Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Meet Marion Corwell

October 8, 2014
Marion Corwell moderates our museum's TV quiz-show "You Name It" with teams of sixth-grade students in March 1960. Do you know the name of the object that she is holding for the television camera? (THF116045)

Marion Served as Manager of The Henry Ford's First Educational Television Department

In the early days of television, we became a pioneer in producing TV shows for use in the classroom.  It was a way to spark students' interest in the past, assist American history teachers, and fulfill our museum's educational mission. The first show, "Window to the Past" was broadcast by WTVS-Detroit television station beginning in the fall of 1955.  A weekly 15-minute program shown live in the afternoon on television sets in Detroit Public School classrooms, it was also captured on kinescope film and made available to schools nationally.  The museum's manager of educational television, Marion Corwell in a brochure described the programs as "designed to bring living American history into your classroom."  She planned the programs based on objects in the museum and village chosen for their important historical themes. She then wrote the scripts, produced the program and performed as the on-air "storyteller" for the televised show. By 1956 she also co-produced and hosted a 30-minute program designed for an adult audience and broadcast by WSPD-Toledo, "Yesterday Lives Today".

Following the final "Window to the Past" show in 1959 Marion Corwell developed several new television programs, including a quiz show, "You Name It".  She moderated this program which she described on-air as "a completely unrehearsed, unrigged quiz game built around objects of the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village which have played an important part in the development of our country." It featured two teams of 5th through 8th grade girls versus boys, competing to name the objects one at a time by asking questions that helped them come up with the correct name. Can you guess what the object is in the photo shown above?

Learn more about Marion Corwell over on our collections website.

Cynthia Read Miller is Curator of Photographs and Prints at The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

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