Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

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Beast and Belle hand puppets. THF342892, THF342891
 

When Walt Disney Pictures released its animated film Beauty and the Beast in 1991, the company received its best movie reviews in almost 50 years. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the movie four stars out of four, saying that, “Beauty and the Beast reaches back to an older and healthier Hollywood tradition in which the best writers, musicians, and filmmakers are gathered for a project on the assumption that a family audience deserves great entertainment, too.” Movie-goers of all ages agreed—this film was a winner.

Lesser known is the fact that this movie broke new ground in ways that we often take for granted with animated films today. On the eve of Disney’s soon-to-be-released live-action version of this classic film, we take the opportunity to reflect upon the many breakthrough—even revolutionary—aspects of the original film.

1. It was the first animated film in history to use a screenplay in addition to the usual storyboards. This made the resulting story more akin to a live-action movie than to the extended cartoon quality of other animated films produced up to that time.

2. The screenplay was written by a woman! In a field dominated by men, Linda Woolverton—whose primary experience had been writing scripts for children’s television shows—was the first woman to write an animated feature for Disney.  Woolverton, who claimed that she possessed some of Belle’s characteristics and that Gaston had “tinges of guys I used to date,” brought a believable quality to the characters as she worked with the film’s changing stable of story writers.

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Belle Burger King figure. THF 101187


3. Belle was a new kind of princess, ushering in a whole new generation of more free-thinking, dynamic princesses like Mulan, Rapunzel in Tangled, and Merida in Brave. In writing the screenplay, Woolverton said, “I wanted a woman of the 90’s, someone who wanted to do something other than wait for her prince to come.” The casting of Paige O’Hara (a Broadway actress and singer) as the voice of Belle was a purposeful attempt to add a unique, more grown-up quality to Belle’s personality.

4. The other main characters also broke traditional molds. Full of depth and complexity, Beast and Gaston turned the role of the classic, stereotypical Disney prince inside out. Beast, who was “mean and coarse and unrefined” during most of the film, turned out to be the prince, while Gaston—whose dashing looks make him a more likely hero—turned out to be the villain.

5. The music was stunning. When Walt Disney Studio Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg insisted that the film have a Broadway musical quality, he brought in songwriters Alan Mencken (music) and Howard Ashman (lyrics) fresh from their success with The Little Mermaid. Mencken and Ashman outdid themselves, creating the emotionally complex songs that moved the narrative forward and furthered our understanding of the characters and themes. Mencken and Ashman received Academy Awards that year for best original song (Beauty and the Beast) and best original score. 

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Songwriters Alan Mencken and Howard Ashman turned their talents to Beauty and the Beast after completing The Little Mermaid. THF 308964

6. It helped kick movie studios’ use of computer animation into high gear. Beauty and the Beast was produced using a blend of traditional hand-drawn animation and CAPS, a computer-animated production system. While not the first movie to use computer animation, the success of such effects in this film—especially in the stunning ballroom scene—convinced Disney and other film studios to invest further in this technology.

7. It brought The Walt Disney Company back to being a force to be reckoned with. After a string of minor box-office releases, Disney’s animation department started turning things around with Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1986) and The Little Mermaid (1989). Beauty and the Beast was an even bigger hit, ushering in a wave of successive hits from Aladdin to Tarzan.  

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Aladdin and Magic Carpet Burger King figure. THF 311312


This era, sometimes referred to as the “Disney Renaissance,” also saw a constant barrage of marketing tie-ins with each new film—related merchandise, Broadway musical adaptations, and Disney theme park attractions—laying the foundation for present-day cross-marketing techniques.

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Chip and Cogsworth from Pizza Hut. THF342889, THF342890 
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childhood, by Donna R. Braden, technology, music, women's history, popular culture, movies, Disney

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Life magazine cover. THF266661

Resources from The Henry Ford for the Detroit 67 Project
As 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the tumultuous summer of 1967 in Detroit, The Henry Ford collaborated with The Detroit Historical Society in its important community engagement project, “Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward.

Why Remember Detroit '67?
What started out as a police raid on an after-hours club early Sunday morning, July 23, 1967, escalated into five days and nights of uncontrolled violence, looting, and arson that left 43 people dead, 1,189 injured, and over 7,200 arrested.  While civil unrest had occurred in many other cities before and during that summer, this event stood out as the largest of these uprisings until the riots that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968. 

Many people wondered how this could happen in Detroit—a city thought to have good race relations. What soon became apparent was African Americans’ anger and frustration at the lack of progress that had been made in achieving basic rights and equality, even after the long struggles of the Civil Rights movement and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several root causes of the uprising were cited, including: unemployment and job discrimination, substandard housing, poverty, low-quality education, lack of access to medical facilities, police brutality, mistreatment by white merchants, shortage of city services, and white indifference to these problems.

Despite efforts on many fronts to move past the devastation and bitter memories of 1967, Detroit is still considered a divided city today.

The Detroit 67 Project
The vision of The Detroit Historical Society’s groundbreaking project is to use the memory and legacy of this historic crisis as a “catalyst to engage, reflect, and provide opportunities to take the collective action that can help move our community forward.” To accomplish this, the Society has encouraged community-wide collaborators to lead programs, workshops, and discussions, collect oral histories, and/or share related archives and collections through exhibitions, publications, or websites. We have chosen to share digital content on our website related to topics that laid foundations for and offered responses to the upheaval that occurred in Detroit (and other cities) in 1967.

Our Involvement
Our mission, core collecting topics, and strategic plan all make this collaboration a perfect fit for us. First, our mission statement includes a call to action: to inspire people to shape a better future by learning from the traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness, and innovation. Second, one of our core collecting topics is social transformation, which involves a shift in people’s collective consciousness, leading to new values, relationships, and patterns of behavior. Finally, aligning with our larger institutional strategic plan, the goals for digital content on our website include relevance, community impact, national awareness, and sustainability.

Because of the national scope of our collections, we have organized our digital offerings listed below into categories of before and after the events of July 1967. We hope this rich and wide-ranging content deepens your understanding of the foundations, context, and impact of this historical crisis. This content not only sheds light on the past but can also provide a jumping-off point to encourage conversation and inspire action into the future.

Before
Rouge workers
A Piano with a Past
The Search for Home
Victor H. Green and The Negro Motorist Green Book
What if…Rosa Parks
Google Cultural Institute exhibit: “The Struggle for African-American Freedom”
Day of Courage: Julian Bond, other
OnInnovation: Rosa Parks
Educational Resources
Day of Courage: Rosa Parks
Segregation
Civil Rights

After
Detroit Edison images
Teaching Black: An Educator’s Library from the Black Power Era
OnInnovation: Will Allen, urban farming 

Michigan, Civil Rights, African American history, Detroit

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In the summer of 2014 I had the opportunity to study at The Henry Ford through the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop “America’s Industrial Revolution at The Henry Ford.” I had applied for two NEH programs that spring, one in Boston and the other at The Henry Ford. As a history major, I was very excited about the idea of Boston. Being a Michigan resident, I had been to The Henry Ford numerous times in my life and I "knew" what was there. I knew I would be happy with either location and a week of studying history is pretty much what history nerds want, right?! 

I was honored to get the letter inviting me to The Henry Ford even if I was a little disappointed that I would not spend three weeks in Boston. I was somewhat concerned because as I left school in June, I knew that my schedule for the next school year was World History and AP European History - not necessarily classes that I thought related to Michigan or the collection at The Henry Ford. 

Was I in for a surprise. My week at The Henry Ford blew me away. Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, and the Ford Rouge Factory offered social, economic, and political history for the US and technological artifacts that directly related to the worldwide Industrial Revolution. I came back to school with images of technologies that had propelled the world into the modern era and new ideas of how to share those images with my students. On top of the sheer number artifacts, the staff of The Henry Ford also put together a collection of speakers with expertise beyond any I had studied before. 

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Learning about steam engines with Chief Curator Marc Greuther.

That first year back I did not have the time or the resources to take my students to The Henry Ford, but I showed clips and shared my experiences. In 2015 I was given the opportunity to teach AP US History and my main goal was to get my students to the museum and village. With the help of a grant from The Henry Ford my first class of 40 AP US History students got to spend a day at both locations. We spent the morning in the rain wandering around the village and seeing the buildings and pieces of history.  The afternoon was warmer and drier and we were able to wander through the museum and see artifacts that we were reading about in the classroom. 

In 2016 the interior design teacher and I brought two buses of students to see the village and we wandered through time, seeing the changes in American life from the colonies to the 1920s. We rode the train and watched as The Henry Ford’s artisans showed how everyday items were created with past technology. With both visits, my time at the workshop came flooding back. I could share with my students details about the buildings, artifacts, and museum history that are not available to just any visitor.  I felt like I took them on a journey through time. Both years I was able to use the trip to make connections that would have been more abstract without those personal experiences. More than half of my students had never been to the village or museum before this trip.  

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NEH teachers learn by doing on the Weiser Railroad in Greenfield Village. 

I asked some students to share their experiences and here is what a few had to say.

"Throughout the field trip I enjoyed seeing many historical buildings that contributed to American History. I didn't think I would ever get a chance to see the laboratory where the Wright Brothers did their famous work. I had seen pictures of their workshop when I created a project on them in middle school. Overall a great experience."

"It was fascinating to actually see the stuff that we read about in textbooks. The Thomas Edison exhibit was interesting because there was indoor electricity but still had an outhouse. "

"I mean personally for me, it was just amazing to see things and stuff that didn't even originate in Michigan. The fact everything there is kept as detailed and accurate as possible amazes me. The old style homes were crazy and definitely reflected the location they belong in in their architectural design.  So simply put it was a fantastic opportunity to learn a lot about not just our state, but others and see the different technological advancements."

My last day at The Henry Ford my family came down to visit and we spent an extra day taking our daughters around the museum and village. Needless to say, we left with a family membership and have been back at least three times a year since. We have shared the experience with friends and family and watched the World Series of Historic Baseball and ice skated during the Christmas festivities. We saw Gridiron Glory and grooved to the Beatles in The Magical History Tour. It is our day trip destination of choice.  

Leah Markey is a Social Studies Teacher at Heritage High School in Saginaw. Mich.

Michigan, by Leah Markey, field trips, education, teachers and teaching

With Henry Ford Museum now being called Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, it brings about some reminiscing thoughts of the artifacts that stand out as the most innovative. While the name of the overall destination remains The Henry Ford, the organization is extending Henry Ford Museum’s name to better convey the core idea of innovation that threads throughout its key collection.

Some of the curators at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation had the same reminiscing thoughts, and each chose an artifact that stood out to them as the most innovative. When asked to choose an artifact from the museum that symbolized innovation, a lot of the curators had trouble picking just one.
Debra Reid - Curator of Agriculture and the Environment 
The manure spreader displayed in the agriculture exhibit inside Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation looks more like a work of art than a piece of farm equipment. Laborers painted the wooden box yellow and red, added pinstripes, and stenciled the manufacturer’s name and model number prominently on its exterior. This made the spreader a moving advertisement during the Golden Age of agriculture, roughly 1900 to 1920.

During this time some farmers profited from high market prices paid for the commodities that they grew. The spreader symbolized their investment in new ways of doing business. They purchased more land, built new farm buildings including corn cribs and dairy barns, and bought pure-bred livestock and new agricultural equipment to help them do their jobs. The spreader reduced the labor required to move increasing amounts of manure from barns and stables and apply it to their arable land. The machine distributed the organic manure and its three essential elements (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) more evenly than pitching manure from a cart onto the fields. Not all farmers practiced such intensive animal husbandry, and thus, they had little use for such innovations,but the spreader answered the prayers of other farm families with livestock housed in barns and stables and fields in need of nutrients.


Jim Johnson - Curator of Landscaping and Historic Structures
My favorite innovative object is the Newcomen Steam Engine. Though it is not the actual very first one, it is among the first design generation of the world’s first steam engine and in essence, represents the birth of the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the machine age. By having this direct association with the Industrial Revolution, the Newcomen is at the foundation of what would become the world we live in today.


Donna Braden - Curator of Public Life

Among my favorite innovative artifacts in the museum are the small and often-unnoticed plastic dishes in the 1950s (“Buying the Future”) case in Driving America, part of the raised timeline. Dishes made of the chemical melamine (sometimes referred to as Melmac) became wildly popular during the 1950s because industrial products like this were considered a sign of progress and modernity; their minimal design was thought to be“sleek” and “modern”; they were marketed as unbreakable and thus were considered perfect for Baby Boomer kids; and their bright colors, as shown in the case and the exhibit, perfectly matched the colors of other consumer products of the time, like cars. I also chose these dishes because they are so darned ordinary-looking and because, growing up in a large family of Baby Boomer kids myself, my mom always opted for anything that didn’t break and we had a set of these ourselves.


Charles Sable - Curator of Decorative Arts 
I have many "favorite" objects in the Museum. One that I am particularly fond of is Victor Schreckengost's "Jazz Bowl" (1931) located in "Your Place in Time." What I find fascinating about it is how Schreckengost was able to adapt the cubist aesthetic found in European and American high art to a punch bowl. Further, he made cubism serve as a narrative of New Year's Eve in New York City.


Matt Anderson - Curator of Transportation
Ah, that’s always the question a curator dreads most. The truth is, my favorite object tends to change on a daily basis! That said, I have a soft spot for Henry Ford’s 1896 Quadricycle. In and of itself, the vehicle really isn’t innovative, but it represents Ford’s all-out devotion to his dream – spending so much of his free time (and even a little work time) putting this little car together in the shed behind his house. It’s also a fine example of Ford’s philosophy to learn by doing. He certainly could read plans and blueprints, but Ford was most comfortable working in three dimensions. What does it take to build a working automobile? Henry Ford thought the best way to answer that question was to just go ahead and build one! Of course, without the Quadricycle, we never would’ve gotten Ford’s signature innovation: the well-designed, well-built and affordable Model T.


Kristen Gallerneaux - Curator of Communication & Information Technology 
My favorite artifacts change all the time, but lately on my daily walks through the museum, I’ve been stopping to visit the Eames kiosk that originally appeared at the IBM Pavilion in the 1964 New York World’s Fair. I love this piece because its connections to innovation are invisible or hidden in plain sight, waiting to be revealed. It might seem like an unlikely-looking thing to have been witness to computing history—but it was. Kiosks like this one were used by IBM at the World’s Fair to demonstrate new technologies—including one of the first public demonstrations of optical character recognition, and a new computer-based language translation service. Our particular kiosk was used as a canopy to protect elements of the Mathematica exhibit. As for the “hidden in plain sight” moment, if you stoop down and peek under the canopy, you’ll find an image of a bouquet of flowers printed underneath. These wildflowers were picked in Zeeland near Herman Miller’s offices, shipped on dry ice to the Eames Office in California, artfully arranged by Ray Eames—and finally photographed by Charles.

These are just a few of the artifacts that showcase different types of innovation here on the floor of Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation; what's your favorite?

Halie Keith is a Media & Film Relations Intern at The Henry Ford.
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"Flatland" book image by James Han

When Chris Lauritzen at YouTube in October 2014 to start a book design and publishing studio called Epilogue, he expected to have a working version of his first title — a reissue of Edwin A. Abbott’s cult classic "Flatland" — ready by the holidays. So much for expectations: The launch party was held in April 2016. 

Not that Lauritzen was slacking off in the intervening year and a half. Independently publishing a print book these days, especially one conceived as a beautiful art object, takes a serious, long-term commitment. Lauritzen didn’t just have to design
"Flatland" — to conceptualize it, typeset it, illustrate it and prototype it. He also had to crowdfund it and then look all over the country (plus Canada) for those few remaining specialty shops that would suit his various printing, binding and shipping needs. All of which raises the obvious question: Why? Who would want a meticulously crafted print edition of a 130-year-old public-domain text in 2016? Especially when print is, if not dead, then certainly struggling?

Lauritzen’s answer is to question the question: He believes it’s a glorious, singular time for the print medium.

SMALL BOOK, BIG IMPACT
At one time, everything was printed on paper: ads, fliers, brochures, pamphlets, notes. Or, as Lauritzen characterizes that stuff: “Junk. Ephemeral noise.” But over the years, much of that material has gone digital, clearing the printed world of clutter.

“By choosing to do something in print, you’re saying this thing is worth a damn,” Lauritzen said. “Print is starting to become its own quality filter.”

Lauritzen knew he wanted to apply that filter to something in the public domain, a vast collection of works that anyone can use, print and distribute without permission. But he
wasn’t aware of "Flatland" until a friend suggested he check it out.

Written in 1884 by the English scholar Edwin A. Abbott, "Flatland"
is a small book about a big subject: multiple dimensions. The narrator, a square
named (fittingly) A. Square, lives on a flat 2-D plane, but he’s forced to consider what the 3-D world of Spaceland might look like when a sphere from there pays him a visit.

Ian Stewart, an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick in England who published an annotated version of "Flatland" in 2002, considers Abbott’s book one of the earliest works of popular science. “There’s really nothing
else like it,” Stewart said. “It was completely original and unusual.”

The book wasn’t just about having fun in multiple dimensions, though. Abbott used geometry to challenge Victorian norms about the role of women in society — math as a tool for social progress. Some didn’t get it; many did. The first edition sold out quickly, and it has been in print ever since, a favorite among a wide range of readers who wonder about their place in the world.

Lauritzen was an immediate convert — it was exactly what he was looking for. Given its largely two-dimensional setting, he felt it would play nicely with his skill set as a graphic designer. But more than that, "Flatland" had a following, not huge but passionate, that was rather unhappy with the editions of the book currently available.

NOT JUST FOR SHOW
Because works in the public domain can be accessed for free, there’s not much financial incentive for a publisher to put out nice editions. "Flatland" is no exception. It exists in a variety of terrible formats, from websites and PDFs to cheesy print runs that feel more like pamphlets than books. “It’s really unsatisfying,” Lauritzen said.

So, when he launched a Kickstarter in April 2015, that was his selling point: the chance for a beloved classic to get the makeover it deserved. The goal was $24,000; he raised well over three times that ($81,777, to be exact). Then the real challenge — making
the book — began. Even though Lauritzen intended the reissue to be something of a collector’s item, he didn’t want a finished product that was destined for a coffee table,
untouched and unread.

“It shouldn’t be a fetishized object,” he said. “The sooner you throw it on the ground, the better.”

To that end, he chose to make it softcover, with thick paper and extra-wide margins for writing in. The floating spine means you can bend the pages back as much as
you want and the binding won’t crack. Lauritzen also appended a visual guide, full of exquisite black-and-white illustrations that illuminate various concepts in the text. He’s
now working on a supplementary online library of shapes — “an education/ art experience for students of geometry,” he said. Finally, to add heft, he designed an elegant gray slipcase, stamped with a silver tesseract.

This wasn’t a solo production, of course. At last year’s launch party, held in a small shop in San Francisco, Lauritzen thanked all of the people who helped him along the way — friends, family, the workers in Vancouver and Phoenix and Oakland who printed and bound and shipped the books. Of the 2,000 copies Lauritzen printed, roughly half were sent to Kickstarter backers, and the remainder are now available for $65 each, a price Lauritzen hopes will decrease in subsequent print runs.

You can tell Lauritzen is proud of the result. He flips through it lovingly — though he’s not afraid to bend a corner or mark up a page. The whole point is to get people to read it.

“Time was spent writing this thing, time was spent designing this thing, time was spent producing it, time was spent getting it into your hands,” he said. “That’s contagious. That’s something you can sense. It gives you permission to take time with it, to sit down and really delve in.”

Jason Kehe is a writer for The Henry Ford Magazine. This story originally ran in the March-May 2017 issue of the magazine

design, books, The Henry Ford Magazine, by Jason Kehe

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1989 Honda Accord

Inline 4-cylinder engine, overhead camshaft, 119 cubic inches displacement, 98 horsepower

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Using a front-wheel drive layout in a front-engine car allows for a compact design, but it requires some clever packaging under the hood. The Accord’s automatic transmission is combined with a differential into a single unit called a transaxle, mounted on the passenger side of the engine. The transverse-mounted engine has three valves per cylinder – two intake and one exhaust.


Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

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Dozens of engines will be on view during Engines Exposed, but here Matt Anderson, Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford, describes some of his favorites to kick off this annual exhibit.

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1909 Ford Model T
Inline 4-cylinder engine, L-head valves, 177 cubic inches displacement, 22 horsepower

Early Model T engines circulated cooling water with a gear-driven pump, visible just behind this engine’s fan. After 2,500 units, Ford switched to a simpler – and less expensive – thermosiphon system dependent on natural convection. Model T never used an oil pump. The flywheel, spinning in an oil bath, simply splashed the lubricant around. The engine and transmission efficiently shared the same oil supply.

Driving America, Henry Ford Museum, Ford Motor Company, engines, cars, Model Ts

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The 2016 Teacher Innovator Award Winners: Far Back: Scott Weiler. From Left to right: Fabian Reid, Catherine Turso, George Hademenos, Jill Badalamenti, Cindy Lewis, Leon Tynes, Tracie Adams, Maureen Foelkl. (Unable to attend: Jessica Klass)

Next year, 2017, will mark the third year for the Teacher Innovator Awards, a program sponsored by The Henry Ford and Litton Entertainment, the producers of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. This contest recognizes teachers who are innovative in the classroom, who inspire their students to think creatively, who are resourceful, and who make a positive impact on those around them from their students to their community. Ten grand-prize winners will be given an all-expenses paid trip to The Henry Ford for a five-day “Innovation Immersion Experience.” So what does that entail exactly?

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The 2015 Teacher Innovator Award winners. From Left to Right: Joe Morris, Donna Gradel, Linda Reimond, Lyle Crossley, Melissa Collins, Jamie Ewing, Saba Ghole, Mark Suter, Wrayna Fairchild, Laura Bradley. (Unable to attend: Bobby Moore.)

Well, for five days the winners will explore the grounds of The Henry Ford. They will be treated to curator-led tours of The Henry Ford where they will learn about innovation through the lens of manufacturing as they can build a Model T, exploration as they learn about the early days of airplanes, automobile, and trains, and social change where they can hear the story of Rosa Parks while sitting on the very bus where she helped start the Civil Rights movement. These and countless other artifacts from mammoth steam engines from the early Industrial Revolution to Henry Ford’s personal violin collection await our guests every day.

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The 2016 winners building a Model-T within Henry Ford Museum.

They will traverse Greenfield Village where one can truly see how those in the past lived as the homes of innovative luminaries, such as the Wright Brothers, are open to the public. They can visit a working farm, watch as glass is blown in our own glass shop, ride a Model T or take a train ride around the village. They can experience firsthand the spirit of innovation which was needed for society to progress.

“…The Henry Ford helps teachers inspire their students to be the same kind of innovative, risk-taking, hands-on, problem-solving people that made America so great.” - Laura Bradley, 2015 Teacher Innovator Award winner.

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The 2016 winners exploring the Wright Cycle Shop in Greenfield Village.

The winners will also get to experience the height of modern innovation as they tour The Ford Rouge Factory, witnessing the modern assembly line at work as Ford F-150s are built right in front of them. By studying the history of this factory our educators will see examples of innovation in manufacturing, industry, and society itself.

“A week at The Henry Ford opened my eyes to not only Ford’s legacy, but also to the power of teaching our students to be innovators themselves.” - Laura Bradley, 2015 Teacher Innovator Award winner.

Our winners will explore the archives of The Henry Ford, viewing artifacts and hearing stories not generally available to the public. They will explore Maker Faire Detroit, witnessing a yearly gathering of innovators from all over the area who come to show off their ideas, designs, and products. The winners can even take in a movie at our Giant Screen Experience if they wish!

Finally, to pull the week together for our winners, members of our Learning and Engagement team will instruct the educators in the use of our innovation curricula, giving them a new tool to use with their students.

“…I was truly inspired to bring it all back to my classroom and my students... The unit on innovative thinking truly transformed the way my students think and approach problems and projects.” - Jamie Ewing, 2015 Teacher Innovator Award winner.

When it’s all said and done, the teachers who win this contest will leave The Henry Ford with a number of gifts, a beautiful award handcrafted in our glass shop, and a new understanding of the concept and practices of Innovation. Most importantly though is they will leave The Henry Ford knowing that their efforts in education are appreciated and that they are not alone in the struggle to reform our classrooms as these experiences will be shared as a group, a group of equally innovative educators and future collaborators.      

“I now have nine additional educators I feel connected to for future inspirational teaching lessons”. - Maureen Foelkl, 2016 Teacher Innovator Award winner.

If you know an educator, or are one yourself, who is innovative, creative, and resourceful, please take the time to apply for the Teacher Innovator Awards.

The Henry Ford Innovative Educator award has been so much more than just being recognized. It is truly about helping to transform me as an educator, thinker, and problem solvers. It has inspired me!”- Jamie Ewing, 2015 Teacher Innovator Award winner  

Frederick Rubin is the Coordinator for The Learning and Engagement Department at The Henry Ford. Blog posts by Laura Bradley and Maureen Foelkl regarding their experiences at The Henry Ford’s Teacher Innovator Awards can be found here and here.

innovation learning, education, by Frederick Rubin, Teacher Innovator Awards, teachers and teaching

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What do Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd have to do with Ford Motor Company? (Well, besides the fact that Ford cars appear in a number of their films) The Ford Motor Company Safety Department. It’s strange to think of these two physical comedians as poster boys of safety, but through weekly films on safety issues the Safety Department used innovative techniques to prevent accidents by showing the right and wrong way of performing jobs and using machines and tools, often using Keaton and Lloyd films as comic examples of unsafe behavior. Safety, however, was taken very seriously at Ford and was seen as so important that early on in the 1910s the role of safety engineering and inspection was removed from the Medical Department and set up as a separate department.

Headed up by Robert Shaw, the department was established in 1914 and was responsible for machine safety, job safety, as well as hygienic safety (the full title of the department was the Safety and Hygiene Department). The first safety committee included P.E. Martin, C.E. Sorensen, C.W. Avery, the minutes stated: “it is the aim of the Safety Committee to reduce the number and serious nature of accidents. The assistance of every Ford man is needed in this work.” And assistance they got. By 1922, the department had around thirty inspectors, some general and some specialists, it also included a bacteriologist who examined areas in the factory to help stop the spread of disease, and a range of cleaners who sanitized, scrubbed, and scoured every inch of the factory to make sure the environment was as germ-free and clean for the workers as a factory could be.

Of the inspectors, some were general, and some specialized in specific areas or machines in the factory. John Wagner, who joined the department in 1922, worked on punch presses and noted when he started workers were losing an average of 16 fingers a month on press punches alone. Wagner designed several guards and safety mechanisms for machines, noting, “we never designed a guard like a pair of handcuffs that would pull men's hands back. I never approved of them. The men resented that type of guard. The sweep guard was not resented.” Shaw also noted that “we never liked harnessing a man to a machine.” Every machine in the factory was inspected and new guards or devices installed as necessary, any new machines had to be approved by the department, and they were consulted when new machines were being designed.

Shaw worked not only to fix machines that caused accidents, but also to heighten awareness of unsafe behavior and correct problems before they caused injury. Weekly safety bulletins were published, posters were posted, articles appeared in the Ford Man, and safety slogans and tips were printed on the back of each man’s timecard. Safety statistics for each department would be compiled monthly and distributed to all the departments for contests with departments competing against each other for the best safety record. The department hosted safety sessions where they showed movies, performed skits, and gave talks designed for individual departments and the safety hazards they faced. Safety rallies, parades, and picnics were hosted at different plants and branches in Detroit with the Ford Motor Company Band entertaining the crowd.

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The department created safety cards for each job, which men has to read, sign, and turn in to the foreman who then carried them and used them to coach employees when they didn’t follow safety rules. Each new man was trained in safety procedures for his job before he started and was held accountable for complying with regulations. If a man was caught in violation of a safety regulation, such as running in the factory (with or without scissors), cleaning a machine while it was running, or using mushroom head tools that could catch and pull a man into a machine, they were sent up to the safety office to read through the safety bulletins and look at photos of industrial accidents from the plant. In rare cases of severe violation, a man was suspended, and if even more rarely, they were laid off for repeat safety offenses.

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The pamphlet, Factory Facts from Ford noted in 1917: “Safety work concerns not only the loss of fingers and injuries of this nature, but undertakes to protect the health of the men as well.” To this end the hygiene side of the department pumped in washed air “at just the right temperature for comfort and efficient work,” provided filtered and cooled water in drinking fountains that were sanitized multiple times a day, placed dust collection systems in dusty work areas, and scrubbed the floors at least once a week, boasting that cleaners swept “even the spaces which the average housewife passes over.”

Shaw extended the Ford safety program outside the company as well and was a founding member of the Detroit Industrial Safety Council. The council was composed of various Detroit area manufacturers and focused on reducing accidents through increased awareness, better machines and guards, and improving factory policies and environment.

Kathy Makas is a Reference Archivist for the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford. The Benson Ford Research Center is open Monday-Friday 9:00-5:00. Set up an appointment in our reading room or AskUs a question here.

TIA_award

For the past two years The Henry Ford has had the privilege of honoring a select group of educators who demonstrated the ability to teach their subjects in innovative ways, inspiring their students to think creatively. They accomplish in their classrooms what we at The Henry Ford strive to accomplish every day with our guests; conveying innovation concepts and practices.

Now, The Henry Ford and Litton Entertainment are proud to sponsor a third year of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation Teacher Innovator Awards so that another crop of educators can be honored. Just as The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation seeks out the stories of forward-looking visionaries and innovators each week, we are looking for teachers who showcase an original and creative approach to teaching, inspire innovation in their students, exhibit resourcefulness, engage students, and are making a positive impact on not only their classroom but their community, colleagues, administrators, school, and/or district.

Twenty teachers in total will receive prizes, with the top ten grand prize winners receiving a week-long “Innovation Immersion Experience” at The Henry Ford. Winners will be announced in June.

Nominate yourself or a teacher you know by completing the online submission form (click on the “apply now” button). Tell us what innovation means to you and show us how you teach it to your students. Be sure to include supporting materials that show an innovative teaching methodology, curriculum, and/or model in action. All entries must be submitted by the February 28, 2017 deadline.

Please be sure to read our official rules carefully before nominating. For more details about the awards or the television show please go here.

We look forward to learning how teachers across the country are innovating in their classrooms.

Frederick Rubin is Engagement and Learning Coordinator at The Henry Ford.

innovation learning, Teacher Innovator Awards, teachers and teaching, education, by Frederick Rubin