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November 11, 2020
The Henry Ford Reaches Milestone with 100,000 Artifacts Digitized
(Dearborn, Mich. – Nov. 11, 2020) – For nearly a decade, The Henry Ford has worked to digitize its unparalleled collection of artifacts that tell the story of America’s traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation in order to make them more accessible, to educate and inspire those around the world. Today, the organization is proud to announce that it has reached the important milestone of digitizing its 100,000th artifact, a photograph of the 100,000th Fordson Tractor. The Henry Ford is using this opportunity during the month of November to celebrate, giving guests a behind-the-scenes look at the digitization process and counting down the most popular digitized artifacts in the collection with the hashtag #digitization100K.
“If you’ve visited our website, read a blog post, shared a social media story from our channels, or simply walked through the museum, you’ve encountered the work of our digitization team.” said Patricia Mooradian, president and CEO, The Henry Ford. “Digitization has opened our doors to guests far beyond what we could have ever imagined. People can now view the Rosa Parks bus, the Wright Cycle Shop or Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory from anywhere in the world at any time they choose.”
The Henry Ford’s initial digitization efforts were funded through a generous gift from Lynn and Paul Alandt and Benson Ford, Jr., on behalf of the Benson and Edith Ford Fund. The institution’s first collections website only included 500 artifacts – the very first being a 1929 Ford Model A Coupe used by Henry Ford.
Once an artifact is selected for digitization, it is taken to conservation if any cleaning, special handling or more extensive treatments are deemed necessary before it is photographed. Our registrars work to populate descriptive information in our collections database regarding the object, including the type of artifact, its date, material, dimensions, creator and ownership details. It is either photographed or scanned, depending on format, size, fragility and other considerations. For many objects, the curatorial team drafts a summary that gives you a quick overview of the artifact’s historical significance. After a final review and approval step, the artifact’s images and cataloging information are loaded to our Digital Collections on thf.org for viewing.
As an institution that holds artifacts in the public trust, The Henry Ford has always cared for and documented items in its collection. The expansion of digital channels over the past decade has expanded access to the fascinating and significant stories housed within its collection. According to the Pew Research Center, at the time when The Henry Ford started to digitize its collection, one-quarter of Americans did not use the Internet, only 4 of 10 Americans participated in social media, and the American smartphone was just starting to take off. In the last 18 months alone, however, online visitors have viewed The Henry Ford’s digitized artifact pages more than one million times.
With more than 26 million artifacts in its collection, The Henry Ford still has many more milestones ahead. Due to the impact of its 16-week closure and reduced operations, The Henry Ford is facing unprecedented financial challenges. To help the institution during this time, including its digitization program, consider donating at thf.org/donate. Longtime supporters of The Henry Ford will match your donation dollar for dollar, so your contribution will have double the impact.
About The Henry Ford Located in Dearborn, Michigan, The Henry Ford, a globally recognized destination, fosters inspiration and learning from hands-on encounters with artifacts that represent the most comprehensive collection anywhere focusing on innovation, ingenuity and resourcefulness in America. Its unique venues include Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Benson Ford Research Center and Henry Ford Academy, a public charter high school. Together with its online presence at thf.org, its national television series The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation and Invention Convention Worldwide, the growing affiliation of organizations fostering innovation, invention and entrepreneurship in K-12 students, The Henry Ford inspires individuals to unlock their potential and help shape a better future.