Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

2003.36.1_FRFT_vehicles

You might have heard that there are big changes afoot at the Ford Rouge Center: production has recently started on the all-new 2015 F-150, featuring an aluminum-alloy body and bed. As part of this change, we’ve been enhancing the Ford Rouge Factory Tour experience, and we’ve also taken advantage of the production line’s downtime to digitize the vehicles you’ll see in the Legacy Gallery.  You can now check out glamour shots of the 1929 Ford Model A Roadster, the 1932 Ford V-8 Victoria, the 1949 Ford V-8 Club Coupe, the 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible, and, last but not least, the 1956 Ford Thunderbird Convertible shown here—all part of the legacy of the Rouge.  Visit our collections website to see these vehicles, as well as much more material related to the history of the Rouge.

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

American society became more child-centered as the birthrate climbed after World War II. Like other aspects of American life during this “baby boom” era, Jewish ritual observances in the home became more child-focused, as reflected in this 1953 publication. (Object ID.2005.29.32) (Gift of Judith E. Endelman and William D. Epstein in memory of Miriam Ruth Epstein)

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the few and the weak over the mighty and the strong.  Legends and stories surround the holiday’s origins, whose name means “dedication” in Hebrew.

For centuries, Hanukkah was a modest occasion, a minor holiday. Jewish law and custom only required the lighting of candles for eight nights, with one candle to be used as the shamash (“guard” or “servant” in Hebrew) to light the others. The lighted candles were to be kept by a window where they could be seen by passers-by. In Eastern Europe, the celebration included eating latkes (potato pancakes), distributing small amounts of Hanukkah gelt (coins) to children, playing games with a dreidel (a spinning top), and playing cards. Continue Reading

This model was used to demonstrate the soybean extraction process at several world’s fairs in the 1930s. (THF 153893)

Soybeans: A New Hope for Farmers

In the 1920s, following his success with the Model T, Henry Ford increasingly turned his attention to transforming farming—the life he sought to escape as a boy.  He focused on finding new products and new markets for agriculture. (The charcoal briquette was an early result of this effort, made from surplus wood scrap.)

In 1928, Ford started the Chemical Lab (the building in Greenfield Village now known as the Soybean Lab), and asked Robert Boyer, a student at the Ford Trade School to run it.  Ford told Boyer to select good students from the Trade School to staff the Lab. Ford then set them to experimenting with all manner of agricultural produce, from cantaloupes to rutabagas. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

Dowagiac, Michigan High School football team, 1896  (THF226108)

After a sultry summer, all of a sudden the air turns chilly and crisp.  The sunlight is somehow brighter and more intense.  The days get shorter.  The leaves start turning their riotous colors. When I was growing up, this was the time my brothers would stash away their baseball gloves and start tossing around the football.

Football Season had arrived.

American football got its start as a college sport.  In fact, virtually all the rules, playing strategies, player equipment, and methods of scoring that today we consider part of American football evolved during its early college years.

American football probably originated in England and it came to this country in two separate versions.  The first version, which involved more kicking, eventually became the game we know as soccer.  The second version, which involved more carrying and running with the ball, was akin to the British game of rugby.  Continue Reading

dymaxion-site

How would you like to live in a round house built of aluminum, steel, and plastic, suspended on a mast like a giant umbrella, with built-in closets and shelves and a bathroom the size of an airplane toilet?

R. Buckminster Fuller thought this house, which he called the Dymaxion House, was just what the American public wanted. Fuller, an engineer, philosopher and innovative designer, conceived the house in 1927 and partnered with the Beech Aircraft Corporation in Wichita, Kansas, to produce prototypes in 1945. Although Fuller designed his house so that it could be mass-produced, only one was ever built and lived in. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

Wright Airplane in Flight during Demonstration Flight by Wilbur Wright, Le Mans, France, August 1908. (Object ID: 2000.53.129)

This week on “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation” you’ll learn about the Wright Brothers. Want to learn more? Take a look below.

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  • Smithsonian 3D Wright Flyer
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    Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nationi

    Henry Ford Posing with a Violin, 1924. THF108028

    For many of us, the music of our youth holds special meaning.  It was no different for successful industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947).

    Country fiddlers had provided the lively music for the rural dances of Henry Ford’s youth during the 1870s and 1880s. Ford loved the sound of a violin, even purchasing an inexpensive fiddle as a young man and teaching himself to play a bit.

    In the mid-1920s, Ford—then in his early sixties—sought out this beloved instrument that had provided the “sound track” for Ford’s young adulthood in rural Michigan.

    But now he had the money to buy the very best. Continue Reading

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

    Rosa Parks bus - Photo by Michelle Andonian

    This week on “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation” you’ll learn about Rosa Parks and the Rosa Parks Bus. Want to learn more about Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement? Take a look below. Continue Reading

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

    The interior of the shop reflects the Wright brothers’ two great interests. Bicycles and bike repair tools fill this room, but airplane wing ribs occupy the workbench in front of the windows.

    By the end of the 19th century technological miracles were commonplace. Railroad trains routinely traveled a-mile-a-minute. Electric lights could turn night into day. Voices traveled over wires. Pictures could be set into motion. Lighter-than-air balloons and dirigibles even offered access to the sky. But the age-old dream of flying with wings like birds still seemed like a fantasy. In a simple bicycle shop now located in Greenfield Village, two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, turned the fantasy of heavier-than-air flight into reality. Continue Reading

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation