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George and Sewell Allen papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0081

Scope and Content

The collection (1910-1972) contains legal documents, correspondence, maps and printed matter. Much of the collection deals with farm foreclosures during the Great Depression and complicated legal matters arising from drainage problems in Woodbury, Harrison, and Monona Counties in Iowa.

As background to the drainage cases, it should be noted that the problems of flooding and drainage in the Little Sioux River Valley go back many years. The Monona-Harrison Drainage Ditch was built in 1906-1909. In the 1910s the Monona-Harrison Drainage District was formed. Some time afterwards, an "equalizer" (a connecting ditch) was built between the Drainage Ditch and the Little Sioux River. This "equalizer" was blamed for shifting the water at the time of heavy rains from the Little Sioux to the Drainage Ditch. The Gaynor Plan (1953) was proposed to correct the problem of periodic flooding. In the same year the Monona-Harrison Flood Control Association, organized by R. W. Fischer, was formed to oppose this plan and to support Plan "O" of the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control. In 1955, the Gaynor Plan was defeated and the "O" Plan was begun by the Corps and finished in 1958. As a means of helping the Corps with Plan "O" the Little Sioux Intercounty Drainage District (Little Sioux I.D.D.) was formed in 1955. John Beardsley, Sewell Allen, and Michael Murray were retained as attorneys for the Little Sioux I.D.D.

For related collections see the Little Sioux Watershed Records (MS 106) and the John D. Beardsley Papers (MS 79).


  • 1910-1972

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives.


George E. Allen (1886-1944) and his son Sewell E. Allen (1913-1975) were both lawyers. They practiced law in Onawa, Monona County, Iowa, and worked in partnership from 1939 to 1944.


4.5 Linear Feet (7 document boxes, 1 oversized box, and 1 map case folder)


This collection is organized into seven series:

Series 1, Foreclosures, 1935-1940

Series 2, Iowa State Highway Commission, 1965-1968

Series 3, Drainage Suits, 1915-1962

Series 4, Drainage Districts, 1910-1963

Series 5, Related Drainage Materials, 1926-1971

Series 6, Iowa Legislative Research Bureau, 1943-1972

Items in related collections

MS-0106. Little Sioux Watershed records, 1943-1992, undated MS-0079. John D. Beardsley papers, 1941-1969

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0081. George and Sewell Allen papers, 1910-1972
December 12, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672