A native of New Orleans, Spencer was a second generation archivist. Spencer’s mother, who worked in the field for 42 years, hoped her only daughter would choose a college close to home, but Spelman beckoned to the younger woman, Emanuella Julien Spencer said of her daughter.
“She loved Spelman College,” Spencer said. “Hearing from some of the young women since Taronda died, it is just so nice to know my baby touched so many lives.”
The senior Spencer said she heard stories of her daughter’s efforts to remind young women why they were in college. The younger Spencer also took time to motivate new, and not-so-new, Spelmanites to do their best work in college and in life.
In 1985 Spencer earned a master’s degree in history and archives administration from the University of New Orleans. She then worked as a processing archivist with The Historic New Orleans Collection, which is dedicated to the study and preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. She left that post in 1991 and worked as an archivist at Wayne State University, and then the Cooperative HBCU Archival Survey Project, before taking her current position in Atlanta.
In addition to Spencer’s mother, she is survived by three brothers, Rodney A. Spencer of Los Angeles, Calif., Royzell D. Spencer of Universal City, Texas, and Russell J. Spencer of Tampa, Fla.