Michigan Historical Collections
Bentley Historical Library
University of Michigan

Finding Aid for
Chauncey E. Spencer Papers, 1914-2006

Finding aid prepared by:
Thomas E. Powers

Summary Information
Title: Chauncey E. Spencer Papers
Creator: Spencer, Chauncey E., 1906-
Inclusive dates: 1914-2006
Extent: 4.2 linear ft. and 1 oversize folder.
Abstract:
Aviator, civilian personnel officer with the U.S. Air Force; chronological and topical files, audio-visal materials, and clippings and scrapbooks.

Call number: 8646 Aa/2 Ac
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The bulk of the collection was donated in 1974 by Chauncey E. Spencer. Periodic additions were received thereafter. Donor no. 5481

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Excepting published writings, copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Chauncey E. Spencer Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Arrangement

The Spencer collection has been arranged by types of materials into the following series: Biographical/autobiographical material; Chronological; Subject Files; Sound Recordings; Visual Materials; Books; and Clippings and Scrapbooks.


Biography

Chauncey E. Spencer was born on November 5, 1906 in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Anne Spencer, the poet, and Edward A. Spencer, a businessman. He graduated from Virginia Seminary and College in 1930 with a major in sociology. After a period of government employment, Spencer went to Chicago to attend aviation school. While there, he assisted in organizing a group of other like-minded individuals interested in aviation, the National Airmen's Association of America. As business manager of the organization, Spencer argued for the inclusion of African Americans in the newly formed Civilian Pilot Training Program. Spencer joined the 184th Field Artillery, Illinois National Guard in 1938, and in 1940, he volunteered to enter the Armed Forces. Instead, in October 1941, he was released from the Army in order to serve in the U.S. Air Force. Shortly thereafter the Air Force selected him to serve as a civilian employee with important responsibility for the implementation of presidential executive orders providing for the integration of the armed services. Although he met with much opposition, for his work, Spencer was award the Exceptional Civilian Service Medal in 1948.

After the war and up until his retirement in 1960, Spencer was an Air Force Civilian Personnel Employment Relations Officer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. During the 1950s, based upon allegations brought against him, Spencer was suspended for period of months as a "security risk." Though completely exonerated, Spencer transferred to Norton Air Force Base in California. After leaving the Air Force, Spencer served as police commissioner of San Bernardino, California and deputy administrator of Highland Park, Michigan.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Chauncey Spencer collection is an accumulation of personal materials - correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, sound and video recordings - relating to his lifelong interest in aviation, his career with the military, and the career of his mother, poetess Anne Spencer.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


    Subjects:
    • Spencer, Chauncey E., 1906-
    • Aeronautics.
    • African Americans--Michigan.
    • Dayton (Ohio)
    • Discrimination in employment--United States.
    • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
    • Ohio--Social life and customs.
    • Personnel management.
    • United States. Army Air Forces.
    • World War, 1939-1945.
    • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Ohio)
    Subjects - Visual Material:
    • African Americans.
    • Air pilots.
    • Aeronautics.
    • Defense industry--Ohio.
    • Louis, Joe, 1914-
    • Lynchburg (Va.)
    • Spencer, Anne, 1882-1975.
    • Spencer, Chauncey E., 1906-
    • Spencer family.
    • United States. Army Air Forces.
    • War work.
    • World War, 1939-1945.
    • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Ohio)
    Sound Recordings
    • African American air pilots--History.
    • African Americans in aeronautics.
    • Spencer, Chauncey E., 1906-
    • Tuskegee Airmen.
    • United States. Air Force--African Americans.
    • United States. Army Air Forces. Fighter Group, 332nd.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Participation, African American.
    Contributors: Mixed Materials
    • Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967.
    • Spencer, Anne, 1882-1975.
    • Spencer, Edward A., d. 1964.
    Contributors: Sound Recordings
    • Dunmore, Al.
    • Jefferson, Alexander.
    • Muse, Clarence.
    • Polk, Wardell.
    • Silvera, Frank, 1914-1970.
    • Spann, Ray.
    • Spencer, Anne, 1882-1975.
    Genre/Form:
    • Photographs.
    • Posters.
    • Scrapbooks.
    • Sound recordings.
    • Videotapes.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
     
    Biographical/autobiographical material [series]

    The Biographical/autobiographical material series consists of autobiographical reminiscences written by Spencer in 1959 and 1973, also accumulated clippings, personnel documents, two transcribed interviews, and other items containing biographical information.

    Box   1  
    Autobiography entitled, "It didn't just happen today.",  1973
    Box   1  
    Autobiographical reminiscences,  1959
    Box   1  
    Biographical data
    Box   1  
    Interview transcriptions (2) 1988 and  2003
     
    Chronological [series]

    The Chronological series consists of letters and other papers from Spencer's career that have been brought together and arranged chronologically.

    Box   1  
    Papers,  1914-2003 (16 folders)
     
    Subject Files [series]

    Subject files are those records kept by Spencer and relating to specific phases or periods in his career. Of note are files pertaining to his suit against the Ohio State News, an African American newspaper that had charged Spencer in his capacity as employee relations officer at Patterson Field with discriminating against members of his own race. This series also contains a transcript of the testimony taken in 1953 before the Security Hearing Board that resulted from the charges placed against Spencer that he was a security risk.

    Box   1  
    Papers concerning law suit against Ohio State News,  1945-1947 (1 folder and 1 expandable folder)     (African American newspaper had charged that Spencer,as Employee Relations Officer at Patterson Field, had discriminated against his own race) 
    Box   2  
    Security Hearing Board transcript, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,  December 15-16,1953
    Box   2  
    "For White Only; A Satire of American Life" by Dr. James C. South, M.D.
    Box   2  
    History of black participation in the U.S. Military by Chauncey Spencer,  1944-1945,  1949
    Box   21  
    San Bernardino,(Calif.) County National Employ the Physically Handicapped Committee,  1959
    Box   2  
    Anne Spencer,  1975-1976
    Box   2  
    Black air force pilots/Tuskeegee Airmen/National Air and Space Museum
     
    Sound Recordings [series]

    The Sound Recordings date from 1970 to 1974 and consist of six cassettes. Included are a conversation with his mother, poet Anne Spencer; recordings with Al Dunmore, Alexander Jefferson, Ray Spann, Wardell Polk, and Chauncey Spencer concerning the condition of blacks in the armed forces; recording of actor-singer Clarence Muse; and a recitation (by Frank Silvera) of works of black poets.

    Box   2  
    Recordings of poems by James Weldon Johnson, Sterling A. Brown, and Chauncey E. Spencer recited by Frank Silvera.
    Box   2  
    Talk by Clarence Muse, actor-singer, in,  1970 and interview conducted by Chauncey Spencer,  1971     [includes also Richard Nixon news conference] 
    Box   2  
    Interview with poet, Anne Spencer by son Chauncey E. Spencer, including mention of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson December 25, 1971
    Box   2  
    Recording with Al Dunmore and Chauncey concerning condition of blacks in the armed forces during World War II,  May 29, 1972
    Box   2  
    Recording with Al Dunmore largely concerning condition of blacks in the armed forces,  1972-1973
    Box   2  
    Recording with Alexander Jefferson, pilot with Tuskegee Airmen, Ray Spann, Wardell Polk, and Chauncey Spencer, discussing World War II and later activities,  February 5, 1974
     
    Visual materials [series]

    Visual Materials includes both photographs, videocassettes, and DVDs. The photographs consist of personal and family portraits and photographs reflecting his interest in aviation and his career in the military. The videotapes consist of interview with Spencer, the 50th anniversary reunion of his high school class in Virginia, and the ceremony when his mother's home was designated a historic landmark in 1976.

     
    Photographs [subseries]
     
    Aviation
    Box   2  
    Civilian
    Box   2  
    Military
    Box   2  
     1939 Tour
    Box   2  
    Dunbar High School, Lynchburg, Va.
    Box   2  
    Friends
    Box   2  
    Homes
    Box   2  
    Louis, Joe
    Box   2  
    Norton Air Force Base
    Box   2  
    Politicians
    Box   2  
    San Bernardino, Calif.
     
    Spencer, Chauncey
    Box   2  
    As child and young man
    Box   2  
    Family
    Box   2  
    Portraits
    Box   2  
    Spencer, Edward, family
    Box   2  
    Wright Patterson Air Force Base
    Box   2  
    CD-ROM Images of unveiling of historical marker,  November 6, 2004
     
    Videotapes [subseries]
    Box   5  
    U-matic format     (color, all produced by WLVA-TV, Lynchburg, Va.) 
    Box   5  
    Interview with Spencer     (tape 1) 
    Box   5  
    Interview with Spencer     (tape 2) 
    Box   5  
    Dunbar High School, Class of  1926 50th reunion,  1976
    Box   5  
    Anne Spencer home becomes historic landmark,  1976
     
    VHS format
    Box   5  
    "An evening with Chauncey E. Spencer,"  February 8, 1996 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (90 min.)
    Box   5  
    "A Place in the Sky" (being the Chauncey Spencer Story)
    Box   5  
    Aircraft Crash File (United States Air Force),  1943-1944
    Box   5  
    "The Flying Fortress" (20 min.)
    Box   5  
    "The 18th Air Force"
     
    DVDs [subseries]
    Box   5  
    Chauncey Spencer in his home describing framed photographs on wall and relating the images to the events in his life, particularly African American airmen; portion of CS funeral service; interlude without commentary of Spencer photographs; "The 99th Pursuit Squadron" (ca. 30 min.)
    Box   5  
    Talk by CS on his career (88 minutes)
     
    Books [series]

    The Books series consists of monographs on African Americans in the armed forces, a volume about his mother Anne Spencer.

    Box   3  
    Breakthrough on the Color Front, by Lee Nichols, concerning the integration of the U.S. armed forces
    Box   3  
    Lonely Eagles, concerning black air force pilots
    Box   3  
    Time's Unfolding Garden, concerning Anne Spencer
    Box   3  
    Who is Chauncey Spencer by Chauncey E. Spencer (1975) (2 copies))
     
    Clippings and scrapbooks [series]

    The Clippings and Scrapbooks series consists of three scrapbooks that Spencer had put together from his career. Included with clippings are photographs and personal memorabilia. One volume concerns his family life and his interest aviation; another dates from the period when Spencer was at the Fairfield Air Depot in Ohio. This volume includes many photographs of the work and activities of the civilian personnel at that air force base.

    Box   3  
    Miscellaneous newspaper clippings and articles,  1929-1973 (4 folders)
    Box   3  
    New York Sunday News, September 4,1949
    Box   3  
    Miscellaneous newspapers and magazines (2 folders)
    Box   3  
    Scrapbook concerning role of blacks at the Air Material Command  1942-1949
    Box   3  
    Miscellaneous newspapers
     
    Scrapbook concerning the work of civilian personnel at the Fairfield Air Depot (Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio),  1943,  undated     (this scrapbook has been taken apart for preservation reasons, and the contents arranged by topic) 
    Box   3  
    General
     
    Photographs
    Box   3  
    Award ceremonies
    Box   3  
    Civilian barracks
    Box   3  
    Employees, Miscellaneous
     
    Factory work
    Box   3  
    Airplanes and engines
    Box   3  
    Miscellaneous
    Box   3  
    Office work
    Box   3  
    Outside work
    Box   3  
    Parking lots
    Box   3  
    Recreation
    Box   3  
    Skyway Park Dormitories
    Box   3  
    War Chest drive
    Box   3  
    Warehouse work
    Box   3  
    Welfare Office and Blood drive
    Box   3  
    Miscellaneous
    Oversize Folder   Ac  
    Outsize posters
    Box   4  
    Scrapbook,  ca. 1925-1965     (Includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs, and personal memorabilia largely concerning family life and interest in aviation; alsophotographs of Joe Louis during World War II.)