The Sarah Campbell Allan, M.D., Papers, 1895-1954, include a letter from John Gary Evans, Governor of South Carolina, offering her a position at the South Carolina State Lunatic Asylum; a copy of her will and other estate papers; her 1900 diary, kept while working at the South Carolina State Hospital and a typescript of the diary prepared by her nephew, Dr. W. C. Worthington; handwritten notes by her sister Amey Nicholson Allan regarding turning down a position at Converse College; a small notebook with medical notes; and photographs of herself and family members. The collection also includes a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and other ephemera compiled by Dr. Allan and her medical school diploma.
Sarah Campbell Allan was born in Charleston, S.C. on 7 December 1861 to James and Amey Sarah (Hobcraft) Allan, both immigrants to Charleston. James Allan, a native of Wick, Scotland, had arrived as a young boy with his parents in 1837. His father, Alexander, was a cabinetmaker by trade and James’s mother, Isabella, was the daughter of a Scottish schoolmaster from Thurso in Caithness. James grew to manhood in Charleston, eventually becoming a well-known jeweler and silversmith. Amey Sarah Hobcraft, born near the ancient walls of the City of London, arrived in Charleston as a young lady to visit an aunt. After a short courtship, James and Amey were married in Charleston 13 August 1856, and they had at least 11 children. Sarah Campbell Allan was their third child. Her two older siblings died young, leaving Sarah as her parents' eldest child.
After being denied entry to the Medical College of the State of South Carolina because of her gender, she attended the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary, an institution founded by Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and her sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell in 1868. The school closed in 1899 after Cornell University pledged to accept women medical students. Dr. Allan also completed a post-graduate year of study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School in 1895.
In October 1894, Dr. Allan took the newly instituted examinations for medical licensing in South Carolina. In her group of candidates, she was the only female present and she handily outperformed her male counterparts. She was issued license number 40, the first woman licensed to practice medicine in South Carolina.
In 1895, Governor John Gary Evans appointed Dr. Allan as Assistant Physician at the South Carolina State Lunatic Asylum under James W. Babcock. She remained in Columbia until 1907, when she resigned to return to Charleston and care for her ailing father. Although she never formally practiced medicine again, she consulted with Charleston physicians on psychiatric cases during her retirement. Dr. Allan never married and she died in Charleston on 25 February 1954.