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Mildred Allen was born in Massachusetts in 1894, the elder of two daughters of an MIT professor of civil engineering who had met her mother while working in New Mexico. She graduated from Vassar College in 1916 with training in mathematics and physics. Her Ph.D. in physics (1922) was granted by Clark University where she studied with A. G. Webster, but her thesis research was one at MIT. She taught at Mt. Holyoke, Wellesley and Oberlin Colleges during the 1920s and early 30s, as well as studying further at the University of Chicago and Yale.
Earliest associations with science; high school, through 1904, undergraduate at Harvard University under Wallace C. Sabine, Benjamin O. Pierce, George W. Pierce, William E. Byerly, William Osgood, Julian Coolidge, Theodore Lyman, 1910; graduate education, early teaching experiences and research in x-ray spectroscopy with Edward V. Huntington, William Duane, Franklin Hunt; University of Michigan, summer 1917; lieutenant in Science and Research Division of U.S. Army Signal Corps under Robert A. Millikan; aircraft stability studies, experiences as a pilot, Civil Pilot Training Program, 1939.