Featured on The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation: Season 9
26 artifacts in this set
As farmers mechanized barn and farmyard work in the nineteenth century, they began to use stationary power sources. Some invested in animal treadmills, which used the same "endless belt" concept as modern exercise treadmills to convert animals' movement into power for a range of agricultural machinery. This version, designed for dogs, goats, or sheep, could run small machines like butter churns or cream separators.
Tether cars, gas-powered model race cars, were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. They were raced individually while tethered to a central pivot, or against each other on a scaled-down board track. The cars found new appreciation in the 1980s and 1990s. Builder Butch Marks modeled this tether car after a classic 1932 Ford "highboy" fenderless hot rod.
Spreading manure to rejuvenate the soil is one of the most important, but least popular jobs on the farm. Mechanical manure spreaders made an awful job slightly less so. This circa 1905 International Harvester Manure Spreader No. 3 is a very rare survivor and an excellent example of the prevailing manure spreader design of the early 1900s.
Though the Wright family moved around, brothers Wilbur and Orville always thought of this house, originally located at 7 Hawthorn Street in Dayton, Ohio, as home. Orville was born here in 1871, and Wilbur died here in 1912. It was also here that the brothers began their serious studies in aviation -- work that led to their successful 1903 Wright Flyer.
Ford Motor Company's Lincoln-Mercury Division published How to Earn the Keys to Dad's Car in 1966. It included advice to both teenagers and parents for safe and responsible driving. The booklet featured Colette Daiute, Miss Teenage America 1966 and youth safety spokesperson for Lincoln-Mercury. Automakers distributed guidebooks to high schools -- hoping that student drivers would someday become loyal customers.
Milton Bradley introduced this game of skill in 1965. Players need a steady hand to "operate" on the patient (an image on an electrified board powered by batteries). Each player tries to remove plastic elements with metal tweezers. But be careful! If the tweezers hit the metal lining, an electrical circuit is closed, and the patient's nose lights up while a buzzer sounds.
The Firestone barn is a Pennsylvania-German bank barn, an American barn type with Swiss origins. They are called bank barns because the barn is built into a bank, allowing wagons to be driven into the upper floor. Bank barns combined multiple farm functions under a single roof. Livestock were kept in the lower floor, crops on the upper floor.
Postcard, "The Free Library of Philadelphia: Passyunk Branch, NE Corner 20th & Shunk Streets," circa 1915
Until the 20th century, most book collections were not available to everyday Americans. They were either privately owned, accessible only by paid subscription, or stored away haphazardly. In some communities, wealthy citizens funded libraries. Philadelphia philanthropist George Seckel Pepper bequeathed $225,000 to establish The Free Library of Philadelphia in 1889. Over time, the Free Library system grew to include many neighborhood branches.
"Combines" combine the major tasks of grain harvest: cutting and gathering the crop, threshing and separating the kernels from the chaff, and disposing of the straw. The Massey-Harris Model 20, introduced in 1938, culminated over 100 years of mechanical improvements. One driver operated the self-propelled machine, which reduced the need for hired help during the labor shortages of World War II.
As farmers mechanized barn and farmyard work in the nineteenth century, they began to use stationary power sources. Some invested in "sweeps," which converted energy generated by horses walking in a circle into power to operate large machines like grain threshers or separators. Sweep operators hauled these devices on specially designed wagons from farm to farm during threshing season.
By the 1920s, automobile parking in cities was chaotic. City governments tried widening streets, prohibiting parking near intersections, and marking parking spaces. Finally, it was the parking meter, introduced in 1935, that proved workable and enforceable. This early parking meter, designed for two cars, was used in Hamtramck, Michigan. Parking cost five cents per hour, except on Sunday and holidays.
A new kiln in the "Revelation" line, produced by Horace J. Caulkins' Detroit-based company, allowed ceramicists to create pottery with underglaze decoration in their own studios. Beginning in 1901, artist Mary Chase Perry, who had helped develop the kiln, made this vase to demonstrate its potential. Perry and Caulkins would go on to form Detroit's renowned Pewabic Pottery.
Automobiles became significant in the later years of the long fight for women's suffrage, or equal voting rights. Suffragists organized automobile processions, complete with music and colorful decorations, to attract favorable press and rally support around the cause. Participating vehicles could be outfitted with hood ornaments like this one, which called for "Votes for Women" and held two small flags.
Librarian Jean Armour Polly coined the slang idiom "surf the net" in the early 1990s. Believing the Internet--in addition to books and other printed matter--could be a resource for learning, Polly advocated for free Internet access in public libraries. She used surfing as a metaphor when she authored a guide titled "Surfing the Internet: An introduction." The phrase quickly caught on.
Lovett Hall, now part of The Henry Ford's campus, was built for a variety of purposes. It contained a library (shown here as it appeared when the building was completed), gymnasium, classrooms and even a swimming pool for Henry Ford's school system. The building also housed a ballroom, used for Henry Ford's "Old Time" dancing parties.
In June 2020, Detroit-based non-profit letterpress organization Signal-Return responded to the civil unrest that followed the death of George Floyd by producing free protest posters for the community. These posters were made in solidarity with the principles behind the Black Lives Matter movement and distributed with the intent that they be carried in local protests or displayed in visible places.
This playful paper dress was inspired by the work of pop artist Andy Warhol, who began using the Campbell soup can image in his artwork during the early 1960s. Produced by the Campbell Soup Company in 1966-67, these "Souper" dresses served as creative advertising for the company during the late 1960s--a time when disposable paper dresses were a popular fad.
"Votes for Women" Section of "With Liberty and Justice for All" Exhibit in Henry Ford Museum, January 2006
With Liberty and Justice for All opened in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in 2006. The exhibit explored struggles that arose in the quest for freedom in America, and included sections devoted to Independence, Freedom and Union, Votes for Women, and the Civil Rights Movement. The Votes for Women area acknowledged the automobile's role in women's fight for suffrage.
Today Glenn Curtiss is best remembered for his pioneering work in aviation, but he built and raced motorcycles from 1901 to 1913. Curtiss personally set a speed record of 136.36 mph with a 40-horsepower V-8 racing motorcycle in 1907. This circa 1910 production model is powered by a gentler single-cylinder engine good for about four horsepower.
Innovations in plastics and injection-molding led to the availability of affordable snow globes for the mass public. These became integrally linked with roadside travel, sold as tourist souvenirs. Liberty Island--part of the borough of Manhattan in New York but located in New Jersey waters--includes the Statue of Liberty, shown here against the New York City skyline.
Mid-twentieth century home entertainment technology -- radios, stereos, televisions -- tended to be hidden by furniture casework. They were furniture pieces. Not so with this Philco Predicta from 1958; it reveled in its technology. The tube sits exposed and perched on its stand -- bound by no casework.
In 1966, the Scott Paper Company launched a promotion for its new line of colorful paper products--customers could redeem a coupon for a paper dress, choosing from this red bandana pattern or a black and white Op Art print. The media--and the public--took immediate notice. Scott's paper dresses became a surprise hit, launching a nationwide fad for disposable apparel.
When new inventions like stoves, sewing machines and radios first came on the market, they seemed jarring and out of place next to people's furniture. Manufacturers learned that these devices would sell better if their mechanisms were hidden behind stylish cabinetry or fancy decoration. Fashionable parlor furniture inspired the ornately scrolled and pierced iron legs of this elaborately decorated sewing machine.
Explorer Richard Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett flew this Fokker F.VII Tri-Motor airplane toward the North Pole on May 9, 1926. Though Byrd is generally credited with reaching the pole, controversy remains. Edsel Ford financed the expedition, and Byrd acknowledged his patron by naming the plane Josephine Ford, after Ford's daughter.
The RCA Radiola 60 receiver is carefully concealed in a custom-made case by Anthony Osebold, a European-trained carver of church altars in Detroit. This example is an opulent showcase of his woodworking skills. The cabinet's appeal is two-fold: it houses some of the most refined radio technology available at the time--yet its lavish craftsmanship harkens back to earlier historical traditions.
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.