Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Taking Up Collections

September 16, 2013
In addition to those many hats, collections managers often have to wear gloves.

Even now, after having interned with the Collections Management department at The Henry Ford for an entire season, it is difficult to come up with one succinct, all-encompassing description of my job and duties. I will say, simply and incompletely, that collections management is the care and regulation of the objects in a museum. Collections managers are asked to do so many different types of work that the job necessitates a variety of skills. In an institution as large as The Henry Ford, there is such a large number of specialized job titles as to warrant an entire Collections Management team. During the course of my internship, however, I learned that even in a specialized department, a historian has to wear a lot of different hats to get the job done.

Even before this summer, I was familiar with The Henry Ford. Besides growing up in the area, I was also an intern at the museum in the fall of 2010, researching automobile specifications for Driving America. As I entered graduate school at Appalachian State University in 2012, I knew that I was required to do another internship; I also knew where I wanted to intern. My first experience at The Henry Ford was so beneficial that I felt compelled to return.

This “Gaudy Welsh” style Coffeepot (left), object ID 28.953.9, and “Boston” Rocking Chair, object ID 24.111.120, are both of the period and were within the means of a Baptist minister's family in Saline, Michigan. We like to call these artifacts "parsonage-worthy."

Together with two other Simmons interns, I was fortunate enough to work on the George Matthew Adams Birthplace in Greenfield Village. About two years ago, employees at The Henry Ford noticed that the house appeared to be sliding down the hillside. This challenged the institution to find a way to halt the slide and preserve the historic integrity and structural stability of the house. Curatorial staff researched the history of this Baptist parsonage and decided that another interpretation provided more compelling stories and was more compatible with the institution's mission. In this new interpretation, the date shifts from the mid-Victorian 1870s to the early Victorian 1840s. This requires replacing furnishings dating from the 1860s and 1870s with those dating from the late 1820s to early 1840s.

That is where I came in. I was hired on as the Collections Management intern for the Adams House project. My duties took me to every storage unit at The Henry Ford, both onsite and off, in order to track down artifacts that curators deemed as possible fits for the new interpretation. After locating the furnishings that appeared on the list, I documented my findings by taking photographs of artifacts and reporting on their condition and location. I then updated their information and added reference photos to EMu, the institution's collections management system. If the objects were selected by the curatorial team, I moved them to conservation, where they are undergoing preparation for eventual installation in the house.

During this internship, my professional and historical skills grew by leaps and bounds. I learned the proper ways to handle, transport, and store artifacts. Just as importantly, I now know how to recognize, update, and store the data that goes along with the artifacts. With a collection as large The Henry Ford's, it is important that details are not lost in the shuffle; EMu is a great tool for keeping collections organized and projects flowing smoothly. Like all professions, the museum field has become increasingly dependent on new technology in recent years. One such example is with the program Sketchup, which allows the user to create 3D renderings of objects and buildings. I used this program to plan the layout of the Adams House, allowing staff members to determine what furniture can fit in the new interpretation.

An early rendering of a possible layout for the parlor and sitting room in the reimagined Adams House. Sketchup allows staff to create a rough floor plan before moving any artifacts.

This internship made me a more well-rounded museum professional. I have had internships filled with research and education in the past, and it was a very welcome change to have an experience with a little more physical work and independence. Most museums are not as large as The Henry Ford. The variety of skills I gained working in this expansive, fast-paced environment can easily transfer to any museum, large or small, when I begin my career.

Jacob Thomas was one of this summer's Simmons Graduate Interns.

artifacts, collections

Goodwood Revival: On the Track

September 14, 2013

Dario Franchitti behind the wheel at Goodwood.

Dario Franchitti receiving final driving instructions before driving The Henry Ford's Lotus-Ford 38/1 for the Jim Clark Tribute at the Goodwood Revival in England.

The Lotus-Ford on display in the paddock area.

antique cars, Car Shows, vintage cars

Our 1965 Lotus-Ford Race Car is currently in England for this weekend's Goodwood Revival.

ford-lotus-jim-cardLegendary road racer Dan Gurney concluded that the proper application of European Formula 1 technology could capture the Indianapolis 500. He brought Ford Motor Company together with Colin Chapman, English builder of Lotus sports and racing cars. The chassis made by Group Lotus in Hethel, England, and the engine was made by Ford Motor Company here in Dearborn.

Vehicle Specs

  • Lightweight Lotus monocoque chassis, four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes
  • Specially designed rear-mounted Ford 256-cubic-inch, 495-horsepower, double overhead cam V-8 engine
  •  

    Racing History

  • 1965 Lotus-Ford 38/1 gave Ford Racing its first win in the 500
  • The first victory for a rear-engine car at the 500
  • Jim Clark was the first driver to average more than 150 miles per hour in the Indianapolis 500 (150.686)
  • Jim Clark became the first foreign competitor to win since 1916. He also went on to win the Formula 1 championship a few months later and remains the only person to win the Indianapolis 500 and F1 title in the same season
  • Ford swept the top four finishing positions. The win also started a run that saw Ford win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” three straight years and six of the next seven
  •  

    Just like last year, The Henry Ford is at Goodwood and will be taking in all the sites and sounds during this year's festivities as we pay tribute to legendary driver Jim Clark. Make sure to keep tuned to our Museum category here on the blog for updates from the team.

    Team Manager Chris Dinnage gets ready to take the car out for a test run.

    Lewis Cullington and Tim Gardner

    antique cars, Car Shows, racing, Racing In America, vintage cars

    When you think of drinks at Eagle Tavern, does a classic cocktail come to mind? Many guests are often surprised to find that not only does Eagle Tavern serve some of the tastiest food from mid-19th-century Michigan, but also serves a selection of delicious alcoholic beverages from the time period. From punches to mint juleps, a meal at Eagle Tavern is definitely complete with a cocktail. However, if you're more temperance-minded, we do have several effervescing drinks to choose from, too, on our menu in the restaurant.

    Photo by Doug Coombe for Yelp.com

    Earlier this summer we hosted a historic-themed cocktail party in Eagle Tavern for Yelp.com members. They got to try a few of our favorite cocktails while enjoying Eagle Tavern fare and the sounds of Picks & Sticks. That night we had our guests try the Calvin, Maple Bourbon Sour, Mint Julep, Raspberry Shrub and even a Firkin offering. If you're curious to try a drink from the Eagle Tavern bar, try one of these recipes during your next happy hour.

    Raspberry Shrub from Eagle Tavern

    The Calvin from Eagle Tavern

    Maple Bourbon Sour from The Henry Ford

    Need some inspiration to help you start mixing? Here are some offerings from our online store:

  • Mixes
  • Cherry Shrub
  • Ginger Shrub
  • Strawberry Shrub
  • (To see more photos from our Yelp Evening of Historic Cocktails, take a look at their Flickr photo set.)

    Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

    cocktails, drinks, Food

    Apples on the Farm

    September 10, 2013 Think THF

    Raise your hand if a visit to your local cider mill is on your to-do list right now. (We thought it might be!) The promise of cooler days and falling leaves have many of us pining away for a glass of cold apple cider.

    Almost 30 years ago the Firestone Orchard was planted in Greenfield Village. Having an apple orchard was an incredibly valuable asset to 19th century farmers like the Firestones, according to Firestone Farm Manager Ryan Spencer. Apples had a variety of uses beyond simple consumption. Not only might a farmer have his own orchard, but it wouldn’t be uncommon to see an apple tree right by the farm house’s kitchen window; it made for easier apple snacking!

    From ciders to jams and jellies, apples were an important staple on the farm. Apples were often dried or stored in cellars to be consumed when fresh fruit wasn’t available at certain times during the year. Dried apple pie was a regular option for the family diet during the winter, a fact that many farmers lamented over time.

    The types of apple varieties available in the late 19th century were ever-changing as farmers heard about certain varieties doing well in one part of the country and wanting to try those out for themselves.

    Between the 1870s and 1900, America lost a lot of great apple varieties. Why? Orchards began to dwindle in number due to concerns of disease and the temperance movement. (It’s safe to say that Carrie Nation was no fan of applejack.) While all of this was going on, Washington was actually planting more apple trees, soon making them one of the largest apple producers, thanks to the state’s good climate.

    Firestone Farm

    Today at Firestone Farm you can find our staff drying apples, pressing sweet apple cider, or making apple sauce and apple jelly during the early fall. During our Fall Flavor weekends we’ll not only be doing that, but we’ll be giving tours of our apple orchard, too. Right now our Baldwins and Belmonts are getting ready, our summer Rambo is looking good, and our Maiden’s Blush is, well, getting a bit rosier.

    In the mood to bake something with apples now? Try a few recipes from our historic recipe bank as you get ready to embrace all-things apple this fall. Looking for something a bit more modern? Try this recipe for applesauce cake from the 1997 edition of The All New Joy of Cooking. Whichever recipe you try, make sure to tell us what you thought of the recipes by sharing your reactions with #THFOnLiving.

    Boiled Cider Apple Sauce (from the 1877 edition of Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping)

    Pare, quarter and core apples sufficient to fill a gallon porcelain kettle, put in it a half gallon cider, let it boil. Wash the apples and put in kettle, place a plate over them, and boil steadily but not rapidly until they are thoroughly cooked, testing by taking one from under the edge of the plate with a fork. Do not remove the plate until done, or the apples will sink to the bottom and burn. Mrs. W.W. W.

    Apple-Butter Custard Pie (Buckeye Cookery, 1890)

    Beat together four eggs, one tea-cup apple-butter, one of sugar, one level table-spoon allspice, and one quart sweet milk and pinch of salt; bake in three pies with an under-crust; - and, by the way, never omit a pinch of salt in custard and lemon pie; and, in fact, many kinds of fruit pies, such as green-apple, currant, gooseberry, and pie-plant, are improved by it.

    Apple Fritters (The Virginia Housewife or Methodical Cook, 1828)

    Pare some apples and cut them in thin slices – put them in a bowl, with a glass of brandy, some white wine, a quarter of a pound of pounded sugar, a little cinnamon finely powdered, and the rind of a lemon grated; let them stand for some time, turning over frequently; beat two eggs very light, add one quarter of a pound of flour, a table-spoonful of melted butter, and as much cold water as will make a thin batter; drip the apples on a sieve, mix them with the batter, take one slice with a spoonful of batter to each fritter – fry them quickly of light brown – drain them well, put them in a dish, sprinkling sugar over them, and glaze them nicely.

    To learn even more, Ryan recommends:

  • History of Agriculture in Ohio
  • Southmeadow Fruit Gardens
  • Henry Leuthardt Nurseries
  • Trees of Antiquity
  • Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

    apples, farming, farms, Food

    The Indianapolis 500 is America’s premier motorsports event. Since its inaugural run in 1911, Indy has exemplified our country’s obsession with speed. It is ironic, then, that one of its most significant victories came from a Scottish driver in a British-built (though American-powered) car. In one fell swoop, Jim Clark’s 1965 win in the Lotus-Ford Type 38 marked the end of the four-cylinder Offenhauser engine’s dominance, the end of the front engine, and the incursion of European design into the most American of races. The Henry Ford holds many important objects, photographs and documents that tell this fascinating story.

    From left to right: Dan Gurney, Colin Chapman and Jim Clark in 1963 (THF110625).

    By the early 1960s, four-cylinder roadsters were an ingrained tradition at the Indianapolis 500. Race teams were hesitant to experiment with anything else. American driver Dan Gurney, familiar with the advanced Formula One cars from the British firm Lotus, saw the potential in combining a lithe European chassis with a powerful American engine. He connected Lotus’s Colin Chapman with Ford Motor Company and the result was a lightweight monocoque chassis fitted with a specially designed Ford V-8 mounted behind the driver. Scotsman Jim Clark, Team Lotus’s top driver, took the new design to an impressive second place finish at Indy in 1963. While Clark started strong in the 1964 race, having earned pole position with a record-setting qualifying time, he lost the tread on his left rear tire, initiating a chain reaction that collapsed his rear suspension and ended his race early.

    The lightning-fast Wood Brothers crew refuels Jim Clark’s car at the 1965 Indianapolis 500. After a fiery crash the year before, Indy officials mandated smaller fuel tanks. Quick refueling stops became essential (THF110504).

    Based on his past performances, Jim Clark entered the 1965 race as the odds-on favorite. Ford was especially eager for a win, though, and sought every advantage it could gain. The company brought in the Wood Brothers to serve as pit crew. The Woods were legendary in NASCAR for their precision refueling drills, and they were no less impressive at Indianapolis where they filled Clark’s car with 50 gallons in less than 20 seconds. This time, the race was hardly a contest at all. Clark led for 190 of the race’s 200 laps and took the checkered flag nearly two minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Jim Clark became the first driver to finish the Indianapolis 500 with an average speed above 150 mph (he averaged 150.686) and the first foreign driver to win since 1916. The race – and the cars in it – would never be the same.

    Many of The Henry Ford’s pieces from Clark’s remarkable victory are compiled in a special Expert Set on our Online Collections page. The most significant artifact from the 1965 race is, of course, car #82 itself. Jim Clark’s 1965 Lotus-Ford Type 38 joined our collection in 1977 and has been a visitor favorite ever since. Dan Gurney, who brought Lotus and Ford together, shared his reminiscences with us in an interview on our OnInnovation site, shown below. The Henry Ford’s collection also includes a set of coveralls worn by Lotus mechanic Graham Clode at the 1965 race, and a program from the 1965 Victory Banquet signed by Clark himself.

     

    Photographs in our collection include everything from candid shots of Gurney, Chapman and Clark to posed portraits of Clark in #82 at the Brickyard. The Henry Ford’s extensive Dave Friedman Photo Collection includes more than 1,400 images of the 1965 Indianapolis 500 showing the countless cars, drivers, crew members and race fans that witnessed history being made. Finally, the Phil Harms Collection includes home movies of the 1965 race with scenes of Clark’s car rolling out of the pit lane, running practice and qualifying laps, and leading the pack in the actual race.

    Jim Clark smiles after his 1965 win (THF 110641).

    Jim Clark died in a crash at the Hockenheim race circuit in Germany in 1968. It was a tragic and much-too-soon end for a man still considered to rank among the greatest race drivers of all time. The Henry Ford is proud to preserve so many pieces from his seminal Indianapolis 500 win.

    Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford

    race car drivers, race cars, racing, Racing In America

    This week, the 2013 Goodwood Revival kicks off in the United Kingdom, celebrating classic auto racing from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s in a three-day period-themed festival. The Henry Ford team will be there, and so will our Lotus-Ford race car usually on exhibit in Driving America. In honor of the Lotus and the driver who drove it to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500, we’ve digitized several dozen photos of the car, the race, and Jim Clark. View this photo of Jim in the car at Indy, plus other highlights from this digitization effort selected by Matt Anderson, Curator of Transportation, in a set titled Jim Clark and the 1965 Indianapolis 500.

    race car drivers, race cars, racing, Racing In America, vintage photos

    Back in May, we received a visit to our reading room by a team of engineering students from Penn State, who were touring Greenfield Village. They had been out in the Village helping to install a working replica (but more on that later) of Henry Ford's first experimental engine, the Kitchen Sink Engine. (The original engine, made in 1893, is in our collections storage.) Now they wanted to see what is near and dear to any engineer's heart: the blueprints. We located and pulled the engine's technical drawings, which had been created by Ford Motor Company staff circa 1944 and form part of our Ford Blueprint Drawings collection (just one small part of which is the "Miscellaneous Ford Motor Company Blueprints and Drawings Collection," where these drawings reside.

    Drawing of the 1893 Kitchen Sink Engine, "First Gasoline Engine by Mr. Henry Ford" (Object ID: 64.167.181.1).

    The engineering students were a rapt audience, and they stayed in the reading room for a while, poring over the drawings, talking to each other about them, and taking pictures. Later, an order was put in for high-resolution scans of the drawings. It turns out that a previous group of students from their course had already created their own replica of the engine, back in 2012 as part of a class project. The Henry Ford has had a replica of the Kitchen Sink Engine on display, but ours is not a working replica. Theirs is -- and that's the really cool thing. We are always pleased when our collections are used in exciting ways that bring the past forward. Icing on the cake for this particular case (maybe the Fates were smiling on us for the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford's birth?), was that with one of the Kitchen Sink Engine drawings, we hit a milestone number for our image scanning: THF100000! (All of the collections images we scan are assigned a unique identification number, in order to make tracking and retrieval possible.) A nice round—and large—number to commemorate an important first in Henry Ford's career! Now we're going to be wondering what THF200000 will be.

    See the Penn State Beaver students' working replica of the Kitchen Sink Engine on display at this weekend's Old Car Festival.

    engineering, engines

    At this year's Old Car Festival (our 63rd offering), we'll continue to celebrate Henry Ford's 150th birthday by bringing together examples of all of the pre-Model T Fords, known as the letter cars. From the Model A to the Model T, these cars helped revolutionize the car industry. Which cars can you expect to see in Greenfield Village this weekend?

    "Evolution of the Ford Car," 1949 (Object ID: P.O.7085).

  • Model A (1903-1904)
  • Model B (1904-1905)
  • Model AC (1904)
  • Model C (1904-1905)
  • Model F (1905-1906)
  • Model K (1906-1908)
  • Model N (1906-1908)
  • Model R (1907-1908)
  • Model S (1907-1908)
  • 1905 Ford Model B Touring Car

    The rarest of these cars is the Model B. It was Ford’s first front-engine car and first four-cylinder model. It was also quite expensive ($2000) and sold poorly. Consequently, only seven complete examples are known to survive today. The Model B at Old Car Festival will be the museum’s own, coming off of the floor to make this special gathering complete.

    1907 Ford Model K Touring Car (Object ID: 00.3.2425).

    Also of note is the Ford Model K. It has its place in the Ford story as the expensive ($2500) six-cylinder car that Henry Ford didn’t like. He was thinking seriously of his “car for the masses” when the K was introduced, and the Model K led directly to a split with his original backer Alexander Malcomson. Malcomson wanted to build big, expensive cars which generated big profits per unit sold, while Ford wanted to build inexpensive cars and make the profit up in volume. Interestingly, Ford Motor Company would not produce another six-cylinder car until 1941.

    1906 Ford Model N Runabout (Object ID: 85.115.1).

    Finally, the Model N deserves some attention. Many people don’t realize that Ford Motor Company was a great success even before the Model T. The N, introduced in 1906, was the best-selling car in the United States with more  than 7000 produced. Reliable and inexpensive ($500), it was very much a proto-Model T.

    During an anniversary celebration in 1933, Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford posed for this commemorative photograph in a 1903 Model A -- the first automobile produced and sold by his fledgling company thirty years earlier (Object ID: P.189.10644).

    In addition to showcasing the letter cars this year, we'll also be running four additional historically significant vehicles, with replicas of two (the Quadricycle and Sweepstakes) built by Henry himself.

  • 1896 Quadricycle
  • 1901 Sweepstakes
  • 1922 Detroit Electric Coupe
  • 1929 Packard Roadster
  • We'll be open late Saturday night for car enthusiasts to enjoy exploring Greenfield Village looking for some of their favorite classic cars in the gaslight parade as they enjoy the sounds of The Hotel Savarine Society Orchestra. Which car will you be looking for? Share your favorites online us by tagging your content with #GVOldCarFest.

    antique cars