We are more or less three-quarters of the way through the two-year timeframe on our “Museums for America” grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to conserve, catalog, photograph, and rehouse some of our communications collections. We’re pleased to report that as of now, we are on track with digitization of these objects, with 743 of 1,000 grant-related artifacts from our collections available online, and for many of these, we’ve been able to track down their specific origin. The insulator shown here, for example, was originally used on telegraph lines running along the Oregon Trail. Visit our collections website to see more of the insulators we’ve uncovered in our collection through this project. You can also learn more about the grant and see some of the behind-the-scenes work it entails on our blog, or peruse some of Curator of Communication and Information Technology Kristen Gallerneaux’s favorites here.
Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.
In tribute of today’s #MuseumWeek theme, #souvenirsMW, I thought I'd share with you one of the many special moments I have had working in the Benson Ford Research Center. You see, today’s theme encourages you to “share your souvenirs and memories of visits: photos, mugs, books, postcards, encounters and special moments” that you have had at a museum. In a broader sense, this theme focuses on the memories you’ve created and how you have documented those memories. It’s in this broader theme of memory, that I would like to point out the significance that museums and archives have in not only creating memories for you, but also preserving the memories of the past.
Today marks the first day of #MuseumWeek, a week-long global celebration of culture in which The Henry Ford is taking part in. This celebration will channel the power of social media to raise greater awareness and appreciation for the world’s cultural resources. With the use of social media, #MuseumWeek is inherently taking advantage of the abilities that we now take for granted. We can capture sound, video, and still images, as well as be electronically connected to almost anyone in the human family. All in the palm of our hand. In mere seconds, you can see what I see, you can hear what I hear, and you can know what I know. It’s this knowing, which I believe, is the most important part for museums. I think that the simple act of learning about something new, broadens your perspective. It allows you to reanalyze the world you experience to incorporate what you’ve learned. It allows you to reflect. Museums sharing this ability to know over social media can help expand everyone’s perspective. That’s why museums and the cultural resources they protect are crucial to our society.
I thought it was only right that I use this blog post to talk about someone who played a major role in making our social media connection possible: Thomas Edison. Pioneer in electricity, sound, and video. His inventions laid the groundwork for the digital age we know today and the social media network that we increasingly rely upon. The objects I chose to represent him give us an inside look at the story of a man who redefined what it meant to “work.”
Race car driver, commentator, author, motivational speaker. Competed in seven Indianapolis 500 races in nine years, including six consecutive years. Two-time competitor in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest endurance sports car race. Nine-time participant in the 12 Hours of Sebring race. Two wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona race. Owner of over 30 national and international speed records over a 20-year period. A courageous, determined, hardworking, record-breaking, and inspirational race car driver. A woman.
Are you surprised? We're describing Lyn St. James, one of the most influential female race car drivers in history. From her first professional race in 1973, to her last in 2000, Lyn St. James continually showed the motor sports world that not only could women compete with men on the race track, but that they would outlast them, outsmart them, and outrun them. Lyn St. James was a pioneer who embodies the saying that sometimes “it takes a woman to do a man’s job.”
Throughout her career, Lyn helped other female athletes build successful careers just like she had. She serviced as the President of the Women’s Sports Foundation for 3 years, and established her own charitable foundation, Women in the Winner’s Circle, in 1994. Her work with the foundation even led to the formation of a traveling museum exhibit about female drivers, created with The Henry Ford, in 2010.
A couple of weeks ago on the blog, we shared slides from the John Margolies Roadside America collection, newly digitized in anticipation of a Margolies exhibit coming to The Henry Ford later this year. However, John Margolies did not only take photographs of interesting places he encountered on the road; he also collected related items. We’ve just digitized about 300 pennants Margolies collected, representing various cities, states, parks, zoos, circuses, beaches, landmarks, and intriguing roadside attractions. On this colorful example, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox invite you to visit the Trees of Mystery along the Redwood Highway, California. To find out if your hometown or favorite childhood attraction is represented, visit our collections website and peruse all the digitized pennants—and see if you can spot any of them in the exhibit later this year!
Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.
If you’re out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day you’re sure to hear the sound of the bagpipes. In America, you’ll most likely hear the Scottish highland pipes, not the Irish uilleann pipes, but over the years the highland pipes have been assimilated into Irish culture and it’s hard to pass a St. Patrick’s Day celebration without hearing the familiar strain of the pipers. And speaking of bagpipes, did you know Ford Motor Company sponsored its own Pipe Band in the 1930s and 1940s?
The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit exhibit will be on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts from March 15, 2015 through July 12, 2015. As a community partner for the exhibit, The Henry Ford has been digitizing selections from our collection that document Diego Rivera’s creation of the Detroit Industry frescoes and Diego and Frida’s time in Detroit. Below are links to six sets within our digital collections that bring some additional context to the exhibition.
Edsel Ford funded the Detroit Industry frescoes, and Diego Rivera was inspired by the Ford Rouge Factory. As a result, Ford Motor Company, Edsel, Diego, and Frida became intertwined during the artists’ time in Detroit. This set features behind-the-scenes photographs of Diego, Frida, and others involved in the project; photos of Diego’s original drawings for the murals; a photograph taken by Ford Motor Company at Diego’s request; and correspondence between the DIA and Ford Motor Company about supplying glass and sand for the work.
Although they are seldom seen in action, snowplows are an important part of the railroad scene.
This snowplow, operated in rural New England and Canada, is one of 36 built by Canadian Pacific's Angus shops in Montreal between 1920 and 1929. It is a 20-ton, wedge-type plow made for use on a single track - it throws snow on both sides of the unit. Built without a self-contained power source, the snowplow was pushed by one or two locomotives. Its ten-foot overall width can be increased to 16 feet by the extension of the large hinged wings on its sides. Moveable blades at the front, designed to clear the area between the rails, can be raised at crossings to avoid damage to equipment.
The snowplow's cab contains compressed air tanks that control the wings and blades, as well as providing air for a whistle used by the plow operator to signal the locomotive engineer. The cab also contains a heating stove. This plow was in service from 1923 until 1990.
Chrysler experimented with turbine engines for some 25 years. The Turbine could run on almost anything – gasoline, diesel, kerosene, even peanut oil (with exhaust that smelled like baking cookies)! While the fuel flexibility was terrific, the fuel economy was less than stellar. Chrysler ended the Turbine program in 1979. Note the huge air filter housing in front of the engine. The Turbine gulped about four times more air than a piston engine.
Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.