[New York: Underwood & Underwood, 1926 or 1927]. Frontal photograph of Henson [1866-1955] to his waist, in suit and tie. 6-1/2" x 8-1/2." Very Good. With typed caption beneath, on stationery of Underwood and Underwood, with that firm's rubberstamp on the otherwise blank verso.
The Underwood caption reads:
"MATTHEW A. HENSEN [sic], NEGRO WHO SAVED PEARY, OF NORTH
POLE FAME, PROPOSED FOR HONOR MEDAL.
"NEW YORK CITY.- Matthew A. Hensen, negro messenger in the New York City Custom House, who, at the peril of his own life, saved Rear Admiral Peary at the North Pole, is due for belated recognition of his heroism.
"Emanuel Celler, Representative from the Tenth New York District, has sponsored a bill to have the Director of the Mint strike off a suitable medal commemorating Hensen's feat as co-discoverer of the Pole with Peary.
"Mr. Hensen, who resides at 901 Grant Avenue, the Bronx, is the only member of his race to have ever reached the North Pole.
"4022B4- Close-up of Mr. Matthew A. Hensen."
According to the Congressional record, "In 1926 Rep. Emanuel Celler, D., N.Y., tried to get him a $1,700 pension and a Congressional medal for bravery but nothing came of it." [July 12, 1973, page 23483.]
Around 1927 Henson was promoted to Clerk in the Custom House. In 1929, he moved from the Bronx to 246 West 150th Street in Manhattan, and lived there for the rest of his life. The location is now a national landmark. The Underwood firm, according to Wikipedia, was "a pioneer in the field of news bureau photography." The Company, founded in 1881, moved to New York City in 1887; in 1910 it entered the field of news photography, and remained active until the 1940s. Item #37494