Paul Henderson Photographs

Paul Henderson was a photojournalist who worked for the Afro-American newspaper and photographed civil rights activities, sports, street scenes, politicians, and countless unidentified people. Over 7,000 of his photographs are held at the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) in Baltimore, Maryland. The exhibit Paul Henderson: Baltimore’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs, ca. 1940-1960 is on display at MdHS indefinitely and the reference photos of the original negatives are available to the public in the Special Collections Department in the MdHS library. The Henderson Collection finding aid can also be found on the MdHS website.

Through Henderson’s photos, this blog asks the question, “What was life like in Maryland for the African American community during the Civil Rights Era?” Browse through the articles about people, places, and events below or the Galleries pages to get an idea.

Video info: Interview with Vernon Dobson. McKeldin-Jackson Oral History Project Collection, Maryland Historical Society, OH 8131.

Transcript:
I think it’s a false assumption that negro progress has been born on the shoulders of a few people. And this is why I shun myself and [?] the leadership role, visible leadership role when it comes to being printed up in the press as a leader. Because I think it’s a false assumption on the part of any person to believe that he or she is the leader. We are participants of a process and the process is continuing. And it never ends. And isn’t going to end until everybody’s free.

Thurgood Marshall Receiving NAACP Life Membership Plaque from Carl Murphy

Thurgood Marshall Receiving NAACP Plaque from Carl Murphy, ca. 1956. Paul Henderson, HEN.00.A2-148.

Thurgood Marshall Receiving NAACP Plaque from Carl Murphy, ca. 1956. Paul Henderson, HEN.00.A2-148.

Before Baltimore native Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993) became the first African American U.S. Supreme Court justice, he was a lawyer directing legal operations for the NAACP from 1940 to 1961. Known for many of his great accomplishments during the struggle for civil rights, his most noted are the Murray v. Pearson and Brown v. Board of Education. In the former case, Marshall, along with Charles Hamilton Houston broke the walls of segregation in 1935 when they secured the admission of Donald Gaines Murray to the University of Maryland School of Law, which before then denied admission to blacks. The former and most well-known Marshall case was a landmark decision that decreed separate public schools for black and white students was unconstitutional in 1954.

Image information:

Thurgood Marshall receiving NAACP plaque from Carl Murphy [editor of the Afro-American newspaper]
Baltimore, Maryland
circa 1956
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.A2-148
Maryland Historical Society

Sam Lacy with Morgan State College relay team

Sam Lacy with MSU relay team, 1949. Paul Henderson, MdHS, HEN.01.14-041.

Sam Lacy with MSU relay team, 1949. Paul Henderson, MdHS, HEN.01.14-041.

Sports writer for the Afro-American newspaper, Sam Lacy, covered sports and used the opportunity to write about racial injustice in the profession. He was known for confronting and shaming those who ignored black athletic talent.

Image information:

Sam Lacy with Morgan State College relay team
Baltimore, Maryland
May 1949
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.01.14-041
Maryland Historical Society

Who or Where? Do you know the names of the team members in this photograph? If so, please fill out the online Henderson Collection ID Survey.

Mahalia Jackson singing in church

Mahalia Jackson singing in church. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.01.10-016.

Mahalia Jackson singing in church. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.01.10-016.

Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) became involved with the Civil Rights movement at the suggestion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She sang at the Prayer for Pilgrimage for Freedom civil rights rally in 1957 on the third anniversary of Brown v. Board decision, and just before Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963.

Image information:

Mahalia Jackson singing in church
Baltimore, Maryland
February 1949
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.01.10-016
Maryland Historical Society

Who or Where? Do you know the name of the Baltimore church in this photograph? If so, please fill out the online Henderson Collection ID Survey.

NAACP Membership Registration Campaign meeting

NAACP meeting. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A2-147.

NAACP meeting. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A2-147.

Founded in 1912, the Baltimore Branch of the NAACP is the second oldest in the country. In response to legal segregation in education, housing, and employment, Dr. Carl Murphy, editor of the Afro-American newspaper, called a meeting with fourteen community leaders in 1935 in an effort to revitalize the branch. Dr. Lillie May Carroll Jackson was one of the fourteen and from then until 1970, she would be president of the Baltimore Branch. The association’s membership in 1965 totaled 440,538 in 1,642 branches throughout the U.S.

Image information:

NAACP Membership Registration Campaign meeting
Baltimore, Maryland
October 1948
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.A2-147
Maryland Historical Society

Sewing, cleaning, and pressing class at Carver Vocational School

Sewing, cleaning, and pressing class at Carver Vocational School. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.01.05-025.

Sewing, cleaning, and pressing class at Carver Vocational School. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.01.05-025.

Established circa 1925, George Washington Carver Vocational [Technical] High School was the first vocational center established in Baltimore that was open to black students.

Image information:

Sewing, cleaning, and pressing class at Carver Vocational School
1200-1216 West Lafayette Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland
October 1949
Paul Henderson, 1899-1988
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.01.05-025
Maryland Historical Society

1200 West Lafayette Avenue via Google Maps:

Children entering the Regent Theatre

Children entering the Regent Theatre. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.B1-006.

Children entering the Regent Theatre. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.B1-006.

Weekend trips to the theater to watch cartoons was a popular activity for children in area of the Regent Theatre. The Regent Theatre (1627 Pennsylvania Avenue) and the Royal Theatre (1329 Pennsylvania Avenue) both screened films and held live shows in addition to showing cartoons.

Image information:

Children entering the Regent Theatre
1627 Pennsylvania Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland
ca. 1942
Paul Henderson, 1899-1988
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.B1-006
Maryland Historical Society

1627 Pennsylvania Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland via Google Maps: