The Most Popular Digital Collections Artifacts of 2018
50 artifacts in this set
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rocking Chair Used by Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater 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."
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...
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.
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.
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...
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,...
World's fairs during the 1930s offered people a prosperous outlook rather than bleak economic realities of the Great Depression -- if they could attend. Images on this ticket book show the buildings of the Chicago's Century of Progress International Exhibition of 1934, highlighted by sun rays.
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.
Button, "You Are the Spark That Started Our Freedom Movement. Thank You Sister Rosa Parks," circa 1988
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her courageous act of protest was considered the spark that ignited the Civil Rights movement. For decades, Martin Luther King Jr.'s fame overshadowed hers. But by the time of this button, Parks was beginning to receive long-overdue recognition.
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.
This 1919 Model T closed-body Sedan represents a significant change in the way Ford produced and marketed the best-selling car. By 1919, Ford Motor Company was producing Model Ts in record numbers and facing stiffer competition by mid and lower-priced makers such as Chevrolet and Dodge Brothers. These competitors met consumer's growing demands for "more car" at a reasonable price and offered greater comfort and convenience at prices only...
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...
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.
Henry Ford was born in this farmhouse on July 30, 1863. The house stood near the corner of present-day Ford and Greenfield Roads in Dearborn. Ford grew up in the house and moved out at age 16 to find work in Detroit. He restored the farmhouse in 1919 and moved it to Greenfield Village in 1944.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nineteenth-century entrepreneurs promised cures with patent medicines. Some of these concoctions, however, contained harmful ingredients or ingredients used in unsafe quantities -- the industry was unregulated and manufacturers were secretive about their recipes. Beginning with the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, national legislation increasingly prohibited misleading health claims and required manufacturers to list their product's contents.
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.
Benjamin and Catherine Firestone raised their three children in this farmhouse, including tire maker Harvey Firestone. Originally located near Columbiana, Ohio, the 1828 house was updated in 1882 to appear more stylish and up-to-date. The traditional Pennsylvania German layout of the Firestone's farmhouse was transformed, with a central foyer, separate dining room and kitchen, a sitting room, closets, wallpaper, and fancy new furniture.
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.
This is the Ford Motor Company record of the very first Model T which was assembled on September 27, 1908 at the Piquette plant in Detroit. The production card lists it as Model 2090, car #1. It had 4 cylinders, 2 levers (the second for reverse) and 2 foot pedals. 1,000 of these early T's were produced.
Pocket watches were the first mechanical devices to catch Henry Ford's fancy. He made his first successful repair at the age of 13, when he removed the casing on schoolmate Albert Hutchings's watch and extracted a sliver from the works. Hutchings's family donated this watch, believed to be the original, to the Henry Ford Museum in 1933.
Henry Ford crafted his ideal car in the Model T. It was rugged, reliable and suited to quantity production. The first 2,500 Model Ts carried gear-driven water pumps rather than the thermosiphon cooling system adopted later. Rarer still, the first 1,000 or so -- like this example -- used a lever rather than a floor pedal to engage reverse.
When Henry Ford introduced the moving assembly line in 1913 he loved it but his employees didn't. The work was boring and relentless, and worker turnover was high. To get workers to stay, Henry more than doubled their pay, from $2.34 per day to $5 per day. It was headline news in Detroit and around the country.
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...
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.
Carl Mayer, nephew of the company's namesake, created the first Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in 1936. In the years since, more than a dozen Wienermobiles have promoted the brand at stores, parades and festivals. Spokesman George Molchan, playing the character "Little Oscar," traveled with the Wienermobile from 1951 to 1987. Today the vehicles are accompanied by college interns known as "hotdoggers."
Two-seater runabouts like this 1906 Ford Model N were favored by middle-class Americans who could afford one. They were fast and rugged. Most runabouts featured one- or two-cylinder engines and bicycle-style chain drives. But this Ford Model N offered four cylinders and a shaft drive, plus it cost less. At $500, it became the bestselling car in America.
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...
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...
Beyond revolutionizing America's industrial production, Henry Ford and other managers at Ford Motor Company instituted a wide-reaching corporate welfare program that opened up the most intimate and personal details of employee's personal, family, and financial life to investigators from the Sociological Department. After the announcement of the $5 per day profit sharing plan in January 1914, Henry Ford wanted to ensure that employees, many of...
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.
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...
Swift & Company's Meat Packing House, Chicago, Illinois, "Splitting Backbones and Final Inspection of Hogs," 1910-1915
At this meat packing operation, a conveyor moved hog carcasses past meat cutters, who then removed various pieces of the animal. To keep Model T production up with demand, Ford engineers borrowed ideas from other industries. Sometime in 1913 they realized that the "disassembly line" principle employed in slaughterhouses could be adapted to building automobiles -- on a moving assembly line.
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.
Ford constantly tweaked Model T assembly lines at its Highland Park plant for efficiency. In 1914, wheels and radiators were conveyed to a platform and slid down ramps for installation on the same line. By 1925, wheels (with tires already mounted and inflated) were conveyed directly to workers, who installed them on both sides of the chassis at once.
In the nineteenth century, schoolchildren used slates to practice handwriting and arithmetic without wasting precious paper. Slate pencils were made of soapstone or softer pieces of slate rock, sometimes wrapped in paper like this one. Many students remember the sound of the slate pencil -- like nails on a chalkboard. In the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, chalk was used instead.
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.