Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

“A Very Practical and Purposeful Program”

February 1, 2017 Archive Insight

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Last summer, our 2016 Edsel B. Ford Design History Fellow, Meredith Pollock, investigated materials in our collection related to Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s philanthropy, including a thread concerning the NAACP. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded February 12, 1909, on the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.  The goal at the time, as the NAACP’s website notes, was to “secure for all people the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law and universal adult male suffrage, respectively.”

Judge Ira W. Jayne of the third judicial circuit of Michigan reached out to Eleanor Ford for a donation to the Detroit branch of the NAACP in 1922.  In a letter we’ve just digitized, Jayne calls the organization “the most intelligent and wholesome effort for and in behalf of the betterment of race conditions in the country today” and notes that his “knowledge of [Eleanor’s] interest in fair play for the under man has prompted this letter.”  Jayne did succeed in his goal—a reply two weeks later from Edsel Ford calls the NAACP’s goals “commendable” and includes a donation for $100.

Visit our Digital Collections to view more artifacts related to the NAACP

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Strategy Manager, Collections & Content at The Henry Ford.

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