Kimberly Annece Henderson never thought she’d be a published author or develop an Internet following for her 4th great grandmother, but she is happily basking in that success now.
Henderson is the digital curator of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York City. Her debut lyrical picture book, Dear Yesteryear, was published by Penguin RandomHouse in March and honors and celebrates Black Americans from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“To be honest, many of my immediate dreams have materialized, and I’m super grateful for that,” says Henderson, who graduated from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies in 2021 with a master’s degree in library and information science. “I haven’t really thought about future possibilities and probably won’t until the smoke clears on current projects.”
Her curatorial work can be seen in projects like The New York Times’ 1619 Project Book. She has also created and curated an archival visual history platform, Emaline and ‘nem, named after her paternal 4th great grandmother who was enslaved and appears in very few records prior to the 1870 US Federal Census. Her Emaline Instagram account has more than 45,000 followers.
The project is intended “to unearth the visual histories of everyday Black Americans from the late 1800s and early 1900s,” according to Henderson’s LinkedIn profile.
‘I’m Obsessed With Family History Research’
Originally from North Carolina, Henderson has lived and worked in New York City for the past eight years. Her projects focus on genealogy, Black American lineages and unearthing visual histories.
“I’m obsessed with family history research and old photographs of everyday Black folks from the late 1800s and early 1900s,” she says.
Henderson’s introduction to arts and humanities began in grade school when she attended a middle and high school for the arts. From an early age, she was able to study art and performance, which helped her develop a unique, creative voice. From there, she studied art in undergrad and began her career in arts administration, working at various galleries, museums, and artist residency centers, before starting her own personal genealogy research project.
“I transitioned from art to archives, in a sense,” she says.
Part of the reason she chose Syracuse was because the university allowed her to continue working full-time while attending school, something she calls a major convenience. Another deciding factor was the roster of professors and coursework.
“The program highlighted many interests of mine, while offering instruction from leaders in the library world,” she says. “I knew it would be beneficial to learn from some of the best in the field. I was thoroughly impressed with my experience, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in advancing their career in library and information studies.”
Henderson especially enjoyed classes taught by professors Arden Kirkland, Beth Patin and Marilyn Arnone.
“Their courses really delved into topics that apply to major aspects of my work, and I appreciate their teaching styles,” Henderson says. “The assignments in their courses shaped my understanding of certain professional practices that I can appreciate now as I navigate the library world. I loved my experience with Syracuse.”