The Hersey Everett Spence papers contain correspondence, writings (poems, plays, eulogies by Smith), clippings, a sound recording, and other printed material reflecting the opinions and career of H.E. Spence. Spence was noted for his outspokenness on the state of the University and on matters such as desegregation (he was not in favor) and athletics (he was in favor). Other subjects present include: biography and family genealogy; the Methodist Retirement Home; and the Duke Memorial Methodist Church (both in Durham, NC). The collection includes over 100 unpublished poems; a copy of Spence's "When Preacher's Meet", a volume concerning the NC Pastor's School; the typescript of "I Remember" (1954) [400 pages, titled "Fifty Years of Alma Mater"]; and a taped interview (12 June 1970; no transcript). The materials in the collection range in date from 1794; 1904-1973; with the bulk of the materials dating from 1938 to 1970.
Born in South Mills, North Carolina (June 12, 1882) and educated at Trinity College, Durham (A.B., 1907; A.M. 1908) and Duke University (B.D., 1927) Hersey Everett Spence was a minister, educator, and writer. After graduating from Trinity in 1908 he spent ten years in the pastorate before returning to his alma mater in 1918 as Professor of Religious Education and Biblical Literature. (This is believed to be the first appointment of a Professor of Religious Education in a southern college.)
Spence was active in Methodist education throughout North Carolina, and well known through his service on the North Carolina Pastors' School, the Sunday School Board, and the Methodist Board of Education, as well as, for his pastorates held in Raleigh, Durham, Sanford, and Blowing Rock. He taught the Heresy Spence Sunday School Class at Duke Memorial Methodist Church for forty years. At his retirement in 1952 it was believed that Dr. Spence had taught about two-thirds of the Methodist ministers then serving in North Carolina.
Spence was also known as a public speaker and author of poetry and religious drama. For twenty years he wrote and directed the Christmas Pageant a main feature of the Duke University Christmas exercises. His Choral Communion Service-the Rhapsody of Redemption-was also a fixture of the pre-Easter season at Duke and often played to overflow capacity in the University Chapel. Over the years he produced many pageants and poem for religious, educational, and civic occasions as well as radio broadcasts. A number of his programs were used throughout the Southeast and in the Methodist Church at large. A listing of his formal publications include: "Reveries in Rhyme," "A Guide to Bible Study," "Ruth," "Marching Men of Methodism," "When Cross Roads Cross Again," "Old Testament Dramas," "The Bishop's Crusade," "Pageants," and "Holidays and Holy Days."
On October 8, 1913, Spence married Bessie Octavia Whitted of Durham. Mrs. Spence an alumna of Trinity College, Duke University (A.B, A.M.), and the University of Chicago (B.D.) taught for a number of years in the local Durham city schools, and in 1928-1929 was the Dean of Girls at Durham High School. In 1929-1930 she became an assistant professor of Biblical Literature in the Department of Religion at Duke University. The Spence's retired from Duke University in 1952 after a combined 60 years of service.
Upon his retirement Professor Spence was honored with the distinction of being the first recipient at Duke University of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. He was also granted honorary degrees from Asbury Theological Seminary (Doctor of Divinity) and High Point College (Doctor of Letters).
Hersey Everett Spence died September 30, 1973. Mrs. Spence followed soon after passing away on October 7, 1973.
Processed by Sherrie Bowser, September 2008
Encoded by Sherrie Bowser, October 2008
Accessions 48-2094, 62-523, 65-192, 68-107, 73-16, 74-111, A88-0033 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.