Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Premier event photography by KMS Photography

Learn about one of our latest acquisitions, an Eames kiosk from the IBM Pavilion at the 1964 Worlds Fair, in this video from Henry Ford Museum.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

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Not long ago, Chief Archivist Terry Hoover popped his head into my office.  This isn’t unusual, as Terry and I sit next to each other, but in this case, he had something special to share.  He’d discovered a couple of late 19th century children’s books relating to Christmas in our rare books collection, and wondered if we could digitize them.  This week, just in time for Christmas, we have.  A Visit from Santa Claus retells the famous Clement Moore poem beginning “’Twas the night before Christmas,” with each page of text accompanied by a lovely full-color illustration by Virginia Gerson.  Or, check out Santa Claus's New Castle, written by Maude Florence Bellar and illustrated by Dixie Selden.  View all pages of both books on our collections website, or check out all of our digital collections related to Christmas.

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

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This year, many transformative things have been set into motion at The Henry Ford. One of the most rewarding projects has been all of the hard work that has culminated with the first season of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, an educational television show produced by Litton Entertainment. Perhaps you’ve been watching the episodes on CBS, Saturday mornings? If not, you can view them here.

When we entered into a partnership with Litton, we also took the opportunity to turn our gaze inwards, to research the history of our own involvement with broadcast media. A dive into the archives of the Edison Institute revealed some gems—photographic collections that captured the visual history of media events on our campus spanning 60 years. Previous blogs detail how in 1955, Marion Corwell began hosting Window to the Past, our first live television show. That same year, NBC filmed an all-day live event using the then-new medium of color broadcasting; episodes of The Howdy Doody Show were captured that day. Other discoveries revealed Gladys Knight and the Pips on the Phil Donahue Show in 1973. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

Huntsville Center for Technology team Formula 24 car crosses the finish line.

Greenpower goes global

When high school drafting design instructor Mike Evans discovered Greenpower, the academic electric car competition, he had no idea how far it would take him and his students. In less than three years, the team from Alabama’s Huntsville Center of Technology’s (HCT) went from drafting Solid Edge models for the UK based competition, to becoming the first international high school team, and now starting the competition in America.

“It started with an introduction from Mike Brown who oversees Siemens’ mainstream engineering global academic programs,” said Evans. “We had a long relationship with Siemens so he asked us to reverse engineer the F-24 kit car in Siemens Solid Edge software for Greenpower’s UK CEO Jeremy Way. When Jeremy saw the students’ models he invited us to build a car and enter the race.”

Greenpower started back in 1999 with a dream of supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Building and racing the electric cars inspires and engages students of all ages to pursue STEM subjects. Continue Reading

George DeAngelis sits at the tiller of his Quadricycle replica in 1963. He’s on Detroit’s Bagley Avenue, where Henry Ford built the original car in 1896.

George DeAngelis, a long-time Ford Motor Company employee and devoted student of Henry Ford and his automobiles, passed away on December 14, 2014. Mr. DeAngelis is remembered for his published works on the Ford Model A and the Ford V-8, as well as Henry Ford’s early 999 and Arrow race cars. Here at The Henry Ford, though, we especially remember him for a pair of three-dimensional contributions: his incredible 1963 and 1991 replicas of Henry Ford’s first car, the 1896 Quadricycle.

Regular visitors to Henry Ford Museum know that the Quadricycle – the original car built by Henry Ford himself – occupies a prominent place in our Driving America exhibit. While the original car was used frequently during Henry Ford’s life – indeed, he posed with it less than a year before he died – it was retired to Henry Ford Museum by 1963, the centennial of Henry Ford’s birth. DeAngelis set out to build a working replica for the celebration. DeAngelis had the perfect background for the task. He possessed the skills of a tool and die maker, but with the careful eye of an artist. He had a genuine love for antique automobiles, to boot.

There were no blueprints of the Quadricycle, so DeAngelis gathered every written description and photograph he could find. Of course, he also had the original Quadricycle as a pattern. The historic car sat in an enclosed display case, so DeAngelis estimated his initial measurements through the glass. Amazingly, when the original Quadricycle was removed for confirmation, DeAngelis found he had made only one error – and of just 5/8 of an inch!

What DeAngelis thought would be a one-winter project turned into three years of nights and weekends. He was able to source some of his parts from lawn mower catalogs, and some from antique shops, but most he made himself. While the replica stayed remarkably true to the original, DeAngelis made a few concessions to safety and reliability. Most notably, he gave his replica a brake – something Henry’s Quadricycle never had. The work was finished by June 4, 1963, when DeAngelis drove his replica along the same route Henry Ford took during the original Quadricycle’s first drive on June 4, 1896.

George DeAngelis rides in his 1963 Quadricycle replica at Old Car Festival in 2012.

When the festivities ended, The Henry Ford purchased the replica from George DeAngelis. Over the years, the 1963 copy became a staple of our annual Old Car Festival, thrilling visitors each year as museum staff drove it through Greenfield Village. In a neat coda to the story, we commissioned DeAngelis to build a second Quadricycle replica nearly 30 years later. DeAngelis’s 1991 replica now sits in the reconstruction of Henry Ford’s Bagley Avenue shed in Greenfield Village.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Racing In America

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There are only 64 known Apple 1 computers in the world, and only about a quarter of these are operational.  One of the latter is now in the collections, both digital and physical, of The Henry Ford.  It is not only significant in the early history of one of the most well-known technology companies in the modern world, but also speaks to human-computer interaction, design, and miniaturization of technology.  As Curator of Communication & Information Technology Kristen Gallerneaux notes in an upcoming post on our blog: “The acquisition of an Apple 1 represents The Henry Ford’s commitment to documenting the material nature of technology. It is an observable artifact with visual appeal. It has a clear sense of purpose and an honesty expressed through its exposure of internal workings. It could even be considered as a piece of ‘electronic folk art.’”  We are very excited to have this incredibly significant artifact in our collections.  Visit our collections website to view multiple images of the Apple 1, along with photos documenting its arrival and unpacking at The Henry Ford, or to browse all of our digitized collections relating to computers, and check back soon for Kristen’s blog post to learn more about the history and significance of this artifact.

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

The Lions in Lights

December 15, 2014

 

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions.

Our sign replica has welcomed guests to Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past fall.

If you've visited Ford Field to see a Detroit Lions game, chances are you've see a neon sign that now hangs over the Pro Shop. And if you've visited Henry Ford Museum to explore Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, chances are you've seen that same sign here, this time a replica that looks like a lot like the original.

We had a chance to talk with our partners over at the Detroit Lions to learn a little bit more about this familiar sign.

The sign was created in 1963 when Mr. William Clay Ford, Sr. bought the club and was hung in the Detroit Lions Headquarters. The logo on the sign came from a patch that was worn on the team’s blue blazers that they would wear when travelling.

The Lions organization, along with the neon Lions sign, then moved to the Silverdome in 1975.

When the organization moved to Ford Field in 2002, the sign was left at the Silverdome. Ford Field Director of Sports Events Danny Jaroshewich brought it to Lions President Tom Lewand’s attention that the sign was left and suggested that it be brought to the new offices at Ford Field. The sign was sent to be refurbished before being placed above the Pro Shop, where it is still currently hung.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford

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During the Holiday Nights program in Greenfield Village, we strive to recreate authentic interiors and seasonal celebrations of the American past.  With the holidays rapidly approaching we are setting our dining tables for Christmas and New Year’s Eve and think it is a good time to examine the evolution of festive table settings in times past. Of course, the focus of table decoration is the centerpiece and these have a long and interesting history. Continue Reading

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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