Jack Allen was born in 1914 in Prestonsburg, Kentucky to Anna Mayo Allen and Edward Allen. Jack Allen attended school in Prestonsburg and graduated high school in 1931. After high school he attended Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College where he received his A.B. in 1935. After teaching high school for two years in Prestonsburg Allen left for Nashville, Tennessee to attended graduate school at George Peabody College. He graduated with a doctoral degree in 1941 and took a job at his alma mater, Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College.
Jack met Peabody coed Cherry Falls in 1940 and married her in August 1941. He entered the Navy in August of 1942 and was assigned to Dallas, Texas on a Naval Selection Board. By 1943 he had reached the rank of Ensign and was re-assigned to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In Hawaii he was placed with the Pacific Fleet Radar Center. He was released from duty in 1945 and took a job with George Peabody College in 1946 where he remained for 33 years.
Allen served on many boards and committees through the years including the National Council for the Social Studies where he was especially active in shaping the teaching of social studies to high school students. He also authored 15 textbooks and co-authored another 20 with colleagues.
He and Cherry had three sons David, Robert, and Edward. Jack Allen passed away on June 19, 2004 at the age of 89.