Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Historical Graffiti

November 5, 2014

As a new member of the Historical Resources Department at The Henry Ford, my first couple of months have been a whirlwind. Not only am I responsible for learning the daily workflow routine, but I also have to begin the process of taking in the massive and amazing collection that exists here at The Henry Ford. My initial impression is that you could spend multiple lifetimes working here and still not discover all the stories the collection has to offer. Discovery is what makes my work exciting. What makes my work even more exciting is the ability to share those discoveries with other people. It is in the spirit of sharing these stories, the breadth of our collection, and in the stories themselves that make The Henry Ford a prime location for the setting of a TV show like Innovation Nation. All of these stories need to be shared in order to inspire. Continue Reading

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We’re continuing with the project we started this summer, digitizing materials related to our historic buildings in Greenfield Village. We’ve recently added photographs for a number of these buildings, including Dr. Howard’s Office.  As Curator of Public Life Donna Braden notes in a 2013 blog post, Dr. Howard’s Office depicts a 19th century country doctor’s office, presented in large part through original artifacts from Alonson Howard’s practice in Tekonsha, Mich. This 1956 photograph shows an interior shot of the building on its original site, about five years before it was moved to Greenfield Village. Visit our collections website to view all the recently added material related to Dr. Howard’s Office.

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

Chief Curator Marc Greuther and Mo Rocca talk product packaging in the Heinz House.

When host Mo Rocca offered Marc Greuther, chief curator at The Henry Ford, a sample of “Monnaise” on the set of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, it was difficult not to laugh out loud. We were filming in the Heinz House in Greenfield Village, among original artifacts documenting some of Henry J. Heinz’s earliest innovations and successes. Mo’s plastic condiment containers with their silly labels (fabricated by the show’s producers as props) looked absurd in this setting, to be sure! But looking back, they weren’t as out of place as it might have seemed. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

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Dan Gurney possesses a wide-ranging curiosity and hands-on attitude that has resulted in a number of innovations including the downforce-increasing "Gurney flap." The only American to win a Formula One race in a car he built himself, Gurney also brought British race car builder Colin Chapman and Ford Motor Company together. The collaboration produced a Ford-powered Indy 500 winner in 1965. Chapman's Lotus chassis was the first rear engine car to the win the 500, and rear engine cars have won every race since. Although Gurney's California shop, All American Racers, no long produces Eagle race cars, they completed the prototype for the new Delta Wing race car in March 2012. In addition, Gurney continues to apply his talents and skills to the design and production of Alligator Motorcycles.

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2014 Edison-Ford Medal Recipient

On October 29, 2014 Dan Gurney received the Edison-Ford Medal for Innovation in a ceremony at The Henry Ford, with Charlie Rose as Master of Ceremonies.

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The prize honors individuals who fully leverage the creative, innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that resides in every one of us. Gurney's many accomplishments, first as a driver and later as a designer, builder and team owner, exemplify the character of American ingenuity.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Racing In America

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The collections of The Henry Ford contain hundreds of clocks. Many of these are on display, either in the Clockwork exhibit in the Henry Ford Museum or as part of the recreation of daily life in the buildings of Greenfield Village, but many more are not. We’ve just added a number of clocks, dating from the late 17th through mid-20th centuries, to our digital collections, bringing the total number online to about 120. More than half of these are not currently on display, including this early 19th century novelty clock, which keeps time by rolling a steel ball down a zigzag track. Visit our online collections to view our growing digital collection of clocks and related artifacts.

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

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This week on “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation” you’ll learn about the Dymaxion House. Want to learn more? Take a look.

 Read

  • Tuning the Dymaxion House
  • Repairing the Dymaxion House
  • Gauging the Condition of the Dymaxion House
  • The Dymaxion House: The Same and Improved
  • The House of the Future
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    Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

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    How would you like to live in a round house built of aluminum, steel, and plastic, suspended on a mast like a giant umbrella, with built-in closets and shelves and a bathroom the size of an airplane toilet?

    R. Buckminster Fuller thought this house, which he called the Dymaxion House, was just what the American public wanted. Fuller, an engineer, philosopher and innovative designer, conceived the house in 1927 and partnered with the Beech Aircraft Corporation in Wichita, Kansas, to produce prototypes in 1945. Although Fuller designed his house so that it could be mass-produced, only one was ever built and lived in. Continue Reading

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

    The Dymaxion House inside Henry Ford Museum.

    To some people it’s a giant Hershey’s Kiss, while others sense a kinship with the Airstream travel trailer—both, it should be noted, recognized as icons. Even the more general touchstones—retro-futuristic spacecraft themes seem to hold sway here—tie into something powerfully elemental. Either way, the Dymaxion house has over the last decade assumed an iconic presence in Henry Ford Museum, a presence that delights and provokes a wide range of visitors. Continue Reading

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

    The magnificent Great Hall, which welcomes visitors to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

    Maybe it creates a sense of legitimacy, maybe it’s a shrine to honor past heroes, or maybe it just provides a place for fans to congregate in the off-season. For whatever reason, every sport seeks to create its own Hall of Fame. Baseball devotees have Cooperstown, football followers have Canton, and, for NASCAR fans, there is Charlotte.

    As Halls go, NASCAR’s is young. The building opened (and inducted its first honorees) in 2010 after a four-year site-selection and design process. While Daytona Beach and Atlanta were both considered, North Carolina – with its deep stock car racing roots and status as home to much of the present industry – was the clear favorite. I recently had a chance to visit the establishment. Continue Reading

    Racing In America

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    Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village is a time-honored tradition at The Henry Ford. But, this doesn’t mean we’re afraid of shaking things up a bit! Much in the spirit of the spooky holiday, our Productions team likes to trick guests and keep each year a surprise in and of itself. This year has been no different, and with just one weekend left to enjoy the sights and sounds of Halloween, guests have been, and will be this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in for a treat.

    According to Senior Manager of Exhibitions & Program Production, Greg Harris, Hallowe’en is a staff favorite, so he’s constantly taking a look back and asking how they can upgrade and improve with each year.

    This year that surprise has come in the form of a brand new route and some never-before-seen experiences. Continue Reading