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Collection of documentaries on Anne Spencer's garden

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 16709

Content Description

This collection contains two VHS tapes titled "Anne Spencer: Echoes from the Garden" and a segment from "Garden story with Rebecca Frischkorn" titled "Anne Spencer Garden." The documentaries focus on the impact and importance of Spencer's garden to herself, her community, and other artists and writers.

Tape 1 contains Anne Spencer: Echoes from the Garden Tape 2 contains Garden Story "Anne Spencer Garden"


  • Creation: undated, c.2008


Conditions Governing Access

THis collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Anne Bethel Spencer(1882-1975) was was a Harlem Renaissance poet and activist. Spencer born an only child in Henry County, Virginia, on February 6, 1882, to Joel Cephus Bannister (1862-?) of Henry County, Virginia, and Sarah Louise Scales (1866-?) of Patrick County, Virginia. Sometime around 1883, the family moved to Martinsville, Virginia, where Joel opened a saloon. Sarah had relatives in Bramwell, West Virginia, and she moved there in either 1887 or 1888 to work in the Blue Stone Inn. Soon Anne was able to join her mother in Bramwell, where she lived with the family of the local barber, William T. Dixie and his wife, Willie Belle. In September 1893, Annie moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, at the age of eleven in order to attend Virginia Seminary for her education. She was registered there as Annie Bethel Scales in September 1893.

Anne Spencer graduated on May 8, 1899, and gave the valedictory speech during the ceremony held at Diamond Hill Baptist Church, Lynchburg. Following graduation Annie began teaching second grade in West Virginia, near Bramwell. She and Edward A. Spencer (1876-1964) were married on May 15, [1901] by the Reverend Frank Marshall in Bramwell, West Virginia, at the home of her friends, William T. and Willie Belle Dixie, and set up housekeeping in Lynchburg, Virginia. They had three children, Bethel Calloway, Alroy Sarah, and Chauncey Edward Spencer, and a fourth child who died shortly after birth with diphtheria.

Working with NAACP secretary James Weldon Johnson, she helped co-found the Lynchburg chapter of the NAACP in 1918. It was also Johnson who discovered her poetry and was instrumental in getting her first published poem, "Before the Feast of Shushan" to the public. It was published in The Crisis in February 1920. The poetry of Anne Spencer can be found in some of the period's most prestigious anthologies, including The Book of American Negro Poetry (James Weldon Johnson); Negro Poets and Their Poems (Robert T. Kelin); American Poetry Since 1900 (Louis Untermeyer); The New Negro (Alain Locke); Caroling Dusk (Countee Cullen); and The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949 (Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps). Spencer is recognized as a part of the Harlem Renaissance literary movement not only because of her published poetry but her friendships with many of the other African-American writers of the time. Spencer was also known for her gardens and in the cottage, Edankraal, which her husband Edward built for her in the garden behind their home. The name Edankraal combines Edward and Anne and kraal, the Afrikaans word for enclosure or corral.The gardens served as an inspiration and refuge for her writing and to many other writers and artists of the era wo visited her home.

Anne Spencer became the librarian at the Dunbar High School in Lynchburg and worked there from about 1924 until 1946. She lived most of her adult life in Lynchburg, Virginia, chiefly at 1313 Pierce Street, where she hosted many literary and civil rights figures in her home during their visits to her area.


2 Cassettes (2 VHS tapes)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Original digital media (floppy disks, zip disks, thumb drives, born digital files, etc.) and other media formats such as LPs, audiocassettes, videotapes, films, CDs, and DVDs cannot be handled directly by patrons. Appointments must be made in advance to request these items held by Special Collections. In most cases, materials must be reformatted before they can be accessed, sometimes at the researcher’s expense. Please use our online reference request form ( to request access to these materials or to ask for further information or to schedule access to audio-visual materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a transfer from Sara Lee Barnes to the Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia on c. 2012.

Related Materials

For materials on Anne Spencer and her family see Papers of Anne Spencer and the Spencer Family (

Condition Description


Guide to the Documentaries of Anne Spencer's garden collection
Rose Oliveira, Accessioning Archivist
15 September 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States