Paul Henderson Goes to City Hall: Maryland Historical Society to open exhibit at City Hall on June 5, 2013

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Protesting Jim Crow Admissions policy at Ford’s Theatre, HEN.00.A2-156

The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) is happy to announce the first stop on its new traveling exhibit, Paul Henderson: Maryland’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs, ca. 1940-1960. The 46-piece photo print exhibit opens on June 5 in the rotunda at Baltimore City Hall (100 N Holliday St., Baltimore). The traveling exhibit is nearly twice as large as the show currently on display at MdHS and is free and open to the public. Viewing times at City Hall are Monday – Fridays, 9am to 5pm. Photo ID is required for entry into City Hall.

 

Paul Henderson’s work is an invaluable visual record of both the Civil Rights movement and everyday life in Maryland. Photo prints on display at City Hall and MdHS include well-known figures such as actor and singer Paul Robeson, future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Gov. Theodore McKeldin, actress and singer Pearl Bailey, and gospel legend Mahalia Jackson; bygone landmarks such as the Royal Theatre and old Pennsylvania Avenue; students and educators of Morgan State College; and many unknown Maryland residents.

 

Paul Henderson: Maryland’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs, ca. 1940-1960 also represents MdHS’s continuing attempt to identify the people and locations in Henderson’s photos.  This exhibit follows an identification event in April sponsored by the Pierians Incorporated, Baltimore Chapter held at MdHS during which more than 100 attendees helped identify many people and places. But more work is needed. Most of the prints containing unknown people and places have QR codes printed on the labels that will take smartphone users to an online survey where they can type in names and other information. Identification forms will also be available in the rotunda at City Hall near the prints.

 

Exhibit curated by Joe Tropea and Jennifer A. Ferretti

 

Paul Henderson (1899-1988) was an African-American photographer who worked in Baltimore from the 1930s to 1960s.  Most of his career was spent at the Afro-American newspaper where he documented significant events and everyday life in Baltimore’s African-American communities, leaving behind a collection of over 6,000 photographs.

 

MdHS acquired Henderson’s collection from the Baltimore City Life Museum (also known as the Peale Museum) when it closed its doors in 1997.  The collection came to MdHS unprocessed and with little useful description.  In 2010, Towson University’s Historic Preservation class began reprocessing and over the past two years interns, volunteers, and staff have worked to complete the project.  The final phase of processing is to identify the people and places in Henderson’s pictures.

 

The Paul Henderson Collection has been covered by The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, City Paper, Baltimore Brew, C-SPAN, WJZ-TV, and WYPR-FM.

 

“…a gold mine of local civil rights history.” City Paper, Feb. 22, 2012

A preview of the images in the new exhibit can be viewed here:
http://www.mdhs.org/underbelly/2013/05/23/everyday-people-paul-henderson-collection-goes-to-city-hall/  and here: http://hendersonphotos.wordpress.com/ 

 

Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore. The society’s mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage.” The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled “Maryland Historical Magazine.” Visit www.mdhs.org.

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