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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

CAN-DO Can Do It!: The Henry Ford’s Digitized Collection Hits a Milestone

July 10, 2012 Archive Insight

As regular readers of this blog probably already know, The Henry Ford is in the middle of a big effort to digitize its vast collections of objects, documents, and photographs. Internally, this project is called CAN-DO: Collections Access Network for Digital Objects.


In mid-June, CAN-DO hit a major milestone: over 8,000 objects photographed/scanned, documented and available online!


So we did what any hard-working team would do: we ate cake. And because of the busy meeting schedules we maintain, we had to have our cake party at 9 AM on a Tuesday...but this did not faze us.

Any milestone can become a good justification for sheet cake.


As we ate our breakfast cake, we started to reflect a bit on the long road we’ve traveled. If you were checking our collections website last July, you would have been able to browse 516 objects from our collections. In a year, that number has expanded by a factor of more than 16. So what are you able to access now that you couldn’t a year ago?


For starters, all of the approximately 900 artifacts in the Driving America exhibit within Henry Ford Museum, from some of the largest...

1946 Fruehauf semi-trailer, used by Cole's Express some of the smallest.

Horseshoe nail ring made at Greenfield Village, circa 1968

You can also view some of your old favorites from Automobile in American Life, like Tom Thumb’s bicycle:

1869 miniature bicycle used by Tom Thumb

You can learn about the history of innovation through our extensive collection of patent models, like this one by Thomas Edison

Patent model of Edison's Telephonic Telegraph Improvement, 1877

…or this patent model for a solar lamp — dating from 1871:

Patent model of solar lamp, 1871

If you love annual events such as Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village or Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village, you might be able to recognize some of the historic imagery we draw upon in these vintage greeting cards, like this 1932 Christmas card...

Christmas card, "Season's Greetings," 1932

…and this Hallowe’en example from the same era.

Halloween card, "May Halloween Frolics Engage You Tonight...," 1937

Or, you can relive the excitement of the 1908 New York to Paris Race with a series of digitized lantern slides, like this one, covering the entire worldwide route:

Racers in the snow in New York State during the New York to Paris Race, 1908

But that’s not all you’ll find in our digitized collections — not by a long shot. You can also check out collections relating to automotive designers Bill Mitchell and Virgil Exner, a variety of 19th century cabinet cards and cartes-de-visite, photographs and souvenirs from World’s Fairs from the 1870s through the 1980s, letters from a variety of notable Americans, the buildings of Greenfield Village (plus photographs of many of the buildings on their original sites — do a search on your favorite to see what we have), objects related to female racecar driver Lyn St. James, violins, quilts, advertising trade cards, photographs and memorabilia related to Presidential transport and even some of our toy collection and a few lunchboxes.


And there is still more!


The links and images above provide a few pointers into our digital collections, but the best way to discover them is to search them for yourself. Visit our collections site today and let us know what you find!


Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford, and finds something new and fascinating among our 8000+ online collections objects daily.

21st century, 2010s, digitization, digital collections, by Ellice Engdahl, #Behind The Scenes @ The Henry Ford

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