Our Most-Viewed Digitized Artifacts of All Time
100 artifacts in this set
British-born Ken Miles was a gifted race car engineer and driver. Through his work for Carroll Shelby, Miles got involved in Ford's GT racing program. Miles won the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1966, and placed second at Le Mans. Miles died in a crash while testing Ford's J-Car later that year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway's massive Allegheny, introduced in 1941, represents the peak of steam railroad 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, C&O began pulling these giants from service. Diesel-electric locomotives proved more flexible and less expensive.
Carroll Shelby was brought in to boost Ford's struggling GT racing program in late 1964. Shelby, who'd won Le Mans as a driver in 1959, turned things around. His team reworked the GT40 and, with Ford engineers, replaced its 289-cubic inch engine with a big 427. Ford swept the Le Mans podium in 1966 by taking first, second, and third places.
This car was built to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, it accomplished that goal in 1967, beating the second-place Ferrari by 32 miles at a record-breaking average speed of 135.48 miles per hour. The Mark IV combined a sophisticated chassis with a big engine based on Ford's V-8 for stock car racing.
In 1914 Ford Motor Company established the Ford English School, where the automaker's diverse immigrant employees could learn the English language and take civics lessons in preparation for becoming U.S. citizens. At the graduation ceremony, students wearing clothing from their native countries descended into a large "American Melting Pot" and emerged wearing homogenous suits and waving American flags.
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.
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.
Bill Elliott set NASCAR's all-time speed record with this car when he qualified for the 1987 Winston 500 at Talladega at 212.809 miles per hour. By the 1980s, "stock cars" only looked stock. Underneath this Thunderbird sheet metal is a purpose-built steel tube frame, racing suspension and brakes, and a racing engine that no Ford dealer ever sold.
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."
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.
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.
Steam locomotives required constant maintenance from an army of skilled and unskilled workers, and the roundhouse is where that work took place. This roundhouse was built in 1884 in Marshall, Michigan, for the Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee Railroad. Today it services the locomotives and equipment of Greenfield Village's Weiser Railroad.
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.
Henry Ford hired a fearless bicycle racer named Barney Oldfield to drive "999." Although he had never driven a car, Oldfield not only mastered it but also won his first competition. He went on to become America's first nationally famous racing hero, known for his thrilling exhibition races and the trademark cigar he chewed to protect his teeth in a crash.
Scotsman Jim Clark won the Indianapolis 500 with this rear-engine car in 1965. After his victory, a traditional front-engine car never won that race again. The Lotus-Ford combined a European Formula One-inspired lightweight chassis with a big Ford V-8 engine. The Lotus-Ford's success effectively killed the traditional Indy roadster and established a new design for American race cars.
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.
This 1914 Touring Car is one of several Model T cars given to naturalist John Burroughs by his friend Henry Ford. Ford Motor Company experienced a milestone year in 1914. The automaker fully implemented the moving assembly line at its Highland Park plant, and it introduced the Five Dollar Day profit-sharing plan for its employees.
Edison received a patent for this electrographic vote recorder in 1869. Legislative bodies could record votes accurately and instantaneously with his device. Edison's invention stirred little interest and was never manufactured. The invention's significance, however, should not be overlooked. This was the first of Edison's 1093 U.S. patents and in a way marks the start of his inventive activity.
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.
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.
This sharp looking little two-seater created a great "buzz" when racing driver Dan Gurney introduced it at the United States Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, New York, in 1962. Featuring a rear-mounted V-4 engine, it was unlike any Ford ever seen before. The Mustang name later appeared on a sporty four-seater that created its own buzz in 1964.
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.
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.
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.
Wilbur and Orville Wright opened their first bicycle shop in 1892 and started building their own cycles -- under the "Van Cleve" and "St. Clair" brands -- in 1896. "Safety" bicycles like this, with both wheels the same size, replaced high-wheeler bikes in the early 1890s. Easier to ride, the popular chain-driven safeties launched a bicycling craze in the United States.
The wealth and power of Southern plantation owners depended upon a large labor force of enslaved people. Slaves known for running away might have had to wear an iron collar like this, for punishment or to prevent them from running away again. The hooks caught on bushes or tree limbs, causing a violent jerking to the individual's head and neck.
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.
Before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, African Americans faced persistent racial discrimination when traveling. It could be difficult to find restaurants, hotels, or other amenities. The Negro Motorist Green Book, begun in 1936, became a guide for the African-American traveler. This 1949 edition listed travel information that would keep the traveler "from running into difficulties [and] embarrassments," and would "make his trips more enjoyable."
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.
Clara Ford, wife of Henry Ford, drove this Detroit Electric. In the years before World War I many women chose electric cars because they started instantly without hand cranking and had no difficult-to-shift transmission. The superintendent of the Detroit Electric factory employed his daughter, Lillian Reynolds, to sell to women -- including Clara Ford, who drove this car into the 1930s.
From the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries, segregation laws in Southern states separated African Americans and whites in almost every aspect of public life -- from railroad cars and schools to restrooms and drinking fountains. Varying from state to state, these laws were supposed to establish facilities that were "separate but equal." In reality, these were almost never equal.
Between 1840 and 1847, Abraham Lincoln tried cases here as a traveling lawyer. Visiting once or twice a year, he worked mostly on cases resolving neighbors' disagreements over land, contracts, and debts. As Lincoln traveled, people got to know him because he always took time to talk to them. This helped him earn votes later when he went into politics.
Amana's Radarange, introduced in 1967, was the first compact microwave oven made for home use. By 1975, when Ed and Flo Harper bought this Radarange as a family Christmas gift, sales of microwave ovens outpaced gas ovens for the first time. The convenient, time-saving microwave oven was becoming a practical necessity for a fast-paced world. People had less time to devote to cooking.
In 1908, George Robertson drove this car to victory in the Vanderbilt Cup, America's first great automobile race. It was the first time an American car won a major international road race in the United States. The Locomobile competed while wearing race number 16, and it's been known as "Old 16" ever since.
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.
After 19 years and some 15 million cars, Ford Motor Company ended production of its venerable Model T. Company officials designated this car as the Fifteen Millionth and ceremonial "last" Model T. They gathered at Ford's Highland Park Plant to watch Henry Ford and Edsel Ford drive it off the assembly line on May 26, 1927.
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.
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.
When Carl Fisher and his partners opened Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, the crushed stone and tar track surface quickly proved too dangerous. Fisher had the entire track resurfaced with 3.2 million paving bricks. The track was fully paved with asphalt by 1961, but a three-foot brick strip -- at the start/finish line -- remains, as does the speedway's nickname: the Brickyard.
Designers Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf explored new materials that could replicate the cooling effect of historic wicker furniture and studied human sitting habits to create Herman Miller's groundbreaking Aeron task chair. One of the last in a series of experimental prototypes, this 1994 version incorporates the distinctive skeletal appearance that exemplified the production Aeron introduced later that year.
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.
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.
The Model T's basic design received many updates over the car's 19-year life. Some incorporated mechanical improvements, some responded to growing consumer demands, and some simply reduced costs. The 1919 sedans were the first with electric starters and demountable tire rims. These features were standard on other makes but cost extra on a Ford, keeping the base price low.
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.
In 1948, the McDonald brothers transformed their Southern California drive-in restaurant with their radical new "Speedee Service System"--assembly-line production of a limited menu at drastically reduced prices. Richard McDonald created this sign design in 1952. In 1955, milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc franchised the McDonald's concept--prompting numerous imitators and ultimately turning America into a "fast food nation."
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, Michigan. 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.
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.
Indiana farmwife Susan McCord, like other frugal housewives of the era, sewed her quilts from fabric she had on hand, mostly clothing scraps. McCord expertly pieced this top from small 1-1/4 inch hexagons arranged in concentric rings. A close look at the small scale prints reveals an encyclopedia of inexpensive clothing fabrics popular during the late 19th century.
This stagecoach tavern was built in 1831 in Clinton, Michigan, 50 miles west of Detroit. Taverns dotted the American countryside during the first half of the 1800s, a period of massive migration, new settlement, and rapid change in a young America. From 1849-1854, farmer Calvin Wood operated this tavern, offering food, drink, and accommodations to travelers who passed through his village.
Engineers designed the TR70 as a compact machine suitable for hilly terrain. The twin rotors (TR) shelled corn or threshed grain and moved it through the combine’s body. Setting the rotors at an angle (axial) shortened the machine. Farmers changed the front-end attachment to harvest corn, beans, or wheat. Stencils on this prototype, exhibited at trade shows, explained additional features.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Henry Ford II (center) celebrates with Bruce McLaren (left) and Chris Amon (right) after the two New Zealanders won the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford GT40 Mark II. Ford swept the podium that year, taking second and third places too. It was a milestone victory over Ferrari, the Italian automaker long dominant at the French race.
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.
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 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.
Henry Ford hoped that plastic made from soybeans might be developed into a strong, safe substitute for traditional metals. He established a laboratory where scientists molded ground soybean meal into small plastic car parts. Here, Ford swings an ax at a plastic trunk lid--mounted to his personal car--to demonstrate the material's strength.
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.
On November 12, 1965, Goldenrod streaked across Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats at 409.277 miles per hour, setting a new land speed record for wheel-driven cars. Builders Bob and Bill Summers powered Goldenrod with four massive Chrysler V-8 engines. Although other car builders copied its sleek design, Goldenrod held the record until 1991.
Ford workers disliked the new assembly line methods so much that by late 1913, labor turnover was 380 percent. The company's announcement to pay five dollars for an eight-hour day compared to the previous rate of $2.34 for a nine-hour day made many workers willing to submit to the relentless discipline of the line in return for such high wages.
Amos and Grace Mattox -- descended from enslaved African Americans -- raised their two children in this rural Georgia farmhouse during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Amos farmed, cut hair, made shoes, and preached at the local church, while Grace sewed, canned, cooked, and helped needy neighbors. Although life was hard, the family proudly affirmed that there was "always enough."
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.
This was the first car built expressly for presidential use. It was nicknamed the "Sunshine Special" because President Franklin Roosevelt loved to ride in it with the top down. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 the car was returned to the factory where it was equipped with armor plate and bullet-resistant tires and gas tank. The "Sunshine Special" was retired in 1950.
Lincoln Motor Company adopted the greyhound as its corporate mascot in 1925. The swift, graceful animal was a fitting symbol for a company that prided itself on speedy and stylish motor cars. Gorham Manufacturing Company, a silversmithing firm based in New York City, designed the regal hood ornament that crowned Lincoln automobiles through the 1930s.
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.
Boys who attended the Henry Ford Trade School learned by doing. The school, the brainchild of Henry Ford, trained teen-aged boys in a variety of skilled, industrial trade work -- machining, metallurgy, drafting, and engine design among others. Students created useful components for local factories in hands-on lab and shop classes. In addition to the manual training received, academic classes were required.
Ford and his engineers constantly searched for ways to speed up car production and keep costs low. The integration of a moving assembly line in Highland Park Plant allowed the company to do just that. From 1908-1927, Ford Motor Company produced over 15 million Model T cars and the price dropped from $850 to as little as $260.
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.
Harry Miller, one of America's most important racing designers, built this car for Ford Motor Company's effort at the 1935 Indianapolis 500. It has all of Miller's hallmarks -- innovation, craftsmanship, and an almost sculptural presence. All that it lacks is a victory. Miller built ten similar cars, but a hurried production schedule led to mechanical problems and none finished the race.
In this painting Norman Rockwell gives us an idealized view of Henry Ford building his first automobile in 1896. In a small brick shed behind the Fords' rented home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry fine tunes a part of the car while his wife Clara looks on, darning socks. The reality was somewhat different. Henry built the little car with the aid of several friends, and much of the work was done in a shop near Ford's place of work, an...
Like other farm families living in northeastern Connecticut in the 1760s, the Daggetts made and grew many of the things they needed. Along with farming, Samuel Daggett was a house builder and furniture maker. The "saltbox" form of this house -- with short roof in front and long in back -- was a typical New England house type of this era.
Many native-born Americans viewed immigrants with fear at the beginning of the 20th century. Economic instability and social tensions were blamed on foreigners, and the "immigrant problem" became a national focus. This anti-immigrant document released from the Ku Klux Klan announces members' belief in protecting traditional American ideals from immigrants, reflecting the fear that many native-born Americans felt.
This is the oldest known surviving steam engine in the world. Named for its inventor Thomas Newcomen, the engine converted chemical energy in the fuel into useful mechanical work. Its early history is not known, but it was used to pump water out of the Cannel mine in the Lancashire coalfields of England in about 1765. The engine was presented to Henry Ford in 1929.
Did John Dillinger write to Henry Ford praising the industrialist's "wonderful car"? In 1934, Ford Motor Company received this letter apparently signed by Dillinger. Federal handwriting experts, however, concluded that the signature was not that of the fugitive gangster. Dillinger's tribute to Ford vehicles may never be confirmed because in July 1934 Public Enemy Number One was gunned down by U.S. agents.
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 1918, at the request of President Woodrow Wilson, Henry Ford reluctantly agreed to run for the Senate, stipulating he would not actively campaign. His opponent, Truman Newberry, former Secretary of the Navy, lavished thousands in advertising and public appearances. Surprisingly, Newberry only defeated Ford by the relatively narrow margin of 2,200 votes. Henry never ran for public office again.
This 1927 Blue Bird is the oldest surviving school bus in America. Albert Luce, Sr., built his first bus in 1925 by mounting a purchased wood body to a Ford truck frame. The body could not withstand the Georgia roads. Luce, convinced he could make a better bus, applied a steel framework under the wood body. His success led him to make school buses full time.
This is one of the earliest diesel-electric locomotives used on American railroads. Diesel-electrics offered many advantages over steam locomotives. They required less maintenance, were more fuel-efficient, and could be operated by smaller crews. This locomotive's body houses an Ingersoll-Rand diesel engine that drives a General Electric generator, which in turn powers electric motors on the axles.
George Washington carried folding beds, tents, eating utensils, and other equipment to use while encamped on the field with his troops during the Revolutionary War. Washington likely used this bed when he traveled from his Newburgh, New York, headquarters in July 1783 -- as the war was winding down -- to tour upstate New York and the military installations located there.
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.
Henry Ford's reluctance to replace the aging Model T eroded his company's sales in the mid-1920s. Chevrolet, which offered fresher styling and more advanced engineering at a comparable price, beat Ford to become the best-selling car in the United States in 1927. Ford Motor Company regained the lead in 1928 after the introduction of its new Model A.
Manufacturers frequently made display materials available to retailers to help encourage increased sales of the company's product. This Boye Needle Company product display not only displayed sewing machine needles, shuttles and bobbins in an attractive dispenser, but also included a chart to help determine the appropriate size accessory needed for different makes of sewing machines.
Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company revolutionized the auto industry once again in 1932 with the introduction of a low-priced V-8 engine. By casting the crankcase and cylinder banks as a single unit, Ford cut manufacturing costs and could offer its V-8 in a car starting under $500. Ford's original V-8 design remained in production, with modifications, until 1953.
The Ford Model S was a composite of the Models N and R. The Model R had used the engine and chassis of the hot-selling Model N, but added running boards, a wider body, and larger wheels. When Ford ran out of Model R bodies and wheels the company put the new running boards on the Model N and called it the Model S.
The Ku Klux Klan's robe and hood veiled the organization in secrecy. During the 1920s, the date of this robe, Klansmen hidden behind this regalia could carry out unchecked terror on African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and immigrants. The robe and hood instilled fear on its victims and a sense of power to its wearers.
When Ford Motor Company's 1963 bid to buy Ferrari failed, Henry Ford II decided to beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After two disappointing years in which Ford cars didn't even finish the race, Mr. Ford gave these "motivational" cards to his senior managers in 1966. They worked! Ford took first, second, and third places at that year's race.
The stagecoach is a symbol of the American West, but its origins are in New England. First built in the 1820s, Concord coaches featured an innovative leather-strap suspension that produced a rocking motion over rough roads -- easier on passengers and horses alike. This example carried passengers and mail in New Hampshire and Maine before the automobile made it obsolete.
Cornell Aeronautical Labs did some of the first crash testing of automobiles. In 1957 Cornell teamed with Liberty Mutual Insurance to build this unusual looking concept car that incorporated the lessons learned in testing. The car did not actually run, but it featured ideas like seat belts, head rests, and padded interiors that are incorporated into today's cars.