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Allen, Jerome Lee, 1891-1955



  • Existence: 1891 - 1955



Jerome Lee Allen (born April 17, 1891, Atlanta, Georgia—died May 21, 1955, San Diego, California) was the electrician and wireless operator on the AMNH-sponsored Crocker Land Expedition (1). In Etah, Greenland, Allen installs the electrical system of Borup Lodge, the expedition headquarters, as well as the installation of a wireless system enabling communication (2, p. 5). Once the group returned from the expedition, Allen resumed his military service. In 1947 he retired to San Diego (1).

Attends the Navy Electrical School, graduates Electrician Second Class.
Serves on the USS Patuxent, the USS New Hampshire, the USS Alabama
Works for the Naval Radio Station, Radio Laboratory and the Bureau of Standards.
Promoted to Chief Electrician.
Joins the Crocker Land Expedition as electrician and wireless operator. Other expedition members include Donald B. MacMillan (leader), Walter Ekblaw, naval ensign Fitzhugh Green, Maurice Tanquary, Johnathan Small, and Harrison Hunt. The mission of the expedition was to locate and study an island in the northern Arctic Sea named Crocker Land. Which had first been seen by Arctic explorer, Naval Commander Robert E. Peary, in 1908.
Expedition leaves New York for northern Greenland.
Arrives in Etah, Greenland after having to switch ships after a shipwreck.
Builds Borup Lodge, thebase camp for the expedition party and where Allen sets up radio operations and maintains generators to provide electricity throughout the expedition.
After MacMillan and Green return from the final leg of the journey to reach Crocker Land, the team realizes that the island does not exist.
Team waits throughout the summer for return ship, but ship becomes trapped in Arctic ice with AMNH employee, Edmund Hovey, who ends up having to join the stranded expedition.
Expedition party waits another summer for rescue ship, but nothing arrives.
Allen, along with team members Hovey, Tanquary and Green head south in a 1,200-mile dog sled journey to southern Greenland in order to catch a ship back to the US. Hovey must turn around due to ill health, but the other three catch a ship to Copenhagen, Denmark, then eventually New York.
Once back in the US Allen is appointed to the role of Radio Gunner, then Ensign with the US Navy, within the same year.
Runs the Radio Research team at the Bureau of Standards for the Radio Section of the Bureau of Steam Engineering.
1918-02 to 1919-01
Allen oversaw radio services for US Naval forces in European waters.
Allen is given the temporary rank of Lieutenant throughout his active duty in WWI.
Joins the mission to Ukraine from the American Commission for peace negotiations and acts as Communication Officer for the Peace Conference in Paris, France.
Promoted to European Communications Officer.
Serves the Bureau of Engineering in charge of the Radio Division, Design Section and Radiotelegraphy.
Radio officer of the USS California.
Attends naval graduate school in Annapolis, Maryland and Harvard University to study radio engineering.
Green is promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
Acts as radio officer for the USS New Mexico.
Becomes Assistant Disburse Communications Officer of the Eleventh Naval District.
Serves as Radio Officer on the Staff of the Commander for the USS Texas, USS West Virginia, USS Maryland, and USS Pennsylvania.
Commands the USS McFarland and acted as aide to Admiral Thomas J. Senn.
Captain of the Yard at the Naval Station in Olongapoo, Philippine Islands.
Promoted to the rank of Commander.
Commands the USS Black Hawk, the USS Sacramento, the destroyer USS Glimmer as well as acting as Communications Officer and Assistant to the Commander at the Naval Operating Base, Kodiak, Alaska.
Serves as Communications Officer on the Staff of the Commander for the Eastern Sea Frontier.
Achieves rank of Captain.
Becomes Senior Communications Instructor at the Army-Navy Staff College.
Serves in several positions throughout WWII including Commander of a transport division, Communications Officer of a Naval Operating Base, and Chief of Staff for the commander of the same base.
Retires from the Navy.
Jerome Lee Allen dies at the age of 64.

Biographical Note

Jerome Lee Allen received his initial training at the Navy Electrical School in New York City and graduated with the title, Electrician Second Class. He would serve on several ships, as well as at the Naval Radio Station, Radio Laboratory and the Bureau of Standards. In 1912 he was promoted to Chief Electrician, a rank he would hold throughout Crocker Land. The Navy detailed him to join the Crocker Land Expedition in June 1913, with the team leaving less than a month later (1). While in Greenland, Allen’s chief responsibilities were to maintain the generators and batteries that provided the expedition team with electricity in Etah, as well as install and operate a wireless system to send and receive messages to AMNH leadership in New York. He also led the building of Borup Lodge (2, p. 109-112). Allen tried to establish contact with New York and other locations south of Etah, but the equipment that was purchased for the expedition wasn’t strong enough to reach shores outside of Greenland (3). Allen continually traveled with MacMillan and the rest of the expedition group whileserving as an unofficial photographer throughout the expedition. The team, which ended up providing AMNH with over 3,500 negatives of the Arctic (as well as extensive mammal and bird specimens) was praised for their contribution to the museum’s collection (4, p. 58, 82). However, in late summer of 1916, after two failed rescue attempts, Allen, along with fellow expedition members Maurice Tanquary, Fitzhugh Green and Edmund Hovey decided to dog sled over 1,000 miles to southern Greenland to catch a ship back to the US (3). Green, Tanquary and Allen returned to New York in Fall 2016, and Allen immediately returned to work for the Navy (1). Donald MacMillan named a glacier along Baird Inlet after Allen (2, p. 291). Post-Crocker Land, Allen continued his service in the Navy until his retirement in 1947. He served in both WWI and WWII and moved up the ranks of naval service throughout his career. He worked as a Communications Officer in Europe from 1918-1920, served on several battleships and destroyers including the USS California, USS Blackhawk, and the USS Glimmer. He also was a Naval Commander from 1938-1943. During WWII Allen was promoted to Captain and acted as a Senior Communications Officer, Communications Instructor and Chief of Staff for a Naval Base in Okinawa, Japan (1).


(1) Modern Biographical Files in the Navy Department Library. "Jerome Lee Allen," accessed March 23, 2017,

(2) MacMillan, Donald B. 1925. Four Years in the White North. Boston and New York, The Medici Society of America.

(3) Freed, Stanley A. "Fate of the Crocker Land Expedition," Natural History Magazine, accessed March 22, 2018 from

(4) American Museum of Natural History. "Annual Report, 1917," accessed March 22, 2017,


  • Georgia (Place of Birth) -- Date: 1891 - 1908
  • New York (N.Y.) (Other) -- Date: 1908 - 1913
    • Note: Expedition site
  • United States (Other) -- Date: 1910 - 1912 -- Date: 1917     -- Date: 1926 - 1929 -- Date: 1942 - 1944 -- Date: 1947 - 1955
    • Note: Naval site
  • Greenland (Associated Country) -- Date: 1913 - 1916
    • Note: Expedition site
  • Etah (Other) -- Date: 1913 - 1916
    • Note: Expedition site
  • London (Other) -- Date: 1918 - 1919
    • Note: Naval site
  • Europe (Associated Country) -- Date: 1918 - 1919
    • Note: Naval site
  • Maryland (Other) -- Date: 1924 - 1926
    • Note: Educational site
  • San Diego (Other) -- Date: 1929 - 1931 -- Date: 1947 - 1955
    • Note: Naval site
  • Alaska (Other) -- Date: 1938 - 1939
    • Note: Naval site
  • Okinawa (Other) -- Date: 1944 - 1947
    • Note: Naval site


Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Crocker Land Expedition field photographs

Identifier: PPC .C76
Scope and Content Note This collection is a small subset of copies of prints from the larger Photographic Collection no. 14 – Crocker Land Expedition field photographs. The photographs in this collection are individually sleeved and arranged in four series. Folder 1 consists of 4 photographs that were taken prior to departure for the Arctic and include images of the S.S. “Diana” in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and group portraits of the expedition team.Folder 2 is divided into two sets. The...
Dates: circa 1913-1917

Crocker Land Expedition papers, 1907-1922.

Identifier: Mss .C76
Dates: Majority of material found within 1907 - 1922

Edmund Otis Hovey records

Identifier: Mss .H683
Scope and Content Note The Edmund Otis Hovey Records collection consists of approximately 50 field notebooks and journals from his and Mrs. Ettie Hovey’s travels around the Caribbean, North America, Europe and the Arctic; as well as, manuscripts of his papers and lectures notes. The collection also includes photographs, postcards, ephemera and newspaper clippings regarding the Crocker Land Expedition that took place from 1913-1917. The collection spans a period of approximately 20 years, beginning in 1890 and...
Dates: 1890-1919