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  • Originally published 07/19/2013

    La. voter registration test is mystery for historians

    A Philadelphia historian sparked a days-long — and so far fruitless — archival search when she challenged her blog readers to take an “impossible” test purportedly once given to prospective black voters in Louisiana.The test, which asks the taker to “spell backwards, forwards” among other tasks, went viral on the Internet after it posted on a noted civil rights history website. The Tennessee State Archives put a copy in its collections. Teachers are using it in their history lessons. However, history experts in Louisiana do not have a copy of it.“I suspected that was a hoax,” Andrew Salinas, reference archivist for the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, said Wednesday.A former civil rights worker who insists the test was given offered another explanation. Jeff Schwartz said Louisiana might have been reluctant to preserve an embarrassing chapter in its history....

  • Originally published 06/04/2013

    Taronda Spencer, 54: Spelman College archivist, historian

    As the archivist at Spelman College, Taronda Spencer was responsible for preserving the past. At the same time, she had a tremendous impact on the future of the college and its students.A 1980 graduate of Spelman, Spencer became the institution’s archivist in 1998 and the college’s historian in 2000. In those roles she routinely helped researchers, and anyone else who may have been looking, find information among the collections of papers and memorabilia that belong to the school.“Taronda’s job as the college archivist was unique,” said Beverly Guy-Sheftall, professor of women’s studies and founding director of the Spelman College Women’s Research and Resource Center. “We were looking for someone who had the qualifications of a college archivist, but who would also work within the Women’s Center unit, because we were also interested in fostering research on African-American women.”...On May 17, two days before graduation, Taronda Elise Spencer, of Atlanta, fell ill while at a Spelman function that evening. She died later that night after suffering a massive heart attack. She was 54....

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