Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mrs. Inez Knight Allen, 1876-1937
By Dr. Electra Fielding, Associate Professor of Spanish, Weber State University, Ogden, UT.
Member, National Women's Democratic Committee.
President, Utah Stake Relief Society.
Dean of Women at Brigham Young University.
Delegate, National Democratic Convention.
Inez Knight Allen was born on September 8, 1876 in Payson, Utah and died on June 5, 1937. She was one of the "first two single women to serve full-time missions" in the LDS Church (Connelly and Cope). She served as a missionary in Great Britain from 1898 to 1899 with one of her friends, Lucy Jane Brimhall. Their calling to serve a mission happened due to the rumors outside of Utah about Mormon women. Inez and Lucy were called as missionaries to "introduce the world a 'real live Mormon' woman" ("Real Life" Maki). Some of the perceptions of Mormon women outside of Utah stemmed due to the practice of polygamy. Mormon women were perceived as being "slaves" to the men and abused ("Real Life" Maki). As Elizabeth Maki remarks, Inez was very conscious of her role as representative of Utah Mormon women, and in her journal, it is possible to see a progression from fear when speaking in public to confidence in her abilities ("Real Life").
During her mission appointment, she traveled to Canada, England and France. In her journal she not only writes of her experiences as a proselytizing missionary, but also about her reflections and observations of the new places she visits. She is impressed with Paris's streets and architecture and recalls fond memories of everyday life in London and visits to Westminster or riding the Ferris Wheel. She also includes the not-so glamorous aspects of life abroad: "on a busy street I hurried to pass in front of a carriage and fell again as I usually do" (Knight Allen 35). Her journal also showcases her sense of humor and the fact that she doesn't take herself too seriously: "I met after the meeting Bro. Fullers Aunt, who inquired if I had been led out to Utah when a 'young lady.' I wonder what she thinks I am now?" (Knight Allen 169).
In her mission journal, Inez references in a couple of occasions discussing "women's suffrage" (Knight Allen 116), and "women's rights" (Knight Allen 151) with men, although she does not delve into specifics. Reading her words, it is obvious that she is aware of her role as an example to the world of Utah women. She is not naive, and understands its significance, especially when encountering mocking, ridicule and even violence: "[The anti-Mormon league] stated that Mormon Elders came here for no other purpose than to entice women to Utah / that they were slaves to the men / if they did not do as they told them their throats were cut" (Knight Allen 120).
After her mission in Great Britain, Inez returned to Utah. She received a university education at BYU, and she became extremely active in community, church, and academic service. She served in the National Women's Democratic Committee; she was the Utah Stake Relief Society President and served as the Dean of Women at BYU, Provo. She was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1928. She married Robert Eugene Allen in 1902 and had five sons (Jenson 177-179). One note of interest is that while Inez served in the Democratic Committee, her husband served in the Republican Committee.
Inez was active in the democratic party at a very early age, from 1895 until her death in 1937. When she attended the Democratic Party convention in 1924 as one of Utah's delegates, TheNew York Times added a note about her attendance and the fact that her political views did not agree with her husband's, who two weeks prior had attended the Republican Convention as a Utah delegate (The New York Times, June 25 1924. 28).
Inez died in Provo, Utah unexpectedly of gastritis. She was 61 years old and her funeral was heavily attended, including several of the LDS General Authorities.
Allen, Inez Knight. "Allen, Inez Knight, vol. 1." L. Tom Perry Special Collections, https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/MMD/id/56695/rec/1.
"Amanda Inez Knight." Early Mormon Missionaries, https://history.lds.org/missionary/individual/amanda-inez-knight-1876?lang=eng.
Connelly, Amy and Rachel Cope. "A biography of Inez Knight Allen: The First Single Proselytizing Sister Missionary for the LDS Church." BYU Journal of Undergraduate Research, 24 April 2014, http://jur.byu.edu/?p=15686.
Jenson, Andrew. LDS Biographical Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Deseret News Press: Salt Lake City, 1936.
Maki, Elizabeth. "Real Live Mormon Women." Women of Conviction, 2 July 2012, https://history.lds.org/article/inez-knight-ambassador?lang=eng.
"Taking Fresh Courage." Women of Conviction, 4 May 2012, https://history.lds.org/article/inez-knight-opposition?lang=eng.
The New York Times, June 25 1924. 28.