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.

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Thurgood Marshall Receiving NAACP Lifetime 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 (1936) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). 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 lifetime membership 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, 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

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:

Group portrait [NAACP lawyers with Esther McCready and others]

Group portrait [NAACP lawyers with Esther McCready and others], 1950. Paul Henderson, HEN.02.07-019.

Group portrait [NAACP lawyers with Esther McCready and others], 1950. Paul Henderson, HEN.02.07-019.

Although fully qualified, Esther McCready (third from left) was denied admission to the University of Maryland School of Nursing solely because of her skin color. Seen here with her attorneys, Thurgood Marshall (fourth from left) and Donald Gaines Murray (second from right), McCready sued the university for admission based on the argument that she was not provided “equal protection under the law” (McCready v. Byrd, 1949) and forced to pursue her education out-of-state where blacks were accepted while her white counterparts were being trained in state. On April 14, 1950, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in McCready’s favor. Also pictured: Parren Mitchell (far right).

Image information:

Group portrait [NAACP lawyers with Esther McCready and others]
1950
Paul Henderson, 1899-1988
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.02.07-019
Maryland Historical Society

Ms. McCready was a special guest at the program that accompanied the Paul Henderson exhibition opening (February 23, 2012):

Esther McCready (third from left) speaking about her experience at the panel discussion, Seen & Heard: Maryland's Civil Rights Era in Photographs and Oral Histories.

Esther McCready (third from left) speaking about her experience at the panel discussion, Seen & Heard: Maryland’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs and Oral Histories.

The Charm Centre

The Charm Centre, 1948. Paul Henderson, MdHS, HEN.00.B2-164.

The Charm Centre, 1948. Paul Henderson, MdHS, HEN.00.B2-164.

The owners of this upscale women’s dress store, William “Little Willie” Lloyd Adams and wife Victorine Quille Adams, had impressive resumes that contributed to the civil rights struggle. Willie Adams, multi-million dollar illegal lotteries operator turned legitimate businessman, funded aspiring black entrepreneurs during a time when banks would not lend to blacks. He also funded desegregation lawsuits. Victorine Adams was a highly regarded woman for both her poise and political accomplishment. In 1946, she directed the “Register-to-Vote” campaign which resulted in thousands of new voters. She was the first elected woman of any race to be appointed to the Baltimore City Council in 1967.

Image information:

The Charm Centre

1811 Pennsylvania Avenue, Baltimore
September 1948
4 in. x 5 in. acetate negative
Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, HEN.00.B2-164

Google Maps Street View of 1811 Pennsylvania Avenue today:

Sources:
Diminutive Mrs. Adams received ‘giant’ tribute. (May 10, 1958). Afro-American newspaper.
Smith, F. (2008). Here Lies Jim Crow: Civil Rights in Maryland. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Pietila, A. (2010). Not in My Neighborhood:  How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City. Ivan R. Dee, Publisher.