Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

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mcaca_logo_finalThe classical violins in the collections of The Henry Ford get around.  In 2011 and 2013, we had them CT scanned at Henry Ford Health System; in February 2013, Sphinx Laureate Gareth Johnson played one at the National Day of Courage; and in October 2014, they were featured on Episode 5 of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. Now, thanks to a generous grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, they are moving out of collections storage and into the Henry Ford Museum, in a display that is planned to go live by February 1, 2015.  The violins themselves will be accompanied by a digital kiosk, where visitors will be able to explore additional related artifacts from our online collections. One example of these related artifacts that we’ve just added to our digital collections is the “Badger Gavotte” sheet music for Henry Ford’s Early American Dance Orchestra. Visit our collections website to view other objects related to the Orchestra, dance, and the violins themselves, and plan to visit us next year to see the new exhibit.

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

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

Process Photograph for 1965 Ford Mustang Advertising (Object ID: 68.300.1031.9).

The Mustang, America’s original pony car, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  When the first generation Mustangs were being built, no one anticipated that they would become American classics and popular vehicles for restoration.

We have many cool pieces of Mustang history here at The Henry Ford, from... Continue Reading

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In October, we announced that The Henry Ford has acquired a functioning Apple-1, a major milestone in the history of computing.  However, in September, we acquired another significant computer, and we’ve just added it to our collections website.  When Pixar began as a department within Lucasfilm in 1979, it started developing its own computer system to support graphics and visualization.  The Pixar Imaging Computer became commercially available in 1986, and was adopted by other organizations with intensive graphic arts and animation needs, such as the Walt Disney Company and the United States Departments of Defense and Forestry.  Curator of Communication & Information Technology Kristen Gallerneaux notes about the P-II: “One of our goals at The Henry Ford is to document computing as applied to creative and expressive activities. The Pixar Image Computer II (P-II) is of particular interest not only as a graphics rendering tool … but also as a hugely significant element in the thread that connects the Apple-1 computer to the finely designed and engineered computing devices we all carry with us every day.”  See the P-II, as well as the rest of our digital collections related to computers, on our collections website.

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

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Our graceful Grecian couch is about 200 years old and is believed to have been made in the workshop of Duncan Phyfe in New York City. In its time, this couch was considered the best piece of upholstered furniture in a well-appointed parlor of a sophisticated New Yorker. Although these couches seem to be designed for reclining, they were not intended for repose. They were used by fashionable ladies and gentlemen, who sat in a rigid, upright position. Today, we would find sitting on this couch very uncomfortable.

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It is amazing that such a specialized piece survived intact into the early 20th century, when it was acquired by The Henry Ford. This is perhaps due to the flamboyant design of the back and foot rests, which makes it an exceptionally elegant, almost sculptural, piece of furniture. The couch was last reupholstered in 1954 by Ernest LoNano, a well-known furniture restorer of the time. Since then, the upholstery had become quite dirty and worn. Continue Reading

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You might have heard that there are big changes afoot at the Ford Rouge Center: production has recently started on the all-new 2015 F-150, featuring an aluminum-alloy body and bed. As part of this change, we’ve been enhancing the Ford Rouge Factory Tour experience, and we’ve also taken advantage of the production line’s downtime to digitize the vehicles you’ll see in the Legacy Gallery.  You can now check out glamour shots of the 1929 Ford Model A Roadster, the 1932 Ford V-8 Victoria, the 1949 Ford V-8 Club Coupe, the 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible, and, last but not least, the 1956 Ford Thunderbird Convertible shown here—all part of the legacy of the Rouge.  Visit our collections website to see these vehicles, as well as much more material related to the history of the Rouge.

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

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We’re continuing with the project we started this summer, digitizing materials related to our historic buildings in Greenfield Village. This week, we’ve added images of Eagle Tavern. Today, Eagle Tavern is a great place to have a historically authentic meal or beverage (either temperance or non-temperance). However, when Henry Ford acquired it in 1927 from its original location in Clinton, Michigan, the building was in a state of deep disrepair. This sheet shows this poor condition from a couple of different angles. Visit our collections website to view nearly 100 artifacts depicting or related to Eagle Tavern.

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

American society became more child-centered as the birthrate climbed after World War II. Like other aspects of American life during this “baby boom” era, Jewish ritual observances in the home became more child-focused, as reflected in this 1953 publication. (Object ID.2005.29.32) (Gift of Judith E. Endelman and William D. Epstein in memory of Miriam Ruth Epstein)

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the few and the weak over the mighty and the strong.  Legends and stories surround the holiday’s origins, whose name means “dedication” in Hebrew.

For centuries, Hanukkah was a modest occasion, a minor holiday. Jewish law and custom only required the lighting of candles for eight nights, with one candle to be used as the shamash (“guard” or “servant” in Hebrew) to light the others. The lighted candles were to be kept by a window where they could be seen by passers-by. In Eastern Europe, the celebration included eating latkes (potato pancakes), distributing small amounts of Hanukkah gelt (coins) to children, playing games with a dreidel (a spinning top), and playing cards. Continue Reading

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Expedia Viewfinder and The Henry Ford teamed up to discuss some of the best places to visit.

Expedia Viewfinder and Henry Ford Museum teamed up to discuss some of the best places to visit.

Henry Ford’s invention of the Model T put Americans in the driver’s seat. His affordable automobile made everything from running errands and commuting to work to taking Sunday drives and embarking on road trips possible for ordinary people. The Model T transformed the way Americans traveled and paved the road for the future of vehicles.

Expedia Viewfinder discovered that Henry Ford Museum refreshed its Driving America exhibit not too long ago, and we got to thinking about how these antique vehicles have contributed to our own opportunities for modern-day travel. With a set of wheels, we can tour unique corners of the country and witness unrivaled beauty at our leisure. Since it was Henry Ford who made road tripping possible in the first place, it only seemed fitting to partner up with The Henry Ford, home of the country’s premier automotive museum, to discuss some of our favorite routes and roadside attractions.

Some of the nation’s most scenic areas are best viewed from behind the steering wheel with the windows rolled down. So on your next open-road adventure, buckle up, rev your engine, and cruise over to these must-see attractions: Continue Reading

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On this week's episode of "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" you'll learn more about Henry Ford and his fascination with soybeans. Want to learn even more? Take a look below.

Look

Henry Ford's Soybean Car

Read

Ford at the Fair

This model was used to demonstrate the soybean extraction process at several world’s fairs in the 1930s. (THF 153893)

Soybeans: A New Hope for Farmers

In the 1920s, following his success with the Model T, Henry Ford increasingly turned his attention to transforming farming—the life he sought to escape as a boy.  He focused on finding new products and new markets for agriculture. (The charcoal briquette was an early result of this effort, made from surplus wood scrap.)

In 1928, Ford started the Chemical Lab (the building in Greenfield Village now known as the Soybean Lab), and asked Robert Boyer, a student at the Ford Trade School to run it.  Ford told Boyer to select good students from the Trade School to staff the Lab. Ford then set them to experimenting with all manner of agricultural produce, from cantaloupes to rutabagas. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation