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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Henry Ford's First Driver's License

August 2, 2013

Driving without a license is a big no-no. It's against the law, right? Today, more than 200 million people in the U.S. have driver's licenses. It's even sort of a right of a passage into adulthood when teens get one.

Henry Ford was 56 when he became street legal in 1919. In part, this was because it was the first year Michigan, his home state, issued driver's licenses (Chicago was first in 1899). But mostly it was because his wife got a call from a police officer one day. The officer informed Mrs. Ford that her husband and grandson had been pulled over (supposedly for "driving like a bat out of hell") without licenses. When the two got home, she sent her grandson to his room and her husband got a stern talking to. So the story goes...

(This story originally appeared in the June-December 2013 issue of "The Henry Ford Magazine".)

Henry's 1919 license, along with his 1921 license, are held within the collections of The Henry Ford. What did other states' licenses look like in the 1920s? Take a look.

drivers, driving

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