The Most Popular Digital Collection Artifacts of 2017
50 artifacts in this set
Inside this bus on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a soft-spoken African-American seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white man, breaking existing segregation laws. The flawless character and quiet strength she exhibited successfully ignited action in others. For this, many believe Rosa Parks' act was the event that sparked the Civil Rights movement.
The Quadricycle was Henry Ford's first attempt to build a gasoline-powered automobile. It utilized commonly available materials: angle iron for the frame, a leather belt and chain drive for the transmission, and a buggy seat. Ford had to devise his own ignition system. He sold his Quadricycle for $200, then used the money to build his second car.
This is Henry Ford's first race car. After his first auto company failed, Ford turned to racing to restore his reputation. He raced "Sweepstakes" against Alexander Winton on October 10, 1901, and, to everyone's surprise, the novice Ford beat the established Winton. The victory and resulting publicity encouraged financiers to back Ford's second firm.
In April 1987 at Talladega, Alabama, Bill Elliott drove this car to the fastest official lap ever run by a stock car when he qualified for the Winston 500 at 212.809 mph. In July Elliott returned to Talladega and won the Talladega 500 in the same car. The term "stock car" originally meant a car from a dealer's stock -- one that was unmodified. For many years racing stock cars were indeed based on real production automobiles. By 1987, however,...
It's an old auto industry cliche -- "you can't sell a young man an old man's car, but you can sell an old man a young man's car." It's also true. The sporty Mustang was a young man's -- and woman's -- car. The under-30 crowd loved it. But older people also bought them, often as a second car. The Mustang hit a sweet spot in the market, appealing to a wide range of buyers.
Graduates of Ford's English School wearing their "native dress" descend into a large pot labeled "The American Melting Pot." After going through a virtual smelting process, the immigrant's identity was boiled away, leaving a new citizen to emerge from the pot wearing American clothes and waving American flags. In an attempt to address the need to integrate growing numbers of foreign workers at Ford's Highland Park Plant, the company...
Cotswold Cottage is from the Cotswold Hills in southwest England. The Fords were attracted to the distinctive character of Cotswold buildings, which are characterized by the yellow-brown stone, tall gables, steeply pitched roofs, and stone ornamentation around windows and doors. Several decorative additions were made to the house in England, before dismantling and re-erecting it in Greenfield Village.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway's massive Allegheny, introduced in 1941, represents the peak of steam technology. Among the largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever built, it weighed 1.2 million pounds with its tender and could generate 7,500 horsepower. Just 11 years later, though, the C&O began pulling these giants from service. Diesel locomotives proved more flexible and less expensive.
Henry Ford acquired the Wright brothers' home and cycle shop and relocated the buildings from Dayton, Ohio, to his Dearborn, Michigan, museum complex in 1937. Ford placed the structures right next to each other in Greenfield Village. In Dayton, the buildings had been located a few blocks apart.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in this car on November 22, 1963. The midnight blue, un-armored convertible was rebuilt with a permanent roof, titanium armor plating, and more somber black paint. The limousine returned to the White House and remained in service until 1977. The modified car shows the fundamental ways in which presidential security changed after Kennedy's death.
Longer than a Duesenberg. Twice the horsepower of a Rolls-Royce. More costly than both put together. The Bugatti Royale was the ultimate automobile, making its owners feel like kings. Not only did it do everything on a grander scale than the world's other great luxury cars, it was also rare. Bugatti built only six Royales, whereas there were 481 Model J Duesenbergs and 1767 Phantom II Rolls-Royces.
After building this massive car Henry Ford was reluctant to drive it, so he hired a fearless bicycle racer named Barney Oldfield. Oldfield won many races at the controls of "999" and would go on to become America's first nationally famous race driver. The success of "999" would help Ford promote his next venture, Ford Motor Company. This car represents the triumph of brute force over finesse. The huge 1155 cu. in. engine is mounted in a wood...
Although the 1927 Model T, like this one, and its 1909 ancestor look radically different due to many styling changes, the basic elements that made the Model T a technological innovation and cultural phenomenon - a simple 4-cylinder engine, planetary transmission, the black body, and a flexible and strong chassis - had become liabilities in the automobile market. Consumers were no longer satisfied with just a basic car. Americans demanded...
This car was built to win the world's most important sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by American legends Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, it accomplished its goal in 1967, beating the second place Ferrari by 32 miles at a record-breaking average speed of 135.48 miles per hour. The chassis was built of an aluminum honeycomb material borrowed from aircraft practice, while the body shape is the result of hours of wind tunnel testing....
Churches were a center of community life in the 1700s, a place where townspeople came together to attend services and socialize. The Martha-Mary Chapel, with its architecture inspired by New England's colonial-era churches, was built in Greenfield Village in 1929. This chapel was named after Henry Ford's mother, Mary Litogot Ford, and his mother-in-law, Martha Bench Bryant.
So called "safety" bicycles like this one-chain drive bikes with both wheels the same size superceded the fast but dangerous high-wheeler bikes in the early 1890s. Easier to ride than the high-wheelers, faster than walking, cheaper and more convenient than a horse and buggy, safety bicycles allowed unprecedented freedom and personal mobility. They helped whet the public's appetite for the even greater (but much more expensive) freedom and...
When Edison moved to Menlo Park, New Jersey in spring of 1876 the laboratory building contained his entire operation -- a handful of collaborators, office, library, and machine shop as well as laboratory. As the scale of Edison's investigations grew so did the complex, but this building -- dedicated to experimental activities -- was always understood to be the heart of the enterprise.
By 1947, Henry Ford had assembled a collection of nearly 90 historic and reproduction buildings in Greenfield Village. Ford had established the Edison Institute as a teaching institution in 1929, but relented to public demand and began admitting visitors in 1933. This map shows some efforts to accommodate increasing attendance figures, including a gatehouse, lunch wagon, and rest rooms.
Pixar is celebrated for its animation--but the company's origins began with computer hardware. In 1984, they created the Pixar Imaging Computer (PIC)--a groundbreaking device aimed towards high-end graphics and animation. The PIC was used within medical and scientific industries--and for the iconic ballroom scene in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. This improved PII was released in 1987.
When Ford Motor Company introduced its new Model T on October 1, 1908 it was a text book example of the right product at the right time. Using lightweight but strong vanadium steel, a modern engine, and an innovative suspension system designed for the awful roads typical of America at the time, the Model T was a great value at $850. By the end of 1913 Ford's efforts to increase production had produced the moving assembly line and driven the...
Tattoos communicate stories. Their content ranges from deeply personal and traditional--to regrettable and frivolous. In the early 1900s, "Professor" Waters apprenticed as a tattoo artist in carnivals and New York's Bowery District. He ran a successful supply shop in Detroit (1918-1939), patenting the standard "two-coil" tattoo machine in 1929. Designs from his flash sheets continue to inspire tattooists today.
This FMC motorhome carried a three-man TV crew on America's back roads, where they took time "to meet people, listen to yarns, and feel the seasons change." The CBS-produced show, On the Road, featured Charles Kuralt's superbly crafted stories about ordinary people who were often quite extraordinary. It was a novel idea that lasted 27 years from 1967 to 1994.
Igor Sikorsky, as a young man in Russia, tried unsuccessfully to build a helicopter in 1909. He went on to build fixed-wing aircraft but returned to helicopters in 1938. Within three years, he had developed the first practical helicopter in the United States: the VS-300A.
In 1928, Henry Ford established Fordlandia in the Brazilian rainforest to supply rubber for automobile production. Ford hired indigenous workers to clear the forest, plant rubber trees and build infrastructure. Though he paid good wages, Ford also imposed foreign work traditions and behavioral restrictions which the workers resented. Workers revolted against Ford's managers on several occasions during the first years of operations.
On April 13, 1934, Ford Motor Company received this unusual product testimonial. In it notorious bank robber Clyde Barrow extolled the virtues of Ford V-8s as getaway cars. Handwriting analysts have questioned the letter's authenticity, but it is the sort of thing the publicity-seeking Barrow might have written.
Letter written to Henry Ford from the wife of an assembly line worker, January 23, 1914. The woman writes asking Henry Ford to investigate the situation on the assembly lines in the factories with regard to working conditions. She is angry about the treatment her husband receives on the job.
Rocking Chair Used by Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre the Night of His Assassination, April 14, 1865
President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in this rocking chair during a production of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC when he was assassinated on April 14, 1865. Henry Ford purchased the chair in 1929 for the Museum, where it remains one of the most revered objects associated with the "man who saved the Union."
This is one of the seminal cars in American racing history. In 1965 Scotsman Jimmy Clark drove this car to victory in the Indianapolis 500. A few years earlier legendary road-racer Dan Gurney concluded that the proper application of European formula-one technology could capture the Indianapolis 500. He brought Ford Motor Company together with Colin Chapman, English builder of Lotus sports and racing cars. The combination resulted in a...
Henry Ford built his first experimental engine using scrap metal for parts. He tested it on the kitchen sink after supper on December 24, 1893. For ignition he ran a wire from the ceiling's light bulb. His wife, Clara, hand fed the gasoline to the intake valve while Henry spun the flywheel. The engine roared into action, shaking the sink.
President Ronald Reagan was getting into this car when he was shot by John Hinckley on March 30, 1981. The car carried Reagan to the hospital. Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and George H.W. Bush also used this car. In 1982 the front sheet metal was updated, but since a 1982 grille no longer fit properly on the 1972 body, a 1979 grille was used.
The Ford Tri-Motor was the most popular airliner of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Its rugged dependability led Richard Byrd to choose a Tri-Motor for his attempt to be the first person to fly over the South Pole. On November 28-29, 1929, Byrd and a crew of three achieved that goal in this plane.
This test tube was one of several that Charles Edison noticed standing open in a rack in the bedroom in which his father had just died in 1931. The attending physician was asked to seal the tubes, one of which Charles later sent on to Henry Ford who kept it with other Edison mementos at his home, Fair Lane.
Colorful carousels were at the height of their popularity during the early 1900s and could be found all across America in amusement parks, city parks, and seaside resorts. Built in 1913, this "menagerie" carousel's hand-carved animals include storks, goats, zebras, dogs, and even a frog. Although its original location is uncertain, this carousel operated in Spokane, Washington, from 1923 to 1961.
After his first two attempts at commercial auto-making failed, Henry Ford found success with the Ford Motor Company, established in 1903. The firm's first product, the Model A, was conventional by the standards of the day. It featured a two-cylinder engine mounted under the seat and rear wheels driven by a chain.
This short biography reveals James O'Connor's history with the Ford Motor Company. After starting work in a paint shop at a young age, O'Connor progressed through the employment ranks to become the final assembly line foreman in B building of the Ford Rouge Plant.
In 1908 George Robertson drove this car to victory in the Vanderbilt Cup, America's first great automobile race. It marked the first time an American car had won a major international road race in the United States. Built at a cost of $20,000 (at a time when a decent house could be had for $1,500), the Locomobile set the fastest lap in the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup, but repeated tire failures resulted in a tenth place finish. There was no race in...
Indiana farmwife Susan McCord made this stunningly beautiful quilt -- indisputably her masterpiece. This trailing vine design is a McCord original. McCord pieced together printed and solid cotton fabric scraps to create the over 300 leaves on each of the thirteen vine panels. McCord used variations of this vine in the borders of several quilts. But McCord's vine design is rendered to perfection in this work of genius.
Enslaved African Americans built and lived in these brick quarters on the Hermitage Plantation, located just north of the city of Savannah in a rice-growing region. Owned by Henry McAlpin, in 1850 this prosperous plantation had 200 enslaved workers who lived in about 50 similar buildings. These enslaved workers cultivated rice, and also manufactured bricks, rice barrels, cast iron products, and lumber.
The Menlo Park complex was an all-male environment; the closest workaday involvement of women -- not forgetting that Edison and several of his personnel were married -- was at the Sarah Jordan boardinghouse. Offering room and board for unmarried employees at the complex, it was operated by Sarah Jordan, a distant relative of Edison's. The house also played host to the experimental lighting system installed throughout Menlo Park in December...
Ford's Model T mass production system would not have been practical without electricity; by 1919 nine of these Ford-designed hybrid internal combustion/steam engines generated the power needed by the Highland Park plant's assembly lines and associated machinery. By 1926 the engines were rendered obsolete when electricity was fed from the power plant at Ford's River Rouge plant ten miles away.
In January 1926, Ernest Kanzler wrote this eight-page memorandum to Henry Ford. In it Kanzler detailed his reasoning for replacing the aging Model T. While many other executives, including Ford's son, Edsel, secretly agreed, Henry resisted. Kanzler was forced out -- although the following year the last Model T rolled off the assembly line and was replaced with the new, modern Model A.
This house was constructed about 1823 in New Haven, Connecticut. The floor plan was devised by the Webster family in consultation with a local builder. The home was arranged to accommodate two elderly people who found large, drafty rooms and stair climbing a hardship. Noah was nearly sixty five when he moved in, bringing his wife Rebecca, four of his seven children, and a free black servant.
By 1920, Henry and Clara Ford found it increasingly difficult to travel with any degree of privacy. They purchased a private railcar and named it Fair Lane. The car had four private rooms, an observation lounge, a dining room and a fully equipped kitchen. It could accommodate eight passengers. The couple made over 400 trips using Fair Lane before selling the passenger car in 1942.
This massive convertible Lincoln was built for President Harry S Truman in 1950, but it is most associated with Truman's successor Dwight D. Eisenhower, who used the car from 1952 until 1960. Eisenhower added the distinctive plastic "bubble top." Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson also used this car as a spare until its retirement in 1967.
Henry Ford began restoration of his Dearborn, Michigan, birthplace in 1919. He repaired or replaced the farm buildings and filled the small, white clapboard house with original or similar furnishings he remembered from his boyhood. He dedicated the restoration to the memory of his beloved mother, Mary Litogot Ford, who died in 1876. In 1944, the house and outbuildings were moved to Greenfield Village.
In 1970, the Henry Ford Museum purchased what was believed to be a rare and remarkable 17th century armchair. In 1977, a story broke about a woodworker who attempted to demonstrate his skill by making a similar chair that would fool the experts. Analysis proved the Museum's chair was the woodworker's modern fake. Today, the Museum views the chair as an educational tool. Does it fool you?
In November 1965 this sleek car flashed across Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats to break the world speed record for wheel-driven (as opposed to jet or rocket powered) cars. One key to its success was its long, slim shape that minimized wind resistance. The other key was the clever engineering that packed four Chrysler "Hemi" engines and the machinery to drive all four wheels inside that slim shape. Goldenrod's record of 409.277 miles per hour...