America’s Industrial Revolution Workshop

America's Industrial Revolution at The Henry Ford

Workshop News

  • The Henry Ford hosted a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop on “America’s Industrial Revolution” in July 2017.
  • The NEH will not offer Landmarks of American History and Culture workshops for the summer of 2018.
  • The NEH recently announced their plans to offer the Landmarks of American History and Culture workshop in 2019. The Henry Ford expects to apply again to host a workshop. For more information:

From the 2017 NEH Summer Scholars

Learning by Doing
“So often folks at workshops tell me what happened - you all showed us what happened, when, and why. You used the museum and village as Mr. Ford himself envisioned - as living textbooks that would tell the full and complex story of our nation's industrial past.”

“This was my first history based workshop. I have attended primarily science based programs in the past.”

“Both online and in person, THF allow you access to hundreds of years of artifacts and spans so many different aspects of history. Most workshops have a more narrow focus.”

Content Expertise
"Learning from the fields' top researchers and scholars brings teachers to another level in the classroom.”

Deployable in Classroom
“Knowing the resources available and knowing I can contact other teachers as well as THF if I need help is supportive to my progress as a teacher. I think I will be able to work on my lesson more and make it part of my curriculum.”

Seamlessly Organized
“From having every logistical thing thought of to having the employees greet us everywhere from in the village to the lunchroom like we were was VERY well planned and we felt very welcome. I mean, we got our own private trips in Model T's--still grinning about that!”

About the 2017 Workshop

In July 2017, The Henry Ford had the distinct honor of hosting a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for the eighth time. America’s Industrial Revolution is a week-long professional development opportunity for K-12 teachers that explores the diverse impacts of the Industrial Revolution on American life.

The Henry Ford welcomed 70 teachers from across the country, to participate in this workshop as NEH Summer Scholars. These invited educators represented a diversity of schools and disciplines, and brought an affluence of experiences and expertise to the two sessions — creating a vibrant exchange of learning and teaching between The Henry Ford and the NEH Summer Scholars.

NEH Summer Scholars Session 1 & 2

Appealing to the diversity of interests and disciplines, the content of the workshop covered a wide range of themes, regions, and time periods. Each morning NEH scholars were introduced to a new topic through a lecture and discussion led by university scholars and curators. The university scholars each discussed in depth, a different aspect of the Industrial Revolution, elaborating on both the technical and social changes that occurred. Teachers learned about the transition from home to factory production, illustrating the evolving roles of women and children; the mechanization of agriculture and its socioeconomic and environmental effects; the impact of the assembly line and its influence on the nature of work; and so much more. The curators provided an iteration of the historic changes through the lens of the sights, sounds, and objects at The Henry Ford.

NEH Summer Scholars experienced these historic changes in living color as they spent the middle part of the day exploring the Greenfield Village sites and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour experience. This experience exposed teachers to the power of immersive learning and hands-on interactions, and invited further discussion with curators, scholars, and museum experts. On Monday, the Summer Scholars toured Detroit (the Motor City) discovering the significant impacts of industrialization on urban development. Tuesday, they witnessed the sounds, smells, and movement of a late 19th century working farm and additionally, learned and practiced scything the land. On Wednesday, NEH Summer Scholars experienced the impact of steam on transportation and culture by riding steam locomotives and eating authentic stagecoach cuisine. Thursday was a deep dive into Thomas Edison’s laboratory at a recreation endorsed by Edison himself. Friday brought the past to the present with a visit to a working assembly line. Each day’s site exploration uncovered a new perspective, a new experience, and often a new idea to be shared in the classroom.

To conclude their day of learning and exploring, teachers worked on developing resources for the classroom. The Henry Ford incorporates this resource-building time to encourage teachers to take what they have experienced and learned at The Henry Ford and bring that same excitement into the classroom. We intend to share some of these teacher-made resources with The Henry Ford educational community in 2018.

The creation and continuing innovation of the program is driven by the workshop’s aim to expose teachers to the Industrial Revolution’s complex history, and foremost, to inspire each teacher to think innovatively about teaching while reinvigorating their passion for the classroom. The America’s Industrial Revolution workshop ended each week with a celebration of the NEH Summer Scholars’ completion of the workshop and their outstanding dedication to education.

NEH Summer Scholar

“Although the days were long and the nights short, the valuable experience gained was worth every step I took. And believe me, I took a lot of steps. But the ride on the train in the rain, sitting in the seat that Rosa Parks would have sat in on the bus, and the ride in a 1921 Model T, are memories that I will cherish forever.”
-  Gloria Smith, 2017 NEH Summer Scholar and 9th grade Social Studies Teacher 

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.