Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Henry Ford and Thomas Edison at Dedication of Menlo Park Glass House in Greenfield Village, 1929.

Later this month the first episode of our new television series, The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation, will debut on CBS as part of the Saturday morning Dream Team programming block. Members and visitors to The Henry Ford will recognize a familiar building in the first episode: Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory.

We've collected a handful of our digital resources for you to immerse yourself in. Make sure to check the blog every week this fall for more episode resource posts.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

Premier event photography by KMS Photography

 

A few years ago, when The Henry Ford embarked on its "teaching innovation" initiative, we did not anticipate that it would rapidly evolve into so many different forms and lead us to so many new opportunities and unique partnerships. Innovation 101, our core curriculum for inspiring innovation, has proven to be a highly adaptive and dynamic teaching tool that continues to be applied in a wide variety of settings, engaging multiple audiences to think and act like innovators. In some instances, we are the direct drivers; in others, we are the catalysts nurturing innovative thinking among stakeholders. Here are some of the ways we are teaching innovation, learning in the process and innovating new applications. We consider our efforts a humble start and look forward to more exciting possibilities unfolding in the future. Continue Reading

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One-Room School is one of The Henry Ford’s longest-running programs. It has made memories for generations; current teachers and staff members remember coming to Greenfield Village for this program as children themselves. And now we have revised our One-Room School Teacher’s Guide to update the program.

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corliss

Corliss engines were renowned for their superior economy but it was their smooth running speed and swift response to changes in load that ensured their great success. These engines were particularly attractive to the textile industry. The energy needed to drive the vast numbers of machines used in textile mills was considerable but the delicacy of the threads and fabrics produced by textile machinery demanded that the power source be very responsive. The patented Corliss valve gear allowed the engine to maintain the precise speed needed to avoid thread breakage while simultaneously responding to varying loads as different machines were brought in or out of operation. Continue Reading

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As a homeschooling teacher of 11 years and a middle school teacher before that, it has been clear to me for sometime that children learn not nearly as much from textbooks and tests as they do from reading, writing, seeing, and doing. And so, when I saw that  The Henry Ford was putting on a writing contest, I knew that this was a great opportunity for learning--to learn about innovative Americans who began as just shop keepers and, through perseverance, became the first in flight. Continue Reading

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John Burroughs (1837–1921) was an American naturalist who wrote frequently and with a literary sensibility on nature and the environment.  He joined the Vagabonds, and as a result took a number of camping trips with Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone.  Henry Ford also provided his friend Burroughs with multiple Ford vehicles, including a Model T touring car, to assist him in his nature studies.  We’re currently digitizing selections from our collections related to Burroughs, such as this photograph of a sculpture of Burroughs created by C.S. Pietro.  You can see Pietro working on what appears to be the same sculpture in another photograph.  Thus far, we’ve digitized over 250 photographs, letters, writings, and postcards documenting Burroughs’ life, including his travels, famous friends, and retreats—browse them all on our collections website.

 

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

Barn at Firestone Farm in Greenfield Village, September 8, 1991.

Barns are one of the best ways to tell where you are when you are traveling—especially if you happened to be traveling through the United States 150 years ago.

Barns are generally the largest man-made feature of the rural landscape. They can tell you a lot about the type of farming that is going on, as well as the cultural background of the family that built them. Unlike houses or commercial buildings, barns generally lack stylistic adornment. Since building a barn was often a community undertaking, the general form and the details of barn construction often changed slowly—barn-builders were limited to construction techniques that everyone in the community knew how to do. As a result, until the late 1800s, barns tended to differ more from place-to-place, than they did over time.

The barn at the Firestone Farm tells us that the Firestone family was of German ancestry, that people from the Germanic sections of Pennsylvania settled the community where the family lived in Ohio, and that their farm was the typical mix of livestock and grain crops found in the northeast and upper Midwestern United States.

What physical clues tell us this?

This photograph (left) of the Firestone Barn on its original site in Columbiana County , Ohio , shows the earthen bank built up as a ramp to the upper level. On the right, the projecting forebay is visible in this photograph of the Firestone Barn taken in 1898. (Photos courtesy of the Firestone Archives)

The Firestone barn is of a type known as a Pennsylvania-German bank barn, or “Sweitzer” barn, one of the primary barn types found in the United States before 1880. Bank barns are large, multi-purpose structures that combined several farm functions under a single roof. Two-story and rectangular in form, they have a gable roof with a ridgeline running the length of the building. They are called bank barns because one side of the barn is built into the bank of a hill, allowing wagons to be driven into the upper floor of the barn. The opposite side of the barn has an overhang, known as a projecting forebay. Livestock were kept in the lower story of the barn. Continue Reading

Collections Intersection

August 22, 2014

Ford Workers Getting Wages from Payroll Truck, 1932-1933.

As Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford, one thing that I find particularly fascinating is how our collections intersect with those of other cultural institutions.  Sometimes these connections pop up unexpectedly.

Recently, I was searching in our collections database for items related to Mexican artist Diego Rivera.  This 1930s image of Ford Motor Company employees collecting their wages from a payroll truck, pictured above, was one of the items I got back in my search. Continue Reading

Monterey Car Week 2014

August 21, 2014

Monterey Car Week. Where else can you see supercars at the supermarket? (In this case, it's a Hennessey Venom GT parked nonchalantly in downtown Carmel.)

We’re back from another great Car Week on California’s Monterey Peninsula. For those who don’t know, Monterey Car Week is arguably the world’s premier event for historic automobiles. Car owners and enthusiasts come in from around the globe for six days of driving tours, auto art shows, car auctions and races, all culminating with the incomparable Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on the shore of Carmel Bay. This year being the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, The Henry Ford’s one-of-a-kind 1962 Mustang I concept car was invited to participate in three of Monterey Car Week’s signature events. Continue Reading

Racing In America