Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Sarah's Doughnut

June 5, 2015

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Just days before her 12th child is born, 43-year-old Michigan farmwife Sarah Faught makes doughnuts for her family.  Sadly, Sarah dies soon after giving birth. Mourning her loss, the Faughts left behind decide to save, rather than eat, Sarah's last batch as well as the cutter that formed it. It's January 1890.

For the next 122 years, Sarah's descendants pass down the remaining doughnuts, cutter and story of their loved one. Food for fodder forever memorializing the enormity of a mother lost yet never forgotten.

This story originally appeared in the June-December 2015 edition of The Henry Ford Magazine. You can read the current issue here.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

 

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Now that it’s June, amusement park season is really ramping up. In doing some related research in our archives for an upcoming post, Curator of Public Life Donna Braden turned up several folders of Detroit Publishing Company photos, shot around 1905, showing various views of Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. We were so taken by these photos that we digitized all 80. You can now browse through photos of Coney Island at night (like the one shown here), the beach at Coney Island, and dozens of others. Visit our digital collections to see these images and other items related to Coney Island.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

Jim McCabe, Curator of Agriculture and The Environment

This year The Henry Ford has been very excited to be collaborating with the Detroit Institute of Arts, and other Detroit-area community organizations, to provide additional context for their current exhibit, "Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit." This year we've been digitizing parts of our collection that directly relate to Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, their relationship with Edsel Ford and Ford Motor Company, and the creation of the well-known frescos found in the DIA's Rivera Court.

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Because of the close involvement of Edsel Ford and Ford Motor Company in the project, our archives contain documents, photographs, and correspondence related to these subjects.

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Earlier this year a group of curators spent time in Rivera Court thinking about how their areas of expertise here at The Henry Ford connect in some way to Diego's murals. From agriculture to communications, each of our curators found an instant connection.

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Take a look at our curators' reflections in this series of videos shot on location at the DIA.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

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The weekend of May 15-17, 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of Maker Faire Bay Area, a flagship festival of the Make movement. I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend the Faire in order to speak about The Henry Ford’s recent acquisition of the Apple 1 computer. On Saturday morning, as I climbed the Make:Live Stage to present images and stories gathered from the auction, its arrival to the museum, and video of the computer operating—I was happy (okay, I’ll admit, even a little nervous)—to see a crowd of over 100 enthusiastic people gathered. The appeal of the Apple 1 and the museum’s excitement about its acquisition was well-understood by the extremely attentive audience.

After the presentation, I had time to take in a little of the festival, and am happy to report that the Maker movement is alive and very well in the world. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the weekend: Continue Reading

Dario Franchitti pilots the Lotus-Ford 38/1 around Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- 50 years after Jim Clark drove it to victory.

We’ve already made much about the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s win, with his rear-engine Lotus-Ford, at the 1965 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. But it is a big deal. History generally unfolds in a gradual process, but Clark’s victory was a singular turning point for the race. We were delighted that the folks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway agreed and, with generous assistance from the speedway's Hall of Fame Museum, invited us to take the car down for this year’s event.

We kicked off race weekend on Thursday with a great panel discussion open to the media. I was honored to sit with fellow panelists Clive Chapman, proprietor of Great Britain’s Classic Team Lotus and son of Colin Chapman – designer of our car; Leonard Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing – the oldest active team in NASCAR – and a member of Jim Clark’s 1965 pit crew; and Dario Franchitti, a three-time Indy 500 winner and four-time IndyCar Series Champion – and a certified Clark-ophile. Continue Reading

Photo by KMS Photography

What's on this weekend's episode of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation? Take a look!

 

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

In a current TV series celebrities donning white cotton gloves view documents and rare books as they learn about their family history. But is this really the way that professional museum and archives staff handle the hundreds or thousands of artifacts that are entrusted to their care?

What is the logic behind this practice?

The fact is that moisture, salt and dirt on human hands can damage artifacts and embed particles of dirt onto the surface of artifacts, this can permanently harm some artifacts. In the case of uncoated metals the human hand provides the perfect combination of salt and moisture in the form of sweat to cause damage in the form of corrosion. The image below shows a fingerprint on a brass plate. Continue Reading

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No one knows how it came to The Henry Ford. Last fall, it appeared on the cataloger’s desk. She noticed the book’s age, but she didn’t think much of it.

Recently, the curators went looking for the oldest items in their respective collections. I joined in on the mission, setting out to find our oldest book. I even used the card catalog in the reading room, which is not something one has to do very often these days.

For an American history institution, the result was surprising: It was a French version of Vegetius’s De Re Militari (Concerning Military Matters), published in Paris in 1536. Continue Reading

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In a recent post on our blog for National Space Day, Digital Access & Preservation Archivist Brian Wilson highlighted a few concept drawings created by the Sundberg-Ferar industrial design firm, in conjunction with Lockheed and NASA, in the early 1980s. As Brian notes, these drawings of a manned space station “considered how the astronauts would perform normal earthbound tasks in the tight quarters of the space station, including the need to exercise, bathe and sleep, and how a near-zero gravity environment would affect those tasks.” The drawings shown here, for example, demonstrate how dining might work in space. If your interest is piqued, you can now browse a couple dozen more of these newly-digitized drawings on our collections website.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

 

Jim Clark and his Racing Team with Lotus Racer, Indianapolis 500 Race, 1965 (THF 110496)

 

This year marks the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, more commonly known as the Indy 500. Since the race’s inception in 1911, men and women from around the world have participated, but only 5 drivers have come from Scotland. With 2015 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Scottish win at Indy, here is a look at the five Scots who brought their talent from Dunfermline, Glasgow, Bathgate, Milton, and Kilmany to the Brickyard.

Jim Clark (1936-1968) became the first Scottish driver to compete at the Indy 500 in 1963, going on to start the race in five consecutive years (1963-1967). In his Indy rookie year, Clark took second place, 34.04 seconds behind Parnelli Jones.  After dropping out of the 1964 race with suspension problems, Clark rebounded the next year by crossing the finish line in his Lotus-Ford 38/1 almost two full minutes ahead of Jones. The year 1966 witnessed another second place finish, this time to Graham Hill, and 1967 saw an early exit after 35 laps due to piston problems. Unfortunately, Clark would not have the opportunity to compete the next year, as he was killed during a Formula Two race in Hockenheim, Germany on April 7, 1968. Continue Reading