Monday, June 16, 2008

The papers of Annie Bethel Spencer go to the University of Virginia

Small Special Collections Library

The UVa Library's latest building, showing the Harrison Institute and skylights over the below-ground Small Special Collections Library. Alderman Library is on the right.
The papers of Annie Bethel Spencer (Lynchburg, Virginia) better known as Anne Spencer (1882-1975) one of the most important voices of the Harlem Renaissance literary period go to the University of Virginia's Small Special Collections Library. Anne Spencer acquisition
Ms. Spencer was an Black American poet and participant of the New Negro Movement.

She was the first Virginian and African-American to have poetry included in the Norton Anthology of American Poetry and is remembered as an activist for equality and educational opportunities.

During her long and productive life, Anne Spencer was recognized as a lyric poet of considerable talent. Since her death, she has attained fame not only as a writer, but as a cultural leader. Given that she was both black and female, her achievement of recognition from her intellectual peers was a remarkable feat.

Anne Spencer was born in February 1882 on a plantation in Henry County, Virginia. Her
father was a former slave, and her mother was the daughter of a former slave and a wealthy Virginia aristocrat. In 1886 she and her mother moved to Bramwell, West Virginia, where she lived until entering the Virginia Seminary and Normal School in Lynchburg in 1893. At the age of 17, she graduated as valedictorian of her class. In 1901 she married Edward Alexander Spencer, and the couple moved to the house on Pierce Street in Lynchburg.

Anne Spencer's devotion to the cause of cultural enlightenment for African Americans
was expressed in her local activities as librarian and educator and in the lively rapport she maintained with many of the nation's most noted black leaders. Among the prominent visitors to the house were Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Georgia Douglas Johnston, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Anne Spencer House, Study, 1313 Pierce Street, Lynchburg, VA. Historic American Buildings Survey, Historic American Engineering Record.
The house and the small study in the garden where she worked were built largely by
Edward Spencer. Both remain virtually undisturbed, containing original decorations, furniture, books, and personal belongings in place as Anne Spencer kept them. [B 12/6/76 NHL, 76002224] Anne Spencer House 1313 Pierce Street Lynchburg Listed: 1976-12-06 in PDFformat

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