Courage is a word we hear a lot. Sometimes it feels appropriate – when a newscaster talks about a soldier departing for a tour of duty or a first responder enduring personal risk to help others. Sometimes it seems overblown – like a sports announcer describing a coach’s call at the end of a game. Its usage has become so commonplace; in fact, it’s a word that can be easy to ignore.
On Monday, February 3, I was among the 400 people who heard Jessica Buchanan tell her story at the second annual National Day of Courage at The Henry Ford – an event to commemorate the extraordinary courage of the civil rights icon, Rosa Parks. Jessica was a young aid worker teaching children in Somalia how to avoid the dangers of land mines and unexploded munitions when she and a co-worker were kidnapped and held in captivity for 93 days. Their ordeal ended in January 2012 when they were rescued by the brave men of the U.S. Navy, Seal Team 6.
Without question, Jessica’s survival and rescue were acts of courage. Her strength and resiliency kept her alive then and keeps her moving forward now. But to me, her tale of courage began long before her kidnapping.
From all accounts, Jessica was a bright, capable young woman. Fresh out of college, she could have chosen a career in any field she wanted. She chose to commit her time and her talents to helping improve the lives of people half a world away. Working first in Kenya and then in Somalia, Jessica put herself in danger to make the world a little bit safer for others.
Nelson Mandela once said that “courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Jessica Buchanan knew the risk she was taking when she chose to work in war-torn Africa. She wasn’t naïve or fearless. But she went anyway. And she almost paid the ultimate price.
When asked by a student at Monday’s event, Jessica said she’d still go again, even knowing what she knows now. Her belief in making a difference in this world is that strong. Her willingness to sacrifice for that belief has not wavered.
To me, that’s the real courage in this story – standing strong in your conviction to do the right thing, even if it means sacrificing your own comfort and safety for the greater good. I don’t know of a better way to honor the conviction and sacrifice of Rosa Parks than in remembering a similarly selfless act of courage by another young woman nearly 50 years later.
Matthew J. Wesaw is Executive Director Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Usually a copy of a copy isn’t always a great thing. But if this copy happens to be a copy of a “A Domestic Cook Book,” written by America’s first African-American cookbook author Malinda Russell, it IS a great thing.
As the beginning of Janice’s introduction reveals, Malinda was a free woman of color in the 1800s. At the age of 19 she was to travel to Liberia, but after having money stolen from her she had to stay in Virginia. She worked as a cook and traveled as a companion, serving as a nurse. After her husband’s death, Malinda moved to Tennessee and kept a pastry shop. A second robbery forced her out of Tennessee into Paw Paw, Michigan, “...the garden of the west.” As Janice notes, the “receipts” in her book are incredibly diverse on account of her travels near and far. Malinda’s personal account of her life’s story takes you back into history, making you realize just how important her life’s work was then and is now.
Not only does the facsimile contain more than 250 recipes from Malinda, but it also houses medical and household hints, too. In the Clements Library at the university, the preserved original copy joins the ranks of other early African-American cookbooks, including “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,” a name very familiar to guests at Greenfield Village.
Like so many of the historic recipes found in the collections here at The Henry Ford, this copy of A Domestic Cook Book provides great inspiration for our programming team in Greenfield Village. Cathy Cwiek, Manager of Historic Foodways and Domestic Life Programs at The Henry Ford, especially enjoys pouring over the book reading about Malinda’s fascinating story and her favorite recipes. Here are two of Cathy’s favorite recipes from the book, shared just as Malinda wrote them, that you can try at home.
A Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen
By Malinda Russell, an experienced cook.
Printed by T.O. Ward at the “True Northerner” Office
Paw Paw, Mich., 1866
Ginger Pop Beer
Five and a half gallons water, 3-4ths lb ginger root bruised, half ounce tartaric acid, two and 3-4ths lbs white sugar, whites of three eggs well beaten, one teaspoonful lemon oil, one gill yeast. Boil the root thirty minutes in one gallon of water. Strain off and put the oil in while hot. Make over night; in the morning kim and bottle, keeping out the sediment.
Take the shank bone, boil until tender; chop fine, potatoes, onions, and cabbage, and boil until done; season with salt, pepper, parsley, rosemary, or sweet margery. Rub the yolk of one egg into the three tablespoons flour, rubbed into rolls and dropped into the soup to boil.
Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.
Making Christmas ornaments in Henry Ford Museum, Christmas Eve 1986.
Earlier this month I was sent this blog post from Target showcasing some of their holiday ads from the past 60 years. From Christmas tree-filled print ads to YouTube-ready TV commercials, the post was a hit with many of my co-workers here at The Henry Ford.
The post got me thinking to some of my favorite holiday memories of THF. Growing up in southeastern Michigan, my parents were (and still are) proud members of Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. One of our Christmas traditions every year was to visit the museum on Christmas Eve. We looked forwarded to making ornaments, adding our names to the huge visitor paper chain and, of course, taking our family picture by the Christmas tree.
As I thought about my favorite memories here, I wondered what kind of holiday programming memorabilia we had in our collections? Turns out, there's quite a bit!
Take a look at just a few samples of holiday programming from over the years at The Henry Ford.
Visitors to Greenfield Museum in 1964 were treated to "period decorations" for the first time. What could guests expect as they toured the Village? From this 1964 pamphlet:
Appropriate Christmas decorations, authenticated in each instance by careful research, have been installed in the 17th-century Cotswold Cottage, the 18th-century Secretary House, and the 19th-century Noah Webster House, Wright Homestead, and Ford Homestead, as well as in the Clinton Inn and the Martha-Mary Chapel. These buildings will be highlights of the regular guided tours during the holidays.
In the mood to learn more about crafting? Henry Ford Museum was the place for you during Christmas 1976! During the holiday season guests could learn about toymaking, counted thread embroidery, lace making, crewel embroidery, Christmas card painting, quilting, tinsmithing, broom making, candle making, glass blowing, weaving, doll making, cookie baking, basket making AND tole painting. Phew!
Need to know more about what was going on in the museum that year? Dial the Village Party Line!
In the 1980s, visitors enjoyed "Yuletide Evenings" in Greenfield Village, complete with sleigh ride tours and dinner inside Eagle Tavern.
While you might not think of a safari when you first think of the museum, children were definitely on the lookout with Santa in 1986 thanks to this holiday scavenger hunt. Chances are pretty good that I was one of those kids!
In the 1990s, the holidays were all about being a "unique event" in the museum and Village.
The American celebration of the holiday season (Christmas and New Year's) has evolved over several centuries and today offers us a wide range of customs and practices. Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village embraces many of these historical traditions and brings them to life 14 evenings in December each year.
One interesting custom, now most associated with New Year’s Eve, was the “shooting in of Christmas.” In the decades just prior to the Civil War, both urban and rural Americans took part in similar activities on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's. All these activities had the same goal in mind - making as much noise as possible. In rural areas, which made up much of what was the U.S. in the 1840s and 1850s, guns were the noise makers of choice. Either as an individual, shooting to make their presence known, or as a gang roaming from farm to farm shooting a coordinated volley just outside an unfortunate’s occupant’s window, bringing in the holiday as loudly as possible was met with much enthusiasm.
In urban areas these activities were even more intensified. For instance, in 1848 it was noted that in Pittsburgh “the screams of alarmed ladies, as some young rogue discharges his fire crackers at their feet” augmented the din created by “juvenile artillerists” who have invaded that city at Christmas time. “Wretched is now the youngest who cannot raise powder; and proud, indeed, is the warlike owner of a pistol…”* All manner of home-made explosive devices, including crude rockets, flares, and roman candles were highly prized and used in great abundance to welcome the holiday.
The larger-scale firework displays we are more familiar with today have origins in the 18th century and “illuminations” involving large bonfires and aerial fireworks were popular in London for special celebrations throughout that century. They became popular in America even before the American Revolution and through the end of the 18th century and well into the mid-19th century, marking special occasions well beyond just the Fourth of July. Today, this tradition of making noise has been relegated to New Year’s Eve.
During Holiday Nights, we celebrate the finale of each evening with a fireworks display.
* Restad, Penne L., Christmas in America, Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1995, pp.39-40.
Jim Johnson is Senior Manager of Creative Programs at The Henry Ford.
When you look at wool, have you ever stopped to think about how it takes on its rich, vibrant colors? The practice of dyeing wool dates back centuries and was an important part of the work of Sam and Anna Daggett.
On the Daggett Farm in 1760 Connecticut, Sam and Anna raised sheep and owned a loom for the weaving of wool in their home. Dyeing was a big part of the process.
Today’s synthetic dyes hadn’t been invented when the Daggetts would have been dyeing wool. Instead, they used a natural process using the materials found in nature.
Various colors can be obtained through plants. For example, logwood, which is imported from the rainforest, produces beautiful purple colors, whereas madder root, which is actually grown in Greenfield Village, creates red and orange variations.
“Many of the dyes used back then are of ancient origin, some are imported; others can still be grown in the new world. Here, we use a combination of new and old world dye matter,” explains Cathy Cwiek, our Manager of Historic Foodways and Domestic Life programs.
What kind of materials can be used to create different colors?
Woad: an ancient plant dye that we use to create the color blue
Pokeberry: a weed that creates a pink dye
Osage Orange heartwood shavings: create a fluorescent yellow
Cochineal: a small insect that feeds on prickly pear cacti and gives off a red color. (A favorite of Cathy’s, it’s used as a natural dye in food products, too)
How do we dye wool in Greenfield Village?
First, we have to shear the sheep. This takes place once a year, usually in the spring.
Next, we pick and wash the fleece.
Then, the wool fibers are pulled in one direction by small hand cards (brushes) to help soften and untangle the wool. This process would take families months. Carding machines were later invented to mechanize the process.
The wool is then spun and turned into yarn on a spinning wheel.
Before dyeing, the yarn is wound into skeins.
Skeins are soaked in a mordant, a chemical that helps set colors to fabrics. We use vinegar and alum as a mordant for most plants, and spectralite for indigo plants. This can be done prior to dyeing or the mordant can be put in the dyeing pot.
To prepare the dye pot, put plant matter in a loose cloth and simmer until the color is extracted. Simmer wool in dye pot until the desired color is reached.
Rinse the wool.
The time required for this process varies depending on the kind of plant material being used and desired color. After that’s done, the wool is ready for a variety of uses.
“We knit hats, mittens, socks, scarves and anything else families would wear in that time period. It’s really a rewarding process,” Cathy said.
As you think about dyeing your own wool, look around you for inspiration.
“Experiment. Recently, I found a bright orange/yellow fungus growing on a tree. I dried it out and now I’m excited to see what color it will produce!” Cathy said.
Take a look at this video to see the dyeing process in action here at The Henry Ford.
Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.
If you’ve visited the Ford Home during Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village, you’ve no doubt felt your mouth water as you gazed upon the beautiful Charlotte Russe cake on the Fords’ dining room table. The cake has been a must-bake dessert for us for years and a guest favorite. Beyond knowing that it’s pretty in appearance and tastes heavenly, what do you know about this centuries-old dessert?
A Charlotte Russe is a hot or cold cake with a filling of fruit and custards formed in a molded pan; if you had to select a similar dessert, a trifle would be your best bet. Invented by French chef Antonin Carême in the 1800s, the cake was named in honor of George IV’s daughter Princess Charlotte and then-employer Czar Alexander. You can learn more about Anontonin in Ian Kelly’s book, “Cooking for Kings.”
By the late 1800s the cake had made its way to American tables, like that of the Fords. This layered cake would have been a very fancy presentation during the holidays and could have contained a number of fruit/filling combinations. In the colder months when fresh fruit wasn’t as available, families could have added preserved fruits and jams to make up the filling and stored it in a cellar to set. For a family living on a farm, all the ingredients you’d need were most likely in your backyard and in your pantry.
By the early 20th century, a variation of the Charlotte Russe became very popular as a street food in Brooklyn. The larger cake was scaled down to an individual size and presented in a push-up-pop fashion.
Today, the Charlotte Russe is limited only by your imagination and ingredients on hand. Molds can be found in antique stores or online. While the Fords might have filled their cake with strawberries or other preserves, how does a strawberry-kiwi-grape Charlotte Russe sound?! Pretty tasty, if you ask us.
Try making your own Charlotte Russe at home and let us know how you make it your own. Need more inspiration? Use the “Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink,” a favorite resource among staff at The Henry Ford, for ideas, or visit Greenfield Village during Holiday Nights.
2 tablespoons gelatin 1 cup sweet milk 1 cup cream 2 eggs (separated) 2 teaspoons vanilla ½ cup granulated sugar
Beat egg yolks thoroughly with ½ cup granulated sugar. Heat 1 cup milk. When hot, add gelatin and mix until dissolved. Cool down some and strain through colander into egg/sugar mixture. Flavor with vanilla. Whip 1 cup cream; fold into egg/milk mixture. Put a thin layer of jam or jelly on the bottom of the mold. Cut sponge cake into pieces to fit mold. Fill the center with custard. Harden in refrigerator.
Sponge Cake for Charlotte Russe
3 eggs 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 1 lemon 1 teaspoon soda 1 ½ cups powdered sugar 2 cups sifted flour ½ cup cold water
Mix together sifted flour, cream of tartar and soda. Grease a dripping pan. Separate the eggs. Set egg whites aside. In a separate bowl, add powdered sugar to egg yolks. Beat thoroughly. Squeeze half a lemon and add juice to ½ cup of water; add to sugar/yolk mixture. Beat egg whites to a froth; stir into egg and sugar mixture. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir without beating only long enough to get the flour well mixed. Pour into the pan and bake in a moderate oven.
Pick up everything you need to make these recipes at Meijer. For more recipes and inspiration, visit THF OnLiving.
Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.
Earlier this year Mother Nature Network posted a story about root vegetables with the headline “the most underappreciated produce.” While root vegetables might not have the glossy, shiny look of other produce finds in the grocery store today, they’re a staple for winter cooking and an important part of our diets for hundreds of years.
What is a root vegetable? Potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, rutabagas, beets, onions, garlic and yams are all root vegetables.
In the 18th century, fellow root vegetables skirrets and Jerusalem artichokes were common in many diets, along with the above offerings. During this time period, Americans’ palates were very explorative and diverse and included many takes on root vegetable preparation.
Take for example radishes. While radishes can often be found in our salads today as a small garnish, centuries ago they were grown to have large roots to consume. On the opposite hand, however, about 20 years before the Civil War, the carrot had primarily been viewed as a field crop; something you’d give to your horse to eat, not something to enjoy as a snack.
Families stored their vegetables in cellars or even in the ground during cold, winter months. From soups to stews and more, having a good supply of vegetables to choose from allowed the cook to experiment with different dishes.
Root vegetables would be cooked and dressed as part of the meal; eating them raw was unheard of, and is actually a relatively new way of enjoying them. Often times the vegetables would be cooked over an open fire with that day’s meat selection on a game roaster. Spices were added to the cooking for additional flavor.
As Americans diets and palates changed after the Civil War, the diversity in what we consumed changed into a less-exciting offering. Gone were the creative uses families a generation early had enjoyed.
At The Henry Ford today, we work hard to show our visitors what life was like for families who relied on what they created themselves; root vegetables are obviously a big part of that. Not only can you visit our homes and learn more about how a family, like the Daggetts, Firestones or Fords, prepared items like root vegetables in their own kitchens, you can taste them for yourself at one one of our restaurants.
If you’re curious to learn more about recipes including root vegetables, try looking at:
The next time you’re at the grocery store, take a step out of your comfort zone and try a new-to-you root vegetable. When you try something new, make sure to tell us what you thought of it and how you prepared it. To get you thinking, try these recipes for chicken fricassee with root vegetables and braised rabbit.
Chicken Fricassee with Root Vegetables INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp butter
3 chicken breasts, large dice
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups root vegetables, medium dice (parsnips, rutabaga and sweet potato)
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 pinch nutmeg
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
TT salt & pepper
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
Sauté chicken in butter in a hot large skillet until brown, take out of pan, reserve.
Add onions, root vegetables, thyme and bay leaf to pan and cook through.
Add white wine and reduce by half then add the cream, chicken and nutmeg and simmer for 6-8 minutes until chicken is cooked thorough and sauce thickens.
Season with lemon, salt and pepper, top with parsley.
Can be served with buttered noodles or other favorite side.
Eagle Tavern's Braised Rabbit INGREDIENTS
1 whole rabbit, 2.5-3 pounds
As needed all-purpose flour
Oil or butter to brown
1 cup Spanish onion, large dice
1/2 cup carrot, large dice
1/2 cup celery, large dice
1/4 cup turnip, large dice
1/4 cup rutabaga, large dice
1 cup red skin potatoes, large dice
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
6 cups chicken or rabbit stock
TT salt and pepper
Remove legs and arms off of rabbit with a sharp knife.
With a large knife or cleaver, chop off rib cage and tail portion for stock (if time permits roast these portions until brown and add to simmering chicken stock for bolder flavor).
Heat a braising pan or Dutch style oven until warm, season and dust rabbit pieces with flour and add slowly to pan to brown. By adding too quickly you will shock the pan and not allow proper browning and the rabbit may stick to the pan.
When rabbit has been nicely browned, take out of pan and reserve on a platter.
Add onion, carrots and celery, cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat then add remaining vegetables, potatoes and herbs, cook for 4-5 minutes more.
Add the rabbit back into the pot and then the stock.
Cover and place in a 350 degree oven for 1.5 hours or until the leg portions are tender and fall off the bone.
When tender add salt and pepper, taste adjust as needed.
Divide into four bowls and enjoy.
Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.
As every visitor discovers, The Henry Ford is about more than cars and trucks. But if its other exhibits are its heart, The Henry Ford’s world-class automobile collection might be its soul. For the first time, that collection is captured in one major book – Driving America: The Henry Ford Automotive Collection.
Showcasing 100 historically-significant vehicles spanning a century-plus, Driving America puts a spotlight on the collection’s perhaps unexpected diversity. While it reflects Henry Ford’s fascination with American progress, the collection combines vehicles from nearly every major (and a few not-so-major) automaker, both foreign and domestic.
Indeed, one of the collection’s most famous vehicles, the 1931 Type 41 Bugatti Royale, was born in Europe. In an essay, Bob Casey, The Henry Ford’s former Senior Curator of Transportation, explains that after its original owner fled Hitler’s Germany, the Royale was abandoned in a New York junk yard.
Eventually rescued by Buick’s Charles Chayne, the Royale was donated to The Henry Ford in 1957, where it still delights a half-century on.
Driving America is filled with such trivia, providing a greater close-up than is possible on a museum floor. Across nearly 300 pages, vivid illustrations capture details such as the 1957 De Soto Fireflite’s pushbutton transmission, and the 1980 Comuta-Car’s label-maker dashboard. Technical specifications for each vehicle are also included.
In this regard, Driving America, like the collection it beautifully, thoroughly documents, honors not only The Henry Ford’s focus on the everyday extraordinary, but the automobile’s defining role in life as it’s known, or might someday be.
Driving America, featuring a forward by Jay Leno and an introduction by Edsel Ford II, is available at The Henry Ford’s on-site gift shops and online shop. Special collector’s editions are also available.
Justin Mularski is a writer based in Detroit. He occasionally forsakes his laptop to read of times long past, cheer for the Tigers, or make lists of home improvement projects he’ll never actually complete.
During the first weekend of September, Greenfield Village celebrated the exciting sounds, scents, and sights of hundreds of vintage vehicles from the 1890s through 1932 during the 63rd annual Old Car Festival, America’s longest running antique car show. Many proud antique vehicle owners not only bring their cars, but get into the spirit of the event by dressing to match their car’s era which adds to the special ambience of this particular weekend long event.
Annually on the Saturday night of the festival, many visitors gather at the reviewing stand near the Thomas Edison statue to listen the talented Hotel Savarine Society Orchestra perform many of the popular songs of the 1920s while watching a group of energetic and enthusiastic dancers outfitted in elegant mid-1920s period clothing perform such dances as the Charleston, foxtrot and tango. Just as all the reproduction clothing and accessories in Greenfield Village are researched, designed and created on sight by The Clothing Studio of The Henry Ford, so are the vintage looks worn by the dancers.
This year, The Clothing Studio team worked collaboratively with the Creative Programs staff to create a more formal, “dressed up” head-to-toe 1920s look for the Old Car Festival dancers than in years past. The Roaring Twenties represented a break with traditions and the start to the modern age. It was a prosperous and exuberant time in history and, of course, the fashions of the time reflected this vibrancy. One of our challenges with creating these period accurate looks was that the clothing and accessories were not just for show – they also needed to be functional and durable since the dancers would be strolling through the village prior to spending two very active hours dancing outside.
Since men’s formal wear has generally changed little in over a hundred years, male dancers were elegantly dressed in a mix of black tuxedo styles which were appropriate for that era and remain stylish today. For formal occasions in the 1920s, men wore their tuxedos with white gloves and (when outdoors) top hats or even bowler hats. Special classically inspired touches such as suspenders, French cuffs with cufflinks and shoe spats helped to create an authentic look for each of our gentleman dancers.
As for the ladies, The Clothing Studio focused on many of the fashionable trends of the era celebrating new-found freedoms women enjoyed in the 1920s ranging from the right to vote to more relaxed fashions which finally freed women from the constraints of the corset. Bare arms and the appearance of bare legs with nude colored seamed stockings as well as shorter skirt lengths were visible signs of new celebrated relaxed attitudes. Some of the trends featured in the stunning outfits worn by our Old Car Festival female dancers included beaded fabrics, tiered shirts, drop waists, straight simple silhouettes and embellished shoes.
If you missed the vintage cars and fashions featured at this year’s Old Car Festival in Greenfield Village, be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s 64th annual Old Car Festival in September. Every year there is always a different mix of amazing vintage cars (and fashion) to enjoy.
Written by Tracy Donohue, General Manager, The Clothing Studio at The Henry Ford. Photos by Lindsey Grudnicki.
When you think of drinks at Eagle Tavern, does a classic cocktail come to mind? Many guests are often surprised to find that not only does Eagle Tavern serve some of the tastiest food from mid-19th-century Michigan, but also serves a selection of delicious alcoholic beverages from the time period. From punches to mint juleps, a meal at Eagle Tavern is definitely complete with a cocktail. However, if you're more temperance-minded, we do have several effervescing drinks to choose from, too, on our menu in the restaurant.
Earlier this summer we hosted a historic-themed cocktail party in Eagle Tavern for Yelp.com members. They got to try a few of our favorite cocktails while enjoying Eagle Tavern fare and the sounds of Picks & Sticks. That night we had our guests try the Calvin, Maple Bourbon Sour, Mint Julep, Raspberry Shrub and even a Firkin offering. If you're curious to try a drink from the Eagle Tavern bar, try one of these recipes during your next happy hour.
Need some inspiration to help you start mixing? Here are some offerings from our online store: