Henderson Exhibit Opening at Morgan State University

Opening February 2, 2016; Reception February 11, 2016, 4:30p-6:30p

The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) proudly announces the opening of its popular traveling exhibition of the work of photojournalist Paul Henderson on February 2, 2016 at Morgan University’s James E. Lewis Museum of Art. This exhibit is nearly twice as large as the show currently on display at MdHS and is free and open to the public. It features over 30 never-before-publically-exhibited Henderson works that focus on MSU. The show will be up through the end of March.

Paul Henderson’s work is an invaluable visual record of both the Civil Rights movement and everyday life in Maryland. He may be best known as the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper’s first photographer, starting at the paper in 1929.  From 1947 through 1955, Henderson spent a lot of time on the campus of Morgan State College (now University). semi-retiring in 1960. Talented and prolific, he created a body of more than 7,000 images, most of them unidentified, by subject or location, at the time of his death in 1988. MdHS has been working for over five years to put names to people and places.

Paul Henderson: Photographing Morgan features an interactive component, as MdHS continues its research to identify the people and locations in Henderson’s photos. Most of the prints containing unidentified people and places are accompanied by QR codes that will connect smartphone users to an online survey where information can be submitted. Identification forms will also be available in the gallery.

Paul Henderson: Photographing Morgan was curated by Joe Tropea. An opening reception will be held at the James E. Lewis Museum of Art on Feb. 11, 4:30pm–6:30pm. 2201 Argonne Dr. Baltimore, MD 21251


Sam Lacy with Morgan State College relay team

Sam Lacy, sports writer for the Afro-American newspaper, speaking with Morgan State College relay team. Paul Henderson, 1949. Maryland Historical Society.

Sam Lacy, sports writer for the Afro-American newspaper, speaking with Morgan State College relay team. Paul Henderson, 1949. Maryland Historical Society.

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.

Sam Lacy is seen here speaking with members of the Morgan State College relay team known as the “Historic Four.” Bill Brown (second from left), Robert “Bob” Tyler (third from left), Sam LaBeach (second from right), George Rhoden (far right).

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

Morgan State College (now Morgan State University)

Morgan State College basketball team, HEN.03.02-064

Class inside gym, Morgan State College. Paul Henderson. MdHS. HEN.06.04-015.

In 1867, the Methodist Episcopal Church opened the Centenary Biblical Institute to train young men in ministry. In 1890, after broadening its mission to educate black men and women as teachers, the school was renamed Morgan College after the first chairman of its Board of Trustees and land donor, Reverend Lyttleton Morgan.

After a few decades, President John Oakley Spencer realized the college was outgrowing its space at Fulton and Edmondson Avenues and activated plans to move and expand. After learning of Andrew Carnegie’s speech in support of black education, the college contacted the philanthropist for financial assistance.

Carnegie agreed to provide $50,000 to the college for a new site only if the board met certain terms, including raising matching funds. The board pledged $25,000 and the public contributed the difference, with much-needed pleas for assistance from the Afro-American newspaper for this “praiseworthy object.”

After being prohibited from relocating to Mount Washington, a white Baltimore suburb, a parcel of land in northeast Baltimore became the best option. Fifty community members filed lawsuits against the move, including poet Edgar Allan Poe’s grandnephew and namesake. All attempts failed and Harry O. Wilson, Baltimore’s leading black banker, purchased the land for the college that became known as Wilson Park.

The college met all of Carnegie’s conditions and in 1917 moved to its present location. In 1939, the state of Maryland purchased the school after a study determined that Maryland needed to provide more opportunities for its black residents. [Image: Morgan State College basketball team, 1951, Maryland Historical Society, HEN.03.02-064; Class inside gym, Morgan State College, 1955, Maryland Historical Society, HEN.06.04-015.]

The photographs below are only a small fraction of the additional photographs of Morgan State College by Paul Henderson:

Verda Freeman Welcome

Maryland State Senator Verda Freeman Welcome, HEN.00.B1-054

After graduating from Coppin Normal School (now Coppin State University) and Morgan State College (now Morgan State University), Maryland State Senator Verda Welcome taught in Baltimore City Public Schools for eleven years. In 1958 she was the first black woman elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, representing the Fourth District of Baltimore City. In 1962 she was elected to the Maryland Senate, becoming the first black female senator in the United States. From the Senate seat, Senator Welcome passed legislation that dealt with issues of discrimination.

Source: Maryland State Archives, Women’s Hall of Fame

Image information:
Verda Freeman Welcome
Paul Samuel Henderson, 1899-1988
Digital reproduction from 4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.B1-054
Maryland Historical Society

More photographs of Senator Welcome by Paul Henderson: