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Benjamin C. Allin Papers

Identifier: MSS 0302

Scope and Contents

This collection includes materials related to Benjamin C. Allin's military service, as well as his career managing ports. There is information related both to Camp Logan, and to the Port of Houston. A significant portion of the collection consists of photographs, which cover both phases of his career in Houston. Also included are numerous invitations and programs for special events such as a Port Dinner at the Rice Hotel and the visit of the U.S.S Houston in 1930. There are also two scrapbooks celebrating Allin's career at the Port. In addition, the collection includes publications relevant to Allin's work, and a copy of Allin's own book, Reaching for the Sea.


  • 1919-1955


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from MSS 0302 Benjamin C. Allin Papers must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Biographical Note

Benjamin Allin was born in Chicago in 1886. There he received a B.A. in engineering from the University of Chicago. After graduation, he held positions with the Illinois Central Railroad, the Illinois Steel Company, and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, as well as with the Bureau of Insular Affairs in the Philippines.

Allin came to the temporary Army training facility at Camp Logan, Houston, in 1917 as Captain of the 108th Engineering Division, Company B, from Chicago. The camp was closed after the end of World War I, and the land became part of the 1,500-acre Memorial Park.

After World War I, Allin stayed in Houston as the first general manager of the Port of Houston. He served until 1931, overseeing the formative years of Houston's development as a deepwater port. In 1931 Allin left Houston to serve in a similar capacity at the Port of Sockton in California from 1931 to 1942.

Allin's military career did not end with World War I. He became a Lieutenant Colonel with the Corps of Engineers in the 36th Division, Texas National Guard. During World War II, he served as a Colonel with the U.S. Army Reserve in the Transportation Corps at the Pentagon, Boston, and New Orleans, as well as Chief of Transportation in Trinidad.

Allin spent the last years of his career as an engineering consultant. He authored numerous articles on navigation development, and wrote a book entitled Reaching for the Sea, about his experiences as port director.

Allin died in 1960 in Berkeley, California.He was posthumously inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor in 2012.


4 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection has been divided into four series: Personal, Camp Logan and Military Service, Port of Houston and Port Career, and Photographs

Photo Database

HMRC's Photographic Archives Database ( contains an inventory of photographs in this collection.

Digitized Materials

The photographs from this collection have been digitized and are available on the Houston Public Library Digital Archives at

Processing Information

Processed by: Suzanne Summers in April, 1990. Revised by Nicholas Phillips, April 2019: Series-level arrangment imposed.

Suzanne Summers, Nicholas Phillips
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Original finding aid by Suzanne Summers in April, 1990. Revised finding aid by Nicholas Phillips, April 2019

Revision Statements

  • April 2019: Revised finding aid by Nicholas Phillips. Series-level arrangement and description imposed on existing inventory. Folders re-ordered.

Repository Details

Part of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center Repository


The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002