for exchanges of three weeks in one country and then three weeks in the other.

In 1953 Dr. Allen was named Woman of the Year by the Cincinnati Enquirer. In 1956 she served as a member of the White House 100. In 1961 she was awarded the Les Palmes Academique by the French government. In 1971 she received a gold medal from the city of Stockholm Sweden and the Government of Guatemala awarded her the Orden del Quetzal in 1976. In 1979 Dr. Allen was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was later nominated for the United States’ Freedom Medal, the Hague Appeal for Peace Prize, and the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education. A student housing complex at the University of Maine is called the Doris Twitchell Allen Village (DTAV) in her honor. Dr. Doris Twitchell Allen died in 2002 at the age of 100.

Any of the thousands who have participated in CISV will remember the first verse of the CISV song which simply describes Dr. Allen’s vision for a better world.

Here in this village you may see
Children living happily
Different race and different land
Here we come to understand
One another's point of view
Learning through the things we do
How alike am I to you


Location

30 Fountain Avenue, Glendale Ohio

Metadata

Anne Delano Steinert
, “Doris Twitchell Allen Knew Children Can Lead Us to Peace,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed June 15, 2024, https://stories.cincinnatipreservation.org/items/show/217.