The Most Popular Digital Collections Artifacts of 2021
50 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 he placed second at Le Mans. Miles died in a crash while testing Ford's J-Car later that year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, D.C., 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."
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
The International Jew - The World's Foremost Problem, Volume 3, "Jewish Influences in American Life," 1921
Henry Ford published the weekly The Dearborn Independent from 1919 to 1927 as a forum for his views. Between 1920 and 1922, the paper ran a series of front-page articles (penned by its editor, William Cameron) entitled The International Jew that denounced all things Jewish. Many of these articles were later compiled, reprinted, and distributed in a four-volume set. These defamatory articles exposed Ford's deep anti-Semitic...
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 1,767 Phantom II Rolls-Royces.
Designed by Tyler Henry in 1860, the Henry Repeating Rifle was a major advancement in the repeating rifle. With a new bolt, firing pin and ammunition, it was much faster and more reliable than earlier repeaters. It gained fame during the Civil War, with more than 10,000 in use. The rifle was the basis for the 1866 Winchester Repeating Rifle.
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 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.
After his first two attempts at commercial automobile manufacturing failed, Henry Ford found success with Ford Motor Company, established in 1903. The new company'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.
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.
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.
Parcheesi is based on Pachisi -- a game that originated in India. Basic game rules have players traveling around the cross-shaped board from start to home. Landing on another players' marker sends that player back to start. American game makers, Selchow and Righter, trademarked the Parcheesi name in 1874 after purchasing the game rights in 1867.
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 1914 touring car is one of several Model T automobiles 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.
Henry Ford hired a fearless bicycle racer named Barney Oldfield to drive "999." Although he had never driven a car, Oldfield learned quickly and 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.
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.
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.
The Comuta-Car, and its predecessor the CitiCar, were electric cars designed for limited use in cities. Sharp increases in gasoline prices in the 1970s persuaded some 4,000 people to buy the tiny vehicles. But every time the price of fuel spiked, it always fell again, and demand for specialized urban electrics always fell along with it. Will the time for such cars ever come?
Henry Ford acquired the Wright brothers' home and cycle shop in 1936. He then relocated the buildings from Dayton, Ohio, to his Dearborn, Michigan, museum complex. Ford placed the structures right next to each other in Greenfield Village. In Dayton, the buildings had been located a few blocks apart.
In his first season with the Chicago Bulls (1984-1985), basketball phenomenon Michael Jordan wore black and red Nike shoes. Almost immediately, the company launched commercial "Air Jordans" and an aggressive advertising campaign. The popularity of Air Jordans was unprecedented -- first-year sales totaled 130 million dollars! This pair was purchased as a Christmas present for a young Iowan boy in 1985.
Falling sales and pleas from his staff finally convinced Henry Ford to retire the Model T in 1927. Workers and factories sat idle for six months while Ford retooled for the replacement car. The new Model A was more mechanically advanced and stylish than its predecessor. It was a hit too, with nearly five million sold over four model years.
Unimate robots were the world's first successful industrial robots. The units, designed by Unimation Inc., could perform tasks in manufacturing facilities that were difficult, dangerous, or monotonous for human workers. This is the first Unimate ever used on an assembly line. It was installed at the General Motors plant in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1961 to unload a die-casting press.
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.
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.
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."
Cast iron mechanical banks, which used ingenious mechanisms to deposit the money, became particularly popular between 1870 and 1930. Banks were produced in a variety of forms. When the button behind Uncle Sam's left foot is pressed, the coin in his right hand is deposited into the open valise at the same time that his beard whiskers move.
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.
Natale Olivieri added a chocolate flavored drink to the homemade fruit juices he sold at his grocery store in the mid-1920s. The New Jersey entrepreneur named the drink Yoo-hoo. Customers loved it and he bottled the beverage for wider distribution. More success followed in the 1950s, when members of the New York Yankees touted Yoo-hoo as the “The Drink of Champions.”
This single-cylinder, four-horsepower engine powered the Oldsmobile Curved Dash runabout. It has one cylinder, one piston, one connecting rod and crank, one balance wheel, and two valves. The complications of larger multi-cylinder engines were eliminated. The engine's simplicity and the vehicle's affordable $650 price made the Curved Dash runabout America's first car produced in large numbers.
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.
Starting in the early 1980s--and already established as an internationally recognized architect--Michael Graves began to pursue a parallel career as a product designer. Over the following three and a half decades he and his collaborators designed everything from humble household goods to limited edition luxury items for clients as diverse as Steuben, Alessi, Target, J. C. Penney, and Disney.
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.
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.
Wilbur and Orville Wright operated their bicycle business in this building from 1897 to 1908 in Dayton, Ohio. The brothers sold and repaired bikes, and they even produced models under their own brands. It was also in this shop that the Wright brothers built their earliest flying machines, including the 1903 Flyer that became the first successful heavier-than-air, powered, controlled aircraft.