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Spencer family papers, 1878-1985

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Finding aid prepared by Archives staff


Spencer family papers




University of Kentucky Special Collections


Collection is arranged by format.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], Spencer family papers, 1878-1986, 87M16, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.


0.4 Cubic feet

1 box


The Spencer family papers contain diplomas, certificates, printed materials and photographs of the family and descendants of Kentuckian Benjamin F. Spencer.


Spencer family patriarch, Benjamin F. Spencer (born in 1854) was born a slave in Kentucky. He was taught to read along with his master's son. After emancipation, Spencer became what is believed to be the first African American to be granted a teaching certificate in what had been a slave state. After teaching for six years, Spencer left that profession and opened a boot shop in Frankfort, Kentucky. This enterprise was maintained by Spencer family descendants into the 20th century. The Spencer family has continued the tradition of academic pursuits established by Benjamin Spencer.

Scope and Content

The Spencer family papers contain diplomas, certificates, printed materials and photographs of the family and descendants of Kentuckian Benjamin F. Spencer. The original certificate, signed and dated in Scott County, Kentucky in 1878 is among the Spencer family papers. There is one original albumen print photograph (circa 1880) and several other family photographs of Benjamin F. Spencer, the family boot shop, and his descendants. A clipping from the DETROIT FREE PRESS (1963) provides a history of the family.


  • Spencer family.
  • Shoe stores
  • Frankfort (Ky.)
  • Scott County (Ky.)--History.
  • Spencer, Benjamin F., 1854-?
  • African American business enterprises
  • African Americans--Education.
  • African Americans--Kentucky--History
  • Educators.

User Restrictions

Copyright has not been assigned to the University of Kentucky.

Collection Inventory

I. Photographs, 1900s-1980s
Ben F. Spencer Jr., in the shoe shop, seated on the stool. Original and reproduction
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 1 and 9] browse
Sue Spencer's grandmother, Mammie. Reproduction
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 2] browse
Benjamin F. Spencer III in the shoe shop, on the left. Reproduction
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 3 and 10] browse
Group portrait of seven African American women and one Caucasian man, unidentified. Reproduction
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 4] browse
Four men working in the shoe shop
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 5] browse
Portrait of Julia Spencer
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 11] browse
Portrait of Benjamin F. Spencer and his wife, Sue
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 12] browse
Portrait of John Carol Spencer
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 13]
Portrait of John Murphy Spencer
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 14]
Portrait of Anna Mary Wolfe
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 15]
Portrait of Robert Keith Stone
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 16]
Portrait of Michael Spencer
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 17]
Portrait of Debora Allen Million
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 18]
Portrait of William H. Stone
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 19]
II. Papers, 1878-1985
Teacher's Certificate for Ben F. Spencer, Scott County. Colored Common School. Original and reproductions, 1878 March 16
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 6-7] browse
Teacher's Grade Certificate for Julia M. Spencer, Frankfort Colored Public School, Franklin County, Kentucky, 1902 July
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 8] browse
Certificates (photocopies)
[Box: 1, Folder: 3, Item: 20-30]
Transcript of an oral history interview with John C. Spencer of Detroit, Michigan. Spencer Family History
[Box: 1, Folder: 4, Item: 31]

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