Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation


The Dave Friedman collection at The Henry Ford is a massive collection of automobile racing–related images. About 4,300 of these are now available on our digital collections website. The latest additions are photos documenting Ford drag racing in the early 60s, including this image from the 1966 NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Nationals. Digital Processing Archivist and racing fan Brian Wilson notes that this particular image shows the “Brand Ford Special fielded by Lou Baney and driven by legendary Tom McEwen.” Visit our collection website to view more images from the 1966 NHRA Nationals, as well as images from the 1963 NHRA Winter Nationals, the 1965 Bristol Dragway, and the 1967 Riverside Drag Races. Or, browse through all of the Dave Friedman images in our online collections.

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

Racing In America


A publicity photograph from August 1955 features Marion Corwell, the museum's Manager of Educational Television, holding a handmade giraffe, ready to take her school-student audience on a voyage of discovery to children's toys from 100 years earlier. (THF114821)

Imagine a time when having one television set in your home was a big deal, you saw the programs in black and white, color television was brand new, and you'd never heard of TVs in the classroom.

This was the mid-1950s and The Henry Ford (then called Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village) began using the technology of television to reach into the classroom. It was a way to further our educational mission by assisting social studies teachers and sparking students' interest in the past. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

Edsel Ford's Childhood Artwork

It should come as no surprise, given the founder of this institution, that our digital collections already contain hundreds of items related to Henry Ford’s son, Edsel. We’ve just expanded this selection by digitizing some of Edsel’s childhood artwork. My personal favorite is this bear, made of brown thread stitched into paper and likely created when Edsel was between 5 and 10 years old, but other pieces include family portraits, highly geometric works, and slightly later, more sophisticated works. View these and other items related to Edsel Ford in our online collections.

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

Remembering a Patriot

July 4, 2014


It’s the 4th of July and what’s on my mind isn’t just picnics and fireworks. What I’m thinking about is a young man from long ago named William Hood, who gave service during the American Revolution. William Hood was my fourth great grandfather and –

A patriot.

When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, William Hood was just about 18 years old. He was stationed near the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. This was an area where there had been repeated attacks by the British and their Native American allies. Continue Reading

Ackley Covered Bridge

You may have visited Greenfield Village and some, or maybe all, of the structures it contains. But did you know we also have extensive documentation and photographs of these buildings in our collections? This summer, intern Molly Malcolm is working with Curator of Public Life Donna Braden and Curator of Domestic Life Jeanie Miller to collate information about some of our buildings and add it to our collections management system. As part of this effort, we are also digitizing selected photographs showing the structures on their original sites, people related to each building, and the dedication of the buildings in Greenfield Village. We started with the A’s, so first up is the Ackley Covered Bridge. View more newly-added Ackley-related material in our digital collections, or jump to this specific dedication photo, featuring an apparently less-than-impressed guest in the lower left. Watch the blog and our collections website for more buildings to come!

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

Photo courtesy of Greenberg Artists.

This year during Salute to America, guest conductor Bob Bernhardt will join the Detroit Symphony Orchestra during The Henry Ford’s Fourth of July celebration in Greenfield Village. I had a chance to ask Bob, the principal pops conductor with the Louisville Orchestra, a few questions about what he’s most looking forward to next week on Walnut Grove. Continue Reading

Greenfield Village, Salute to America


This 1920s ice cream parlor tray says it all: ice cream was not just a passing fad—it was here to stay!(Object ID: 83.21.250)

“America is the only country in the world where ice cream is a staple article of food.” - New-York Daily Tribune, July 1902

Ice cream may have originated elsewhere, but Americans embraced it as their own with a passion akin to baseball games, outdoor picnics, and July 4th parades. The story of ice cream in America is actually comprised of multiple stories—stories of individual enterprise, invention and accidental discovery, short-lived novelties and industry-wide changes—all leading to the plethora of ice cream choices we indulge in today. Continue Reading

Political Button from the collections of The Henry Ford

The Henry Ford has hundreds of items in its collections related to American political campaigns, from 19th century examples to much more recent material (see this and/or this, depending on your personal political leanings). Earlier this year, we digitized some of our paper lanterns, and we’ve just added a number of our campaign buttons. This one shows support for Theodore Roosevelt and Charles Fairbanks in the presidential campaign of 1904. View close to 200 examples from our political campaign collections, including the recently added buttons, on our collections website.

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

Lord Mountbatten at The Henry Ford

Arriving, apparently via helicopter (Object ID: P.B.61779.6).

The Henry Ford has always attracted famous visitors—some of my favorites that are documented in our digital collections include H.G. Wells, Neil Armstrong, and Rosa Parks. But while searching our collections database for something else, I found a name I wasn’t expecting: Lord Mountbatten.

Lord Mountbatten (1900–79) is a fascinating and controversial figure in British and Asian history. The great-grandson of Queen Victoria, he was commissioned as a naval lieutenant in 1920, and held several naval posts during World War II. As supreme allied commander of the Southeast Asia Command, he took Burma from Japanese control, which resulted in an honorary title, Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Continue Reading


By now, you likely have heard the news that The Henry Ford has partnered with Litton Entertainment on a new national television show, coming this fall. But this isn’t the first time The Henry Ford has hosted TV crews—far from it. In preparation for the big announcement, we’ve just finished digitizing selections from our collections that document some of our previous broadcast adventures, such as this image showing the filming of an ABC-TV show in 1963. Watch for posts on this material coming soon on our blog; in the meantime, please browse our collections website to see some of the highlights, including various dates of the “Today” show; Gladys Knight and the Pips on "The Phil Donahue Show in 1973"; our first television show series, “Window to the Past,” dating back to 1955; and perhaps my favorite, a laser light show filmed at Menlo Park Laboratory in 1989.

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

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation