The experts at The Henry Ford have carefully created these sets. Explore a specific topic or use these as a foundation for building your own collection.
In October 2018, The Henry Ford reached 75,000 artifacts digitized. While this represents just a small fraction of our total collection, the vast majority of the material that has been digitized is not currently on exhibit--which gives you access to materials that might otherwise be hard or impossible to view. In honor of this milestone, members of the digitization team each selected a favorite artifact they have been involved with digitizing.
Henry Ford bought the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad in 1920. He used its 378-mile mainline -- between Detroit and Ironton, Ohio -- as a giant conveyor belt, hauling coal from Ford-owned mines to the Rouge in Dearborn. Ford spent $15 million improving DT&I's track and equipment but grew tired of burdensome railroad regulations. He sold the line in 1929.
For more than a century, railroad stations were hubs of American life. In small towns, people visited the depot to catch up on news, send and receive packages, or share the latest gossip. In large cities, the station hosted a mix of daily commuters and long-distance travelers rushing to work or play. These lively buildings were as vibrant and varied as the communities they served.
Beginning in 2017, The Henry Ford began a multi-year project to catalog, conserve, rehouse, and relocate a group of some 2,500 objects. Long-hidden stories have come to light during this process--opening up new interpretative opportunities. This project, funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), continues The Henry Ford's commitment to collection stewardship, preservation, and key institutional priorities.
Despite the vast acreage of exhibit space that comprises the campuses of The Henry Ford, most of our assets reside in storage. The Henry Ford's loan program allows audiences from around the world who may never be able to visit Dearborn to connect with our collections. We collaborate with local, national, and international institutions to provide artifacts that tell America's innovation story to inspire learners and doers everywhere.
Every American automaker turned its workforce and facilities to military production during World War II. But no project captured the public's imagination like Willow Run, where Ford Motor Company built one B-24 Liberator airplane every 63 minutes. The plant was the embodiment of America's "Arsenal of Democracy" -- the enormous manufacturing capacity so vital to the Allies' victory.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Americans worried about labor shortages caused by men leaving their work to join the military. Would enough laborers remain on the home front to harvest crops to feed troops and civilians? Private groups like the Women's Land Army and the Women's National Farm and Garden Association trained women to tend the country's farms and gardens. They provided critical support to the federal war effort.
Horse-drawn delivery wagons remained in use well into the automobile age. Even in the 1920s, it wasn't unusual to see milk, ice, or produce delivered by horse--especially in smaller towns. Horses were well suited to the frequent stops and starts along a route and could negotiate poor roads better than early motorized vehicles. As roads improved and trucks became less expensive to operate and maintain, the horse-drawn delivery wagon faded away.