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Elizabeth Fueller Spencer Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS468

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

Elizabeth Fueller Spencer (1898-1973) attended Whittier College and received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California before pursuing coursework toward a Master's at Columbia University Teachers College from 1924-1925. After working at an Episcopal settlement house with the poor in southern California in the late teens, she moved to Shanghai in 1920 as a missionary teaching at St. John's School. On her second tour of China, after study at Columbia, she was assigned to St. Agnes" School in Anjing as principal, where she was known by her students as Deaconess Betty. From March to April of 1927, during the period of upheaval surrounding the split of the Communist and liberal factions of the Guomindang (Nationalist Party) from the Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-Shek's) right-wing faction, Elizabeth Fueller Spencer kept a journal recording events at St. Agnes', as well as their evacuation by the American military. At the time the journal was written, the right-wing of the Guomindang was engaged in a fierce struggle against the Communist faction of the party. On April 12, shortly after the journal ends, the struggle culminated in the White Terror in Shanghai. Jiang's National Revolutionary Army and the Shanghai police, massacred between 5,000 and 10,000 Communist Party leaders and supporters over the course of a week, the starting point of a chain of events leading to the twenty-two year long civil war. Upon her return to the United States, Fueller married her longtime correspondent, Sidney Aretas Spencer, a Navy submariner and diesel engineer in July of 1929. They settled in Arizona, living in Naco and Casa Grande during the Depression, eventually buying a home in Bisbe, and converting to Catholicism there in 1933. They had one child, Sidney Durant, in 1930. Sidney A. Spencer was able to work throughout the Depression, and was employed by the Phelps Dodge Mining Company for much of his life. He passed away in 1960. After marriage, Elizabeth Spencer did not continue teaching but was involved producing religious broadcasts with the radio station KSUN, now based in Phoenix, Arizona. In the early 1960's she moved briefly to New York state, returning to Tucson, Arizone, in 1962. She passed away in February of 1973 at 75. Source: January 2003 interview with Sidney Durant Spencer. Additional genealogical information available in collection curatorial file.


  • 1925 - 1929
  • Majority of material found in 1927 - 1927

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box )

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

Provenance: Gift of Sidney Durant Spencer Status: Open Access. Processed by: Jodie Roussell, 2003

Elizabeth Fueller Spencer Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057