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.
On a family road trip in 1951, building developer Kemmons Wilson spent nights in motel rooms that he found to be overpriced and uncomfortable. When the entrepreneur returned home to Memphis, Tennessee, he decided to build his own motel that offered consistent, quality service and amenities at family-friendly prices. Within a few years, Wilson’s Holiday Inns had revolutionized industry standards and become the nation’s largest lodging chain.
Through the 20th century, as Americans showed a preference for traveling long distances by car rather than by railroad, roadside lodgings evolved to meet their needs. From bare-bones tourist cabins and cottages to fully-featured tourist courts and motels, these promised modest rates, convenient car parking, a range of comforts, and a homey atmosphere.
Attributing human characteristics to animals and objects is a natural tendency, and a technique that artists and writers have used for centuries. Personification ascribes human emotions and values to inanimate beings. Anthropomorphism gives things human agency. Depictions appear in a variety of media, and the messages conveyed can be amusing, persuasive, and thought-provoking.
Alexander Girard, renowned mid-20th century architect and designer, used color and pattern joyfully and unselfconsciously in an era of muted minimalism. As the head of Herman Miller’s textile division from 1952 until 1973, he designed over 300 textiles – many which feature surprising color combinations, folk art-inspired graphics, and geometric abstractions. This expert set highlights a few of our artifacts from Girard’s tenure at Herman Miller.
Preston Tucker (1903-1956) and his Tucker 48 inspire admiration -- and debate -- to this day. Tucker built 51 cars before a shortage of money and a surplus of bad publicity closed his company. Some think the Big Three conspired to destroy him. More likely, he was overwhelmed by the enormous cost of building an automobile company from scratch. Tucker raised over $20 million, but probably needed ten times that much to secure his firm's future.
Railroad crossings are dangerous places. Rail companies first protected their busiest crossings with employees who waved flags or lanterns, or lowered gates, when trains came through. Later, automated lights and gates, operated by electrical relays wired to the track, alerted people of approaching trains. The X-shaped crossbuck, which marks public railroad crossings in the United States, is now a universally recognized warning sign.
We add thousands of artifacts to our Digital Collections every year--and every year, these digital artifacts receive thousands of views. Here are the 50 artifacts that were viewed the most in our Digital Collections in 2017, including a variety on display in the Museum and the Village, a few not currently on exhibit, and a number featured on The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation. Are your favorites included?
In October 1934, Jean and Jeannette Piccard set a new altitude record, ascending 10.9 miles in a metal gondola carried by a hydrogen balloon. Jeannette -- the first American woman licensed as a balloonist -- piloted, while Jean gathered scientific data. On this historic flight, Jeannette became the first woman to reach the stratosphere.
“Peanuts” began as a simple comic strip in 1950, but it has come to pervade mass culture through merchandising, advertising, and media. Its continuing appeal can be attributed to Charles Schulz’s endearing characters and their relatable stories.