Adam Knight Spence and John Wesley Work collection
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Adam Knight Spence and John Wesley Work collection

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Auburn Avenue Research Library
Creator: Spence, Adam K., (Adam Knight), 1831-1900
Creator: Work, John Wesley, 1873-1925
Title: Adam Knight Spence and John Wesley Work collection
Dates: 1851-1936
Quantity: 3.0 cubic ft.
Abstract:The collection consists of papers of Adam Knight Spence and John Wesley Work from ca. 1851-1936. The papers contain materials relating to their interest in Negro folk music and involvement in the Fisk Jubilee Singers in the early twentieth century. Includes musical scores and arrangements, correspondence regarding the travels of the singers, printed materials, as well as correspondence (1906-1921) and classroom papers (1931) pertaining to John Work. The collection contains correspondence of Adam Knight Spence and other family members, including his brother Edwin A. Spence, his sister Julie Spence, his wife Elizabeth Fisk Spence, and his daughter Mary Spence. Of particular interest is extensive correspondence (1888-1891) from Henrietta Matson, principal of the Akola Girls' English School in Berar, India, to Elizabeth and Mary Spence regarding the education and social conditions in India at the time. Other materials include a variety of printed matter (1871-1936) relating to Fisk University.
Identification: aarl90-001

Biographical/Historical Note

Professor A. K. Spence was the second principal of "Fisk School" (later University) in Nashville, Tenn. from 1870 until 1875. He was born in Scotland but lived most of his life in America. Before coming to Fisk, he taught Greek and French at Michigan University in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was brought to Fisk to bring the "college idea" to the school which was founded by the American Missionary Association and the Freedmen's Bureau in 1865. He was greatly interested in music and for 11 years lead the Mozart Society at Fisk. He also served in various administrative capacities at Fisk University once a new president was appointed in 1875 until his death in 1900.

Professor John Wesley Work was a product of Fisk University, having graduated in 1895. He taught public school in Tullahoma, Tenn. after graduation and studied one year at Harvard Univ. He received a Master of Arts degree in Latin and Greek from Fisk in 1898. In 1900 he was made Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. He also was a professor of Latin from 1906 to 1923.

Professor Work's greatest contribution at Fisk was his research and writing about Negro folk music. He published collections of folk songs and served as advisor to the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

In 1923, Professor Work was called to the presidency of Roger Williams University.

Scope and Content Note

The Spence/Work Collection is approximately 3 cubic feet. It contains approximately one-half cubic foot of material relating to music and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an area in which both men were involved. Musical scores and arrangements are present. Correspondence relating to the travels of the Fisk Jubilee Singers is included. Publications included in the collection are : the Fisk Herald, 1894-1930; the Fisk University News, 1871-1925; Catalogue of Fisk University, 1899-1913; 1927-1930; and Meharry News, Jan.-March 1921. Student papers from a sociology class exist. Correspondence to and from Mrs. Elizabeth Spence and other members of the Spence family is approximately one cubic foot. Several photographs are present.


I. Printed Material, 1887-1930

II. Professor John Work, 1882-1931

III. Images, 1908

IV. Correspondence, 1851-1921

V. Other Institutions, 1903-1921

VI. Fisk University, 1871-1936

Index Terms

African American college teachers--Tennessee.
African American universities and colleges--Tennessee--Faculty.
African Americans--Music.
Akola Girls' English School (Berar, India).
Berar (India)
Chase, Julia Spence
Fisk University. -- Faculty
India--Description and travel--19th century.
India--Social conditions.
Jubilee Singers.
Matson, Henrietta
Private schools--India.
Spence, Adam K., (Adam Knight), 1831-1900
Spence, Edwin A.
Spence, Elizabeth Fisk
Spence, Mary E., (Mary Elizabeth), 1865-1962.
Women teachers--India.
Work, John Wesley, 1873-1925

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Item, series, Adam Knight Spence and John Wesley Work collection, Archives Division, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.


Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on research use of this collection.

Copyright Restrictions

Prior permission from the Research Library must be obtained in writing before any portion of this collection can be published or reproduced.

Related Material

Mary E. Spence papers, Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee; Mary E. Spence papers, Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Container List


Series I: Printed Material, 1887-1930



11 New Jubilee Songs, as sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk Univ., 1904, 2nd ed. Collected and Harmonized by Frederick J. Work, 1904 View online.
2 Folk Songs of the American Negro, edited by Frederick J. Work, 1907 View online.
3 The American Missionary periodical, Feb. 1896 Dec. 1907 Dec. 1923 View online.
4Race Relations - Lectures at Fisk University, 1918 View online.
5 Fisk Herald - journal published by the Literary Societies of Fisk, Aug. 1887 View online.
6 Fisk Herald, June 1894 May June 1895 View online.
7 Fisk Herald, Feb. and Dec. 1930 View online.
a student publication
8A Milestone in Negro Education. Jubilee and Founder's Day Exercises Nov. 16-17, 1924, Fisk University, Nov. 16-17, 1924
9 Christmas Bells published by Geo. F. Rosche & Co View online.
10 The Greater Fisk Herald, Feb., March, June, and Christmas 1926
a student publication
11 The Greater Fisk Herald, March, April-May, Oct., Nov., Dec. 1927
12 The Greater Fisk Herald, Jan., Feb., March, June, Oct., Nov. 1928
13 The Greater Fisk Herald, April, June 1929, Oct. 1930
14Minutes of the Second Mothers' Conference held in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Sept. 8, Sept. 9, Sept. 10, 1894 View online.
15The Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and Its Work for Negro and Indian Youth, 1894 View online.

Series II: Professor John Work, 1882-1931



21Correspondence to and from Professor John Work, 1906 through 1921 View online.
2Classroom papers, 1931 View online.
3Classroom papers, 1931 View online.
4Classroom papers, 1931 View online.
5Classroom papers, 1931 View online.
6Classroom papers, 1931 View online.
7Classroom papers, 1931 View online.
8Advertisement - Fisk Jubilee Singers, 1882-1883 View online.
9The Development of the Music of the Negro View online.
10Musical compositions View online.
11Lyrics View online.

Series III: Images, 1908



212Photographs - C.A. Fisk and Clara Fisk View online.
13Photographs - Mrs. John W. Work View online.
141908 photographic calendar, 1908 View online.
15Booker T. Washington quotation on postcards View online.
16Photograph - unidentified person View online.
17Photograph - unidentified person View online.
18Photographs - unidentified persons View online.
19Photographs - unidentified persons View online.
20Photograph - unidentified persons View online.
21Photograph - unidentified persons View online.
22Photographs - unidentified persons View online.
23Photographs - unidentified persons View online.
24Photograph - unidentified persons View online.
25Photographs - unidentified persons View online.
26Photograph - unidentified persons View online.
27Photograph - unidentified persons View online.
28Postcards View online.

Series IV: Correspondence, 1851-1921



31Correspondence - Adam K. Spence, 1853-1860 View online.
2Correspondence - Adam K. Spence, 1863-1869 View online.
3Correspondence - Adam K. Spence, 1888-1892 View online.
4Correspondence - Adam K. Spence, no date View online.
5Correspondence - Mrs. Elizabeth Spence, 1851-1868 View online.
6Correspondence - Mrs. Elizabeth Spence, 1888-1889 View online.
7Correspondence - Mrs. Elizabeth Spence, 1890-1891 View online.
8Correspondence - Mrs. Elizabeth Spence, no date View online.
9Correspondence - Mrs. Elizabeth Spence, no date View online.
10Correspondence - Mary Spence, 1888-1917 View online.



41Correspondence - Mrs. L.R. Fisk, 1850's View online.
(mother of Elizabeth Fisk Spence)
2Correspondence - Edwin Spence, 1850's - 1860 View online.
2Correspondence - Julia Spence, 1856 1860
3Correspondence - Adam Spence's mother, [1850's] View online.
4Correspondence - James' mother; Thomas's mother, 1853-1855 View online.
5Correspondence - Julia & Edwin Spence's mother, 1863 View online.
6Correspondence - Kate, 1862 View online.
7Miscellaneous Correspondence View online.
8Miscellaneous Correspondence View online.
9Correspondence, no name, no date View online.

Series V: Other Institutions, 1903-1921



410Akola Girls School, India View online.
11Commencement Program - Washington Graded School, Washington, Georgia, 1903 View online.
12Invitations, Programs View online.
13 Meharry News, Jan.-March 1921 View online.
14Photograph View online.

Series V: Fisk University, 1871-1936



51Fisk University Anniversary Week Programs, 1883 1890-1892 1921 View online.
2Fisk University Portrait Book, 1901 View online.
3Fisk University Calendars, 1902 1908 View online.
4Fisk University Student and Student Organization Information View online.
5Pamphlet - Student Disturbance, Feb. 1925 View online.
6Performing Arts Events' announcements View online.
7Fund Raising Information View online.



61Fisk University News, 1871-1911 Dec. 1918 Jan. & March 1919 View online.
2Fisk University News, April, 1919
3Fisk University News, May, 1919
4Fisk University News, Nov., 1919 April, 1920 Dec., 1920
5Fisk University News, Jan., 1921
6Fisk University News, March and Dec., 1921
7Fisk University News, May and June, 1922
8Fisk University News, Feb., 1923
9Fisk University News, March June July 1923
10Fisk University News, March Oct. Nov. Dec., 1923
11Fisk University News, April and July 1924
12Fisk University News, April May 1925
13Report of the President of Fisk University, 1935-1936
14 Catalogues of Fisk University, 1899-1900 1908-1909 1912-1913
15Fisk University Bulletins, 1928 1929
16Fisk University Bulletins, 1930 1931.