Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– They are the unnamed faces at the center of a new civil rights exhibit at the Maryland Historical Society. And just in time for Black History Month experts are trying to identify thousands of people captured by a well-known African-American photographer from Baltimore.
Gigi Barnett explains how you can help.
Baltimore’s civil rights era came earlier than many other cities. And one photojournalist, Paul Henderson, was there to capture it.
“He was in that crowd that was making a difference, making changes.” Jennifer Ferretti, curator for the Henderson Collection at the Maryland Historical Society, said.
Henderson’s collection is now at the Maryland Historical Society. It’s been there for decades, packed in boxes and stored away.
But this week, the museum put his work on display.
“We got over 6,000 pictures and a few thousand prints. Once I really started look through it, I was in shock,” Ferretti said.
Ferretti is the curator of photography. She says Henderson was prolific. He captured Pearl Baily in her dressing room, Thurgood Marshall receiving honors and thousands of others who are nameless.
“There are amazing photographs of people getting married that we don’t know who they are. There are countless dinners,” said Ferretti.
Ferretti says there’s a reason why Henderson– a photographer with the ‘Afro Newspaper’ — never documented the faces in his photos.
“I think it was because of limited space, he just stopped writing on his photos altogether,” she said.
Because Henderson’s collection is so vast– more than 6,000 photos– Ferretti created a mini collection so that people who visit the Historical Society can flip through the pages and try to identify people they know.
“Putting a name to a face is extremely important because then you can look at newspapers, you can look at archives of newspapers to say who was this person,” Ferretti explained.
After learning more about Henderson and his work, the Historical Society is working on putting some of his photos in the State House and other government buildings around Maryland. Meanwhile, the exhibit runs indefinitely.
If you think you may know some of the people in the Henderson collection and you’d like to see the photos, click here.