Henry Austin Clark, Jr. Photograph Collection

Biographical / Historical Note

Henry Austin Clark Jr. was born in 1917 and from an early age showed a near-obsession for automobiles. While attending Harvard in the late 1930s, Clark purchased his first classic automobile starting a collection that would, by the late 1970s total over...

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Henry Austin Clark Jr. was born in 1917 and from an early age showed a near-obsession for automobiles. While attending Harvard in the late 1930s, Clark purchased his first classic automobile starting a collection that would, by the late 1970s total over 200 vintage and classic "brass-era" automobiles, trucks and fire trucks. After naval service during World War II and marriage, Clark and his wife Waleta ("Wally") moved to Southampton, NY and settled into a life of collecting, rallies and tours, and raising a family. Clark's collection of cars outgrew the sheds and garages on the estate leading him to open the Long Island Automotive Museum in 1948, in large part to house his collection. Over the next thirty years, Clark bought, sold and traded cars, parts and accessories and entertained visitors and fellow enthusiasts at the museum and at vintage car club events and tours. By the late 1970s however, the museum's operating losses forced Clark to begin selling many of his precious automobiles. In 1979, over two hundred automobiles were auctioned off and a year later the museum was shuttered. Throughout his life Clark also collected hundreds of thousands of photographs, slides, negatives, magazines, advertisements, clippings, and programs related to the history of the automobile. Henry Austin Clark, Jr. passed away on December 15, 1991 the day after his precious collection of automotive history began to be moved to the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford.

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Scope and Content Note

The Henry Austin Clark Photograph collection is made up of four subgroups. The PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS SUBGROUP, the PHOTOGRAPH ALBUMS SUBGROUP, the NEGATIVES SUBGROUP and the MOTION PICTURES SUBGROUP.

The PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS SUBGROUP is made up of 13 series.

The Accidents series, 1900-1979 (0.4 cubic ft.), contains prints of automobile accidents and wrecked vehicles and is arranged chronologically.

The Automobiles series, 1853-1980 (14.8 cubic ft.) is made up of two subseries; the General subseries, 1853-1980 includes photo prints of various automobiles and is arranged alphabetically by make or model, and the Unidentified automobiles subseries, circa 1910-1960, includes unidentified photo prints of automobiles.

The Automotive Reference Copy Photographs series, circa 1903-1950 (3 oversize boxes) is made up of 3" x 4" copy prints of automobiles. The copy prints are arranged alphabetically and include basic identification information including manufacturer, model and year.

The Commercial Vehicles series, circa 1895-1950 (2 cubic ft.) is made up of photographic images of commercial vehicles including trucks, ambulances, busses, fire trucks, hearses, horse drawn vehicles and taxies. The images are arranged alphabetically by type of truck.

The Events series, circa 1900-1988 (2.8 cubic ft.) automotive and automobile-related public events including automobile shows and exhibitions, collector meets, parades, road rallies and competition tours. The prints are arranged alphabetically by event type and then chronologically.

The Framed Prints series, undated (2 oversize boxes) contains larger format framed photographic images and the Mounted Prints series, undated (2 oversize boxes) contains larger format mounted prints.

The Motoring series, undated (0.2 cubic ft) consists of images, photographs and copy prints showing automobiles in use on streets, highways and roadways.

The Parts series, circa 1895-1965 (0.2 cubic ft.) is made up of copy prints and photographs of various parts and assemblies of different vehicles. The series is arranged alphabetically by part or subject.

The Personalities series, circa 1910-1960 (0.8 cubic ft.) includes photographs of myriad individuals related to the automobile industry. Subjects include Gottlieb Daimler, President Calvin Coolidge, Roy D. Chapin, John and Horace Dodge, William Durant, Henry Ford and Eddie Rickenbacker. The series is arranged alphabetically by last name.

The Non-Automotive Subjects series, circa 1896-1940 (0.4 cubic ft.) consists of images of various forms of motor transport including agricultural vehicles, aircraft, campers, military vehicles, motorcycles and close-up details of automotive parts. The series is arranged alphabetically by topic or subject.

The Places series, circa 1900-1980 (0.4 cubic ft.), contains photo images of various locations related to automobile history including Henry Austin Clark's Long Island Automotive Museum, Ormond Beach and Sag Harbor, Maine. The series is arranged alphabetically by location or topic.

The Racing series, 1894-1978 (3.6 cubic ft.) is made up of three subseries. The Race Cars subseries, contains images of various racing cars and is arranged alphabetically by car. The Drivers subseries consists of headshots and portraits of drivers in cars. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by driver name. The Races subseries is made up of race day, track-action shots of various races. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by race or track.

The Stereographic Cards series, 1 oversize box is made up of paperboard-backed color and black-and-white stereographic image depicting a wide array of topics beyond automobiles and automobile culture.

The PHOTOGRAPH ALBUMS SUBGROUP, 1896-1980 (114 oversize boxes) is made up of three series encompassing nearly 200 photo albums acquired or compiled by Henry Austin Clark Jr. that collectively illustrate and document the development and popularization of the automobile. Although wide-ranging in scope, topics include early automobile races, exhibitions and auto shows and manufacturing.

The Commissioned Photographs series, circa 1896-1957 is made up of photographs and photo reprints purchased or borrowed by Henry Austin Clark Jr. Topics and subjects include automobile shows and exhibitions, automobiles, and commercial vehicles.

The Copy Photographs series contains copy prints of photographs, negatives, illustrations and published images. Each box holds two to three albums. Each album contains images covering a wide variety of topics, subjects and events related to automobiles, races, individuals, manufacturers and events. Clark devised a numbering system for the photographs which he copied. Approximately half of the photo albums in this subseries are numbered with Co numbers Co64 to Co7564. These are arranged in consecutive order in the albums. Due to this ordering system, the albums cover a broad range of subjects. The remaining albums comprising this subseries are arranged by subject. These albums seem to have been copied in their entirety from an individual or organization, and were not necessarily assigned a Co. number. Often the photographic prints were assigned numbers based on the photographer who made the image or the subject depicted. For example, photographic prints numbered with the prefix NYP are images depicting an automobile race which ran from New York to Paris in the early part of the twentieth century.

The Vintage Photographs series consists of photo albums acquired by Henry Austin Clark. The photographic prints in these albums depict many of the early automobile races and tours of the world. Among the races depicted in the photographic prints are the Gordon Bennett Race (1903), the Paris-Madrid Race (1908), and the Vanderbilt Cup Race (1905-1906). Tours include a series of albums on the Glidden Tour (1905-1946), and a large number of albums documenting Charles J. Glidden's tour of the world in a motor car (1903-1908). These albums show the experiences and people encountered on this multi-year tour of the world in an automobile. Among the locations that Glidden drove through are Europe, North America, Egypt, Arabia, China, Burma, Java, New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico.

The NEGATIVES SUBGROUP is made up of four series.

The Copy Negatives series (16 oversize boxes) consists of large format copy negatives (generally 3"x 4") of images, photographs and photographic prints acquired or borrowed by Henry Austin Clark, Jr. The Copy Negatives are primarily automobile related but there are also negatives of the Long Island Automobile Museum and personal material. Copy Negatives are labeled with the following identification code: Co (signifying "copy") followed by a number between 1 and 7565. Please note that copy prints of most of the negatives in this series may be found in the Photograph Albums subgroup, Copy Photographs series.

The Alpha-Numeric Negatives series (20 oversize boxes) is made up of additional photo negatives taken by Henry Austin Clark, Jr. and include personal photos of his family, friends and events and vintage automobile shows in which he participated. In addition, there are photos of automobiles and automobile-related materials from Clark's collections or copied from other collections. There is some overlap in subject matter with the Copy Negatives. The negatives in this series are identified by an alpha-numeric code followed by numbers 1 through 12. In addition, the Alpha-prefix range extends beyond Z and include AA, AB, AC and so on until ADW.

Topical Negatives series contains four subseries. The Vanderbilt Cup races and albums subseries (1 oversize box) contains negatives from the 1904, 1905, 1906 Elimination, 1906, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1936, and 1937 Vanderbilt Cup Races. The Vanderbilt Cup Race negatives are labeled "V-04-XX", the middle two digits are for the year of the race and the last digit(s) are the negative numbers. These are copy negatives made by HAC or photographs he collected or borrowed. In addition there are photographs from two William K. Vanderbilt Jr. Albums, marked "vblt 1a through 51c" (the lowercase letter stands for the four locations on the album page, "a" through "d") and "vblt 1 through 29." Finally, the box contains miscellaneous Vanderbilt negatives and prints from two unidentified races. The Manufacturers subseries (1 oversize box) contains negatives and contact prints of automobiles arranged alphabetically by automobile manufacturer. The Events and Races subseries (1 oversize box) includes negatives, contact prints and copy prints of various races and automobile-related events (shows, exhibitions, tours and meets). The negatives are irregularly identified and numbered. The General Topics and Subjects subseries (5 oversize boxes) contains negatives of various individuals or subjects related to early automobiles and racing. Not all negatives are numbered or identified. The subseries includes negatives and contact prints of Clark's family, public and club events, various vehicles displayed at the Long Island Automobile Museum, along with some unidentified and undated prints and color negatives used by Clark and the staff at the Long Island Automobile Museum to produce postcards sold by the museum. There are also negatives and contact prints for the 1909 Denver to Mexico Pathfinder tour that took place from May 1 to June 3, 1909 and the 1950, 1954 and 1956 Glidden Tours.

The Transparencies series, circa 1866-1970s and undated (14 oversize boxes), consists of larger format copy negatives of automobile models and makes. The negatives are arranged in sequential order based on a numeric filing system created by Henry Austin Clark Jr. The format, nnn-nn starts with the first three digits signifying a base prefix between 001 and 520. The last two digits indicate the individual negatives and range from 01-25. There is an index to the transparencies in Box 242.

The 1908 New York to Paris Race series (5 oversize boxes) is made up of glass plate negatives documenting the 169-day endurance and reliability race. The series is divided into geographic locations that follow the final route taken by the competitors. A handwritten index of image titles/subjects is included in the series and foldered separately.

The Motion Pictures subgroup consists of 18 films depicting automobile races, events, promotions and safety presentations. Digital copies of the motion pictures are available for viewing in the Benson Ford Research Center Reading Room.

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Collection Details

Object ID: 92.1.1774.0
Creator: Clark, Henry Austin Jr., 1917-1991 
Inclusive Dates: 1896-1975
Size: 25.6 cubic ft and 185 oversize boxes
Language: English

Collection Access & Use

Item Location: Benson Ford Research Center

Access Restrictions: The collection is open for research.

Credit: From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Digitized Artifacts From This Collection

In many cases, not all artifacts have been digitized.
Contact us for more information about this collection.

1904 White Steamer Stopped to Take on Water from a Horse Trough

  Details

1904 White Steamer Stopped to Take on Water from a Horse Trough

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Steam engines powered the earliest cars, and steam vehicles outsold gasoline-powered cars into the 1900s. Steam power was safe, reliable, and familiar to Americans, although the range of steam-powered automobiles was limited by the amount of fuel and water they could carry. This resourceful driver stopped for water at a horse trough, part of the existing transportation infrastructure.

Creators

Mecham, Albert 

Object ID

P.1774.X.122

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

1904 White Steamer Stopped to Take on Water from a Horse Trough

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

1948 Tucker Sedan inside Pettit's Museum of Motoring Memories, Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1956-1964

  Details

1948 Tucker Sedan inside Pettit's Museum of Motoring Memories, Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1956-1964

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Postcard

Date Made

1956-1964

Object ID

92.1.1774.586

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

1948 Tucker Sedan inside Pettit's Museum of Motoring Memories, Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1956-1964

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

1948 Tucker Sedan inside Pettit's Museum of Motoring Memories, Natural Bridge, Virginia, December 1961

  Details

1948 Tucker Sedan inside Pettit's Museum of Motoring Memories, Natural Bridge, Virginia, December 1961

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

December 1961

Object ID

92.1.1774.585

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

1948 Tucker Sedan inside Pettit's Museum of Motoring Memories, Natural Bridge, Virginia, December 1961

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

A. J. Banta and Escort Cars Leading the Italian Zust Race Car into Chicago during the New York to Paris Race, 1908

  Details

A. J. Banta and Escort Cars Leading the Italian Zust Race Car into Chicago during the New York to Paris Race, 1908

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Lantern slide

Summary

In 1908, six automobiles raced around the globe from New York City to Paris, France. The contest took 169 days, covered 22,000 miles and spanned three continents. The cars and their racing teams had to endure cold, snow, mud, poor roads and other hardships. The race began in mid-February and snow hampered the contestants' progress through the first weeks.

Object ID

92.1.1774.37

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

A. J. Banta and Escort Cars Leading the Italian Zust Race Car into Chicago during the New York to Paris Race, 1908

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

"A Stop at a Russian Military Post" for the Thomas Flyer, New York to Paris Race, 1908

  Details

"A Stop at a Russian Military Post" for the Thomas Flyer, New York to Paris Race, 1908

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Lantern slide

Summary

The 1908 New York to Paris race was a 22,000-mile automobile endurance contest. Teams would have to drive their cars through cold, snow and rain and usually on poor roads. After leaving Vladivostok, Russia in May, the cars followed the Trans-Siberian Railway. A series of Russian army garrisons along the route protected and greeted the teams as they passed.

Creators

Unknown 

Object ID

92.1.1774.136

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

"A Stop at a Russian Military Post" for the Thomas Flyer, New York to Paris Race, 1908

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Abrupt Turn for the Thomas Flyer on a Village Street in Japan, New York to Paris Race, 1908

  Details

Abrupt Turn for the Thomas Flyer on a Village Street in Japan, New York to Paris Race, 1908

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Lantern slide

Summary

The 1908 New York to Paris race was a 22,000-mile automobile endurance contest. After crossing the continental United States, teams shipped their vehicles to Asia. The Americans, driving a Thomas Flyer, disembarked in Japan in early May. As the Flyer and crew trekked carefully over the narrow Japanese roads, they encountered many inquisitive, courteous and helpful people.

Object ID

92.1.1774.109

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Abrupt Turn for the Thomas Flyer on a Village Street in Japan, New York to Paris Race, 1908

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Accident Involving Two Vehicles on Snowy Road, circa 1930

  Details

Accident Involving Two Vehicles on Snowy Road, circa 1930

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Automobiles are fast, powerful, and potentially dangerous. Accidents like this wreck, which drew a crowd of onlookers, became more commonplace as automotive speeds and the number of drivers on American roads rapidly increased in the 20th century. Eventually, automobile manufacturers, governments, and drivers themselves were compelled to improve automotive safety.

Creators

Unknown 

Object ID

P.1774.X.134

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Accident Involving Two Vehicles on Snowy Road, circa 1930

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Aftermath of Accident, Automobile in Head-On Collision with Tree, East Hampton, New York, 1929

  Details

Aftermath of Accident, Automobile in Head-On Collision with Tree, East Hampton, New York, 1929

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Automobiles are fast, powerful, and potentially dangerous. Accidents like the wreck pictured here became more commonplace as automotive speeds and the number of drivers on American roads rapidly increased in the 20th century. Eventually, manufacturers, governments, and drivers themselves were compelled to improve automotive safety.

Creators

Unknown 

Object ID

P.1774.X.125

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Aftermath of Accident, Automobile in Head-On Collision with Tree, East Hampton, New York, 1929

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Aftermath of Truck Accident, Many Onlookers, circa 1925

  Details

Aftermath of Truck Accident, Many Onlookers, circa 1925

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Automobiles are fast, powerful, and potentially dangerous. Accidents like this wreck, which drew a crowd of onlookers, became more commonplace as automotive speeds and the number of drivers on American roads rapidly increased in the 20th century. Eventually, automobile manufacturers, governments, and drivers themselves were compelled to improve automotive safety.

Creators

Unknown 

Object ID

P.1774.X.124

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of the Family of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Aftermath of Truck Accident, Many Onlookers, circa 1925

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details