In Memoriam: Taronda Spencer, C’80, Spelman College Archivist

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tarondaThe Spelman College community mourns the passing of Taronda Spencer, C’80, college archivist and historian.

An alumna of Spelman, Taronda returned to her alma mater as the archivist in 1998. In 2000, she was appointed college historian. Taronda was well-known and well-respected by alumnae, faculty, staff, and students for her extensive knowledge of Spelman’s history, and the extent to which she would go to ensure that the College’s history was accurately documented, accessible, and relevant for the campus community, and the community at large.

A second generation archivist, Taronda was a student assistant assigned to the Spelman College Archives before earning a bachelor of arts degree in history from the College in 1980. In 1985, she received a master of arts degree in history and archives administration from the University of New Orleans.

Professionally, she has worked at a number of institutions including the Amistad Research Center (where her mother was an assistant archivist) and the Historic New Orleans Collection in New Orleans, as well as the Walter P. Reuther Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University in Detroit. Taronda was also the archivist for the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College and the Atlanta chapter.

Please visit this link for details about the memorial and funeral services.

Please share your memories of Taronda with us in the comment section below. Also, we’d love to share any photos you have of  Taronda with the Spelman community. Please email them to us at Visit a photo gallery of our beloved archivist.


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  1. says

    As I struggled to pull my suitcases out of the Taxi cab that hot June day of 1976 in front of Manley Hall-I heard a voice- ‘Lil GURL – Lemme Help you!!” I was from Ohio and HAD never heard an accent like that. I stopped and stared as she took the suticase right out of my hands. From that moment she was my Spelman Sister, My friend and would tell you about yourself when she thought you needed it. I will miss her laugh, her expressions -FUHTRUE! but know she is with me EVERYDAY.

  2. Alysia says

    This makes me so sad She was always full of encouraging words, excitement, joy, and passion. She will truly be missed.

  3. Tonya Holloway says

    Taronda ALWAYS had the most beautiful smile on her face EVERYTIME that I would see her on Spelman’s campus. It was infectious! She will be missed.

  4. says

    The first time I encountered Ms. Taronda, was during new faculty orientation in August 2004. I was so impressed with the amount of Spelman history she was able to share with us as she took us on a tour of the campus. Each time we crossed paths she was always had such a warm energy and spirit. Although I wasn’t as close to her as many were, I will definitely miss her presence, knowledge and contributions around campus. Thank you for touching my life.

  5. Wanda Reid Wilsona says

    I had the pleasure of having lunch with Taronda on last Friday never imagining that it would be the last conversation that I would have with my classmate. We discussed her work as the college archivist and the method for cataloguing documents. Taronda talked about her next big project in which she would be working on the photo catalogue which includes over 35k photos. She was excited about her work and her excitement was contagious. Taronda is gone but never forgotten.

  6. Angelia Souder Blackwell says

    I’ll miss Taronda very much. From the Summer program in 1976 to today she has always been a wonderful friend and Spelman Sister. True Blue.

  7. Karen Jenkins Newkirk c'90 says

    I was so saddened by this sudden news. I always chatted with Taronda when I was on campus. We went to the same high school and we always chatted about our home town when I saw her. So sad for her family. She will be truly missed.

  8. Brenda Harrison says

    I was leaving campus two weeks ago and I heard a voice behind me that was familiar but, I wasn’t sure who it was because I’d just returned to campus after being away for eight years. I looked around and it was Taronda. We hugged and she greeted me with that same beautiful smile she had eight years ago every time I saw her. We laughed and had such a good time talking. I told her where I was working on campus. Last week I saw her again this time we were on the way to our offices, so we greeted each other with a great big smile and wave. That was the last time I saw her. Would have never imagine I am so sorry she had to leave so soon but, she leaves such a wonderful legacy and memory that will always make us smile. RIP my friend.

  9. Latanya Hammonds-Odie says


    You will be missed. We will always remember your love for Spelman and for your Spelman Sisters.

    Love you, T from LT

  10. Kate Nevins says

    Such sad news! Taronda did so much to preserve and make accessible the archives of HBCU’s. Now she’s helping to organize God’s archives!

  11. Karen Cotton McDaniel says

    We will always appreciate the invaluable work that Taronda accomplished in support of HBCU libraries and archives. Taronda was such a delightful person,always so full of energy and knowledge which she joyfully shared with others. You will be missed.

    Professor Emeritus
    Kentucky State University

  12. Veronica Haven, C'73 says

    Taronda was a beautiful person, always cheerful and uplifting. She was very knowledgeable and helpful. When I reached out to her to mentor my daughter who was interested in being an archivist, Taronda graciously spent the time to help her. I will always be grateful to her for being so giving. She was a blessing to me, to Spelman and to all she encountered. May God’s blessings be forever with her and with her family.

  13. Heather Garrett says

    The Spelman community took a huge loss with the passing of our dear Taronda!!! I remember how dedicated she was to her work! She loved Spelman!!! She will be sorely missed! I send my deepest sympathy to the family and friends.

  14. Veronica Smith Byrd C'80 says

    From our first meeting in 1976 to present day, I don’t recall EVER seeing my classmate Taronda without her pleasent, infectious smile beaming from ear to ear!! She was the epitome of a TRUE Spelman sister! Taronda truly loved Spelman, she truly loved being an archivist and she was VERY successful in combining these two loves. Spelman has lost one of her most lovely, dedicated sisters. Her legacy will live on in the incredible archivist work she has done for our dear school. I am sending out postive, comforting, healing thoughts and prayers to Taronda’s family during this most difficult time.

  15. Stacie Alvarez says

    Ms. Spencer was one of the most amazing parts of my Spelman experience. She was always kind, full of wisdom, and knowledge. In addition to ensuring that the Spelman students knew the school history she was truly invested. Ms Spencer was a key part of my Thesis research this year. She pulled articles and books without me asking. She offered direction, made phone calls on my behalf and attended my presentation. She was a true big sister and I am thankful to have known her.

  16. Deidre Octave says

    As a teenager, Taronda was such an influential person in my life educationally, spiritually and socially. As we travelled with the Gospel music workshop, sang with the freeman association choir and attended church together, she was always around to help guide me as and example of a young woman of God. She was like a big sister always encouraging me about expanding my horizons, embracing my education and moving forward. She introduced me to one of my greatest mentors in a sisterly way to further guide my growth and development.

    Heaven truly has welcomed home an amazing spirit, beautiful soul and outstanding person.

    My deepest thoughts and prayers are with her family.

  17. Estelle L. Finley says

    It was indeed a shock to hear the news of Taronda’s passing. I think of her always as the pleasant, always smiling face, and engaging conversationalist whom I frequently saw on the second floor of Cosby when I was either going to or leaving classes that I taught. As a professional, she was helpful in explaining how the archives were organized, and exactly what I could find there if I were to need documents or other archival materials that were housed in the archives. I will truly miss her as one of Spelman’s dedicated alumnae and staff members. God bless her family and may she reside peacefully now in the bosom of Christ.

  18. Yunice Jones Patrick C'92 says

    Taronda and I were “floor mates” during my employment at Spelman over a decade ago. She was always excited when she got something new to add to the archives and was willing to share the history and the story behind receiving items into the Spelman Collection. She was a walking encyclopedia to so much of Spelman’s History and even facts outside of Spelman’s gates. I never saw her sad and oh that smile!!! You did your job well and you will be missed!

  19. says

    I was shocked and disheartened when I heard the news about Taronda Spencer. I attended my 10-year reunion in May and was so excited to see her! It made me proud to know that she was still apart of the Spelman family. I first met Taronda Spencer in 1999, as a college freshman. During my first week at Spelman, my classmates and I were collecting signatures to prove that we knew our Spelman history and obtain our dorm keys. Taronda was a joyful spirit who shared photos, letters and stories about the history of Spelman College with myself and some of my classmates. My meeting her sparked a love and reverence for history and it still saddens me to know that she has transitioned. However, she will never be forgotten. “Beacons of heavenly light, undaunted by the fight.”

  20. says

    Taronda and my daughter were best friends in elementary school. I was heartbroken when the mother of one of their friends sent me the picture from the paper. Taronda was such a lovely child and stayed at my house so much that her dad asked me if I wanted her clothes. From all that I have heard and read I know that she is in Heaven with our Lord and savior. I pray that her mom and the other family members would keep their mind stayed on the Lord because He promised perfect peace. To the family you have my sympathy.

  21. says

    Taronda and I were best friends as children. We went to school together as well as church. We attended several events and child activities together. I am sorry that we lost contact with one another but I still remember the smile she kept on her face and the way she made others smile. From reading all the information given by all those that loved her, the lives she impacted, and the work she dedicated her life doing, I can tell that the angels of heaven are dancing and parading for another angel that have come home. It seems like she lived the life she started as a child and now she is where the Lord desires her to be with the response of “Well done my faithful servent.” I am sure that you will be well missed.

  22. Robert Smith says

    As with others, I was shocked and sadden to hear of the passing of my good friend and former colleague, Taronda. Many of the comments mention her significant contribution to Spelman. I’m unsurprised, from meeting her in 1991, all she talked about was one day becoming the Archivist for Spelman. I would like to add, for approximately nine years, beginning at Wayne State University in 1992, Taronda was the lead Archivist for a major NEH funded project to survey the historical collections at HBCUs, a project that was eventually moved to Spelman. The one-million dollar project was mammoth in its scope. Taronda and Janet Harper, the Project’s Indexer, conducted on-site surveys of all but two HBCUs, some 98 in all, practically living out of suitcases. This was the first and still stands as the most comprehensive effort to bring under intellectual control these collections and make them more accessible to scholars, a major contribution to history and African American history in particularly. This project resulted in more attention being paid to these collections, helping in their preservation and access. This effort was made with great sacrifice by Taronda and others. Therefore, in addition to her contribution to Spelman, I would hope she is remembered for helping to preserve our larger history. She was a dear friend, and I greatly admired her for her self-sacrifice and courage. I will surely miss her.

  23. DaNita Brady McClain says

    Taronda served us well as an archivist and now she will serve beyond the veil and experience the ultimate joy of being in the presence of the Lord. I pray that God sustains us as we will miss her sorely but we will find joy in the memories she leaves us with. Go in peace my Spelman sister and rejoice with our other Spelman sisters who have gone before you. I know they greeted you accordingly immediately after God stated “well done my good and faithful servant.”

  24. Karen Clay says

    I had the pleasure of working with and being around Taronda while on staff at Spelman in the Advancement office several years ago. What an amazing smile she had, equaled only by her obvious passion for the important work she did. It was a blessing to have known her and I’m saddened to hear of her passing so young.

  25. Rhoda Miller Martin says

    Taronda was a delightful person and a capable and enthusiastic professional.
    She helped my struggling efforts to use the College archives as I sought to document the history that Spelman has developed in the area of international education. I anticipated her assistance in other research efforts. I can’t imagine the Archives without her cheerful and helpful presence. We have lost a jewel. She will be missed!

  26. Lauren Sills says

    Ms. Spencer was one of the sweetest women at Spelman, constantly engaging students and passionate about the history of our unique institution. I was able to meet her at a young age, because she was my mother’s classmate. She watched over my sisters and I as we matriculated through Spelman, telling us fascinating stories, and encouraging us to reach back to Alumnae. She would truly light up, at Reunion time because seeing her Spelman sisters gave her such joy. She will be missed.

  27. says

    I am saddened to just learn of the news of Taronda’s passing. My heart and prayers are with her family, friends and the Spelman community.

    Time and our existence may change but, memories will always remain the same. Taronda, thank you for opening my eyes about Spelman’s history in such a way that I developed a strong appreciation for the history (the unknown) behind all things and even people.

    DiTanya Madden

  28. says

    I too, am shocked and saddened to learn of Taronda’s untimely passing. She was always so pleasant and cheerful, and had such a winning smile. I was sorry when she left The Historic New Orleans Collection for Wayne State, but am pleased to learn that she returned to her beloved Spelman.
    I send my sincere sympathy to her family, friends, and all those who loved her.

  29. Debborah Truesdell Lindsay says

    I met Taronda in June of 1976 when we arrived at Spelman for a summer program. She was always cheerful and pleasant. I recall her telling me she wanted to be an Archivist. I was happy that she met her goal. I visited the campus a few years ago with my daughter and was able to spend a Sunday with Taronda. We attended service at Sister’s Chapel (she offered to give me directions to the chapel), ate lunch in the cafeteria and reminisced about friends and classmates. She sent me a wonderful gift that year–a copy of the 1980 yearbook. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. I was able to see the development of my friends and happy to see their smiling, beautiful faces! I will truly miss Taronda.

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