Maryland Historical Society Asks Public to Help Identity Individuals In Civil Rights Era Photos

Photojournalist Paul Henderson worked for The Baltimore Afro-American from 1929 until the 1960s. During his long career, Henderson captured thousands of photographs that tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement in Maryland. Now, the Maryland Historical Society will be mounting a display of some of these photographs with hopes that the public can provide more context.

The Maryland Historical Society holds over 7,000 photos and negatives taken by Henderson. Most of these photographs, however, are unlabeled. Joe Tropea, the Curator of Films and Photographs for the Maryland Historical Society, has worked with the collection for over a decade, but has yet to uncover all the details of the collection. “He was a consummate photojournalist. He was always on the scene,” Tropea said. “Like most photographers and photojournalists, he didn’t always get to label his work. By and large he left us with a lot of mysteries.”

The historical society will be displaying some of Henderson’s photographs in an exhibit at Bowie State University. During the exhibit, the historical society will be enlisting the help of the public to solve some of the mysteries. Each image on display will be accompanied by a QR code visitors can scan to submit information about the corresponding photograph. The school library will also hold twenty three binders that contain copies of every image in the collection. Visitors can then fill out a form if they know something about a photograph.

Tropea hopes that the exhibit will not only reveal some new information about the collection, but also increase community awareness of the historical society’s holdings.

The Henderson photographs will be on display at the Bowie State University student center between February 4 and May 22. Some of the collection can also be viewed online at