About Our Digital Collections

Online Access to The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation™

Ever since our founding in 1929, The Henry Ford has been documenting our collections, and for just as long, we’ve been sharing this information with researchers and the general public.  While more than 20,000 artifacts are on public exhibit in Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, Benson Ford Research Center, and Ford Rouge Factory Tour, The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation™ holds many more—about 250,000 objects and millions more photographs and documents within our archives. Our Digital Collections represent our institutional commitment to making these collections, and the ideas behind them, more accessible to more people in more ways than ever.

The Henry Ford began scaling up its collections digitization effort in 2010, bringing in new staff to support required conservation, cataloging, photography, and scanning, as well as to create and maintain the technical infrastructure required for access. Images of tens of thousands of artifacts (a small but ever-growing subset of our entire collection) are now available online, with new objects added on a daily basis (view some of the most recently added artifacts here.  Digitization efforts include artifacts on display within the Museum or Village, new acquisitions, and “hidden” items currently in storage.  In our Digital Collections, you will find everything from a tiny mourning ring to the mighty Allegheny locomotive, from an oral history video clip with an innovation visionary to a group of animal bones.  These artifacts provide an unprecedented window into America’s traditions of resourcefulness, innovation and ingenuity—and into the breadth of our collection.

The tools and features available within our Digital Collections will help you locate specific objects, or just browse, if you wish.  The site offers both simple and advanced searching, allowing you to get as specific as you’d like, and search results can be sorted and filtered for even more pinpointed focus.  Records describing archival collections can be browsed or searched.  Expert sets compiled by our curators and other staff bring together groups of artifacts on various topics and are also browsable or searchable.  On artifact display pages, you can learn more about that artifact, view images, and share the object with others.  For some objects, you can also access audio, video, or 360-degree views, follow links to other related objects, or purchase a high-resolution image. 

The staff of The Henry Ford are passionate about sharing our artifacts and their stories through our Digital Collections.  We invite you to contact us with any comments or questions you might have.