Kimberly Henderson

Kimberly in a black shirt
Digital Curator at the New York Public Library Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art with Minors in Art History, Women/Gender Studies, and Psychology, UNC Charlotte (2013)
Master in Library and Information Sciences, Syracuse University (2021)

Hometown: Durham, N.C.

Kimberly Henderson's love for art started at a young age in school.

"I attended an arts middle and high school, and that was my introduction to art and sparked my interest in the field," she says. Kimberly continued to dive deep into this love as she went through middle and high school and eventually decided to attend UNC Charlotte to further her education in art. Her desire to pursue art as a career solidified during her time at Charlotte, she says. "My UNC Charlotte education laid the foundation for my professional experience and career trajectory."

Kimberly is now the Digital Curator at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. "I'm responsible for facilitating digital projects that digitally highlight our 11 million archival collection materials," she says. Among the highlights of her many tasks: "In 2021, I was given the opportunity to curate photography for the 1619 Project  by Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times."

Kimberly recently debuted a children's picture book entitled Dear Yesteryear, published by Penguin Random House in March 2023. The book, which pairs African American portraiture from the late 1800s and early 1900s with poetic letters, started in 2020 as an Instagram repository of the archival images. The Instagram account, @emalineandthem, has nearly 46,000 followers.

"One of my paternal great great great grandmothers was named Emaline, and she disappears from formal record prior to 1870," Kimberly writes about the project. "Like many African Americans of the time, she appears on the first U.S Federal Census after the emancipation proclamation; which is often the first formal record that recognizes the freedom of the formerly enslaved who were gaining their independence and finding success in their own doing. I research and share these photographs in honor of them. Countering the anonymity of enslavement, increasing the representation of Black Americans from this time period in history, and reclaiming {our} images."

Early reviews of the book have been strong. School Library Journal called Dear Yesteryear "moving and profound":  ‚ÄúLyrical text pairs expertly with chosen images, emphasizing historical Black joy and accomplishments, while simultaneously connecting to the present. This book will irrefutably provide invaluable opportunities for readers to delve into their own family or cultural histories."  Read an author chat with Kimberly about her book here.

Soon after her graduation from UNC Charlotte, Kimberly worked at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the McColl Center before leaving Charlotte for the Big Apple. She had stints with the public radio show This American Life and the Margaret Thatcher Projects contemporary art gallery before landing the position at the Schomburg Center in 2021.

Her exciting decade of career discovery is reflected in her advice for current students: "Experiment! Be curious! Be true to yourself in all of your work, and your dedication and talents will create space for you in this world."