Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Where in the world is The Henry Ford this weekend? Pebble Beach, Calif.!

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has invited The Henry Ford to showcase our 1950 Lincoln “Bubbletop” Presidential Limousine in its 63rd showing. As part of this stellar automotive event, we appear as one of the select cars on the famed 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links.

This year’s show field focuses on one-off custom-bodied Lincolns. After Ford Motor Company purchased Lincoln in 1922, Edsel Ford further defined it with superior styling and elegant custom coachwork. Long one of America’s elite luxury cars, Lincoln served as the official vehicle for presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush.

This isn't the first time the Bubbletop has been on display outside of the museum. In 2012, The Henry Ford proudly exhibited our Bubbletop in England during the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Queen Elizabeth.

The car's bubbletop

Secret Service agent platform

What else should you know about the Bubbletop?

  • Built for President Harry S. Truman in 1950, and used by President Dwight D. Eisenhowser
  • Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson also used this car as a spare until its retirement in 1967
  • Assembled by the Ford Motor Company in Detroit
  • Special bodywork done by Raymond Dietrich, Dietrich Creative Industries, Grand Rapids, Mich
  • Engine: V-8 L-head
  • Horsepower: 152
  • Displacement: 336.7 cubic inches
  • Weight: 6,500 pounds
  • Total of 10 limousines built at a cost of $500,000
  • President Eisenhowser added the distinctive plastic "bubbletop," which is removable so presidents could be seen during parades in all weather
  • A folding bug shield protects the president's face when standing during parades
  • A platform in back holds Secrete Service agents
  • Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

    Car Shows

    “We’re going to let people try and hack the museum?!”

    When I first heard this a few months back, my jaw dropped. Hack the museum?! What?! Are you serious? What museum would even think of doing such a thing? Well, The Henry Ford would. We were indeed opening ourselves up to hacking, but not like you would first think.

    hackathonlogoAs part of Maker Faire Detroit 2013, our partners at Compuware came up with the great idea to host our first-ever hackathon inside Henry Ford Museum with the challenge of “creating an application which combines The Henry Ford’s digital collection with the imagination and power that are an essential part of the mobile culture today.” We were opening ourselves up to hacking, but by way of APIs used with our digital collections.

    Nestled above the “Heroes of the Sky” exhibit toward the back of the museum, six teams worked all day Saturday trying to create the most unique app for us possible. Nineteen participants, some local, some from out of town, consumed a lot of caffeinated beverages and wrote a lot of code as the faire happened around them.

    Mike Butman, our Chief Information Officer at The Henry Ford, worked with the teams on how best to access the collections’ APIs throughout the day. For Mike, the hackathon was not only a way to see new ideas, but a source of inspiration and personal challenge.

    “It was extremely invigorating,” Mike told me. “Not just to see the technical components, but to see the outside perspective and how these individuals could develop something for our guests to interact with.”

    With their work done at the end of the day on Saturday, all that was left was a presentation to our team of judges. The six teams presented their ideas and made their cases in front of our judges. The judges that had the tough job of selecting just one winner included:

  • Matthew David, Chief Digital Strategist at Compuware
  • Eric Weinhoffer, Product Development Engineer at MAKE
  • Bruce Elenbogen, Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems at UofM Dearborn
  • Lauren Ann Davies, Deadline Detroit
  • Marilyn Zoidis, Director of Historical Resources at The Henry Ford
  • In the end, we had one winner and two runners-up (I said it was a tough choice). Team 42 and Chi-Ackers took second place with Sam Harrell of Team Sam taking home top honors. What was the app that wowed our judges so much?

    Hackathon App

    The app used image recognition with computer vision, kind of like augmented reality.

    Hackathon App

    Guests take the app and move it across a sign. The app recognizes points on the sign and pulls related information from the digital collections of The Henry Ford.

    Spanish

    The app can then also translate the information into dozens of languages. It’s easy to use. Instead of looking for information on multiple web pages within your mobile browser, all related items are pulled together all in one place.

    Sam had been thinking of an app like this for a while. The hackathon, with the access to our APIs, was just what he needed to pull it all together.

    “I loved the thrill of starting something from scratch and building it out,” he said.

    Will you see the app anytime soon? There’s consideration here at the institution of being able to make something out of the results from the hackathons, like the one at Maker Faire Detroit, in the future.

    For Compuware’s Matthew David, suggesting a hackathon as part of their Maker Faire Detroit sponsorship was a natural idea. Hackathons all across the globe continue to gain popularity. For small groups of people, a hackathon often gives them the opportunity to not only be developers but also entrepreneurs. Did you know that the Facebook “Like” button was the result of a Facebook hackathon?!

    “When you work on emerging technology, you’re so very passionate about it,” Matthew said. “Being up to your eyeballs in code, racing against the clock for a fun prize... people are doing it for the honor of winning. They light up Silicon Valley passions outside of Silicon Valley. Folks really can do something. These solutions emerging and then happening? That’s pretty fantastic.”

    Digital Collections Initiative Manager Ellice Engdahl proudly watched the presentations the next day on Sunday. To the leader of the team creating and publishing our digital collections, the idea of allowing outside developers access to our raw data meant a lot.

    “The true purpose of digitizing our collections, both on the floor and in storage, is to make them available. If our digital assets aren’t used, there’s no point in creating them,” Ellice said. “It was fabulous to see creative programmers find new ways to share our materials.”

    Ellice also really appreciated the thoughtful way each team approached the challenge and brought their own perspective to it.

    “Team 42 was interested in engaging diverse audiences, Team Chi-Ackers wanted to encourage learning through collections-related gaming, Team CIA encouraged easy sharing from the museum to visitors and from visitors to visitors, Team Handsome Quartet encouraged users to gain social badges through viewing collections objects, Team Sam thought about how the existing labels on the Museum floor could be improved and enhanced, and Team Wambatech incorporated outside videos and images alongside our own assets,” she said. “It was great to see such a variety of results coming out of the teams’ original goals and perspectives, and exciting to think of the diverse audiences that would appreciate all the teams’ efforts.”

    While the hackathon has come and gone for 2013, the enthusiasm is here to stay. You can keep up to date with Maker Faire Detroit updates on our website and through our enthusiast channel, OnMaking.

    If you had a chance to create an app for The Henry Ford, what would you make?

    Maker Faire Detroit 2013 Hack the Museum Participants

    Team Sam

  • Sam Harrell - Chief Hacker
  • Team 42

  • David Wilhelm - Developer; HTML/CSS, Javascript & PHP
  • John Leftwich - HTML/CSS/design - Education Consultant
  • Katherine Scott - Interaction Engineer/IMAGINEER
  • Jennifer A. Scroggins - Front-end design and dev; HTML/CSS; all-around idea person museum junkie
  • Chi-Ackers

  • Jeff Molsen - Development
  • Cody Greene - Robotics and Development
  • Dennis J. Schleicher, Jr. - User Experience
  • The Handsome Quartet

  • Jon Radon - Moral Support
  • Robert Muhic - Core Operations Development Engineer, Manager of Nightly key Enterprise Yodeling
  • Eric Panek - Senior IT Director of Enterprise Code Monkey Operations Architect and Human Resources II
  • Peter Richards - Developer & Senior Caffeine Acquisition Officer
  • Creative Innovators Achievers (CIA)

  • Mukesh Gupta - Lead
  • Krishna Mudiraj - Developer/Designer
  • Reda Bouaichi - Developer/Designer
  • Vijay Vardhan - Architect
  • Wambatech

  • Jason Rodriguez - Designer
  • Shane O’Dell - Developer
  • Jeff Goergen - Developer
  • Nathaniel Plane - Developer/Team Lead
  • Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

    computers, hacking, Maker Faire Detroit, making

    I began my internship with Charles Sable, Curator of Decorative Arts, in September of 2011. My assignment: to educate myself on the history of American lighting, research the lighting collection at The Henry Ford, and help to prepare for a visit of four antique lighting clubs that was scheduled for October of 2012.

    I was excited for this opportunity; I enjoy research and was curious to see what was in the collection. As I began to learn the history of lighting and understand fuel sources and mechanics, I quickly found the breadth of the project was far greater than I had initially imagined! My preliminary research took about four months; I then began combing through some 7,000 lighting-related objects in the collection to select appropriate examples to present to the lighting collectors. This was done by searching the Henry Ford Museum’s collections management system.

    To better understand the lighting collection at The Henry Ford, it's important to know its history, which can be traced back nearly 100 years, when Henry Ford first began collecting in the 1920s. During Ford’s creation of a museum that would “reproduce American life as lived,” (Simands, William A. & Stokes, Frederick A. Henry Ford and Greenfield Village. New York, p. 117) his agents scanned the country for objects that represented the development of the American experience. He was passionate about technological innovations of all kinds, with an interest in the evolution of lighting and the development of electricity, influenced by his close friendship with and admiration for Thomas Edison. This led him to acquire a substantial collection of lighting objects. Though some examples were peculiar and unique, many were rather conventional. These objects represent the technologies of their time period, as Americans searched for the most efficient lighting options.

    Betty Lamp made by Peter Derr, 1848 (Object ID 67.6.2).

    Kerosene Lamp, 1880-1900 (Object ID 00.4.588).

    The origin of much of the collection is difficult to pinpoint. Many objects were acquired before 1940 and were not documented the way objects are today. Luckily, Henry Ford kept the receipts for many of his purchases. These records provide clues that indicate Ford initially began collecting chronologically. He started with the oldest forms of lighting, such as candlesticks and rushlights, and by the 1930s was collecting gasoline-fueled lighting. The initiative to collect lighting ebbed after Ford’s death in 1947, but picked back up again in the 1960s and 1970s under the curatorship of Carleton Brown.

    Though the collection was acquired in many stages, its significance is clear: it represents the evolution of lighting, and the search for a fuel that would burn brightly, was safe to use, easily accessible, and affordable.

    Whale Oil Wall Sconce, 1840-1860 (Object ID 62.70.511); India Rubber Safety Lamp, 1855 (Object ID 00.919.3); Grand-Val's Perfect Time Indicator Lamp, 1880 (Object ID 66.7.24)

    Working chronologically, as Henry Ford did when assembling the collection, I sorted the objects into categories. The process of selecting those that would be shown to the visiting collectors then began. Working with two representatives from the groups, Charles and I spent several days going through the collection determining which objects would make the cut. The collectors were interested in unique examples, patent models, and rare pieces. After careful consideration, 25 objects were selected, and we ended up with some very interesting and unique picks!

    Alonzo Platt Fish Oil Chandelier, 1836 (Object ID 65.26.1); Cigar Lighter & Cutter, "Smoke George W. Childs Cigars," circa 1877 (Object ID 34.717.1).

    During the weekend of Oct. 12, 2012, the four organizations (the Rushlight Club, The Historical Lighting Society of Canada, The Night Light Club, and the Fairy Lamp Club) visited The Henry Ford. They toured Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village to see the lighting on display, and were able to examine the 25 objects we selected. It was certainly a rewarding experience for everyone involved!

    Though much of the lighting collection is not currently on display, visitors to the museum can see lighting examples in the "Made in America" and "Fully Furnished" exhibits, as well as inside many of the homes in Greenfield Village. All the objects chosen to show the collectors have been digitized for public viewing; for the remaining objects not shown here, take a look at our online collections site. You can see the artifacts listed here and more!

    By Melanie Parker

    interns, lighting, lights

    Earlier this summer we were honored to have some of NASCAR's greatest drivers paired with the drivers of tomorrow for a tour across our campus. Take a look at this video as Curator of Transportation Matt Anderson talks about their visits.

    race car drivers, race cars, racing

    On June 12, 2013, the fully restored 1897 Baldwin Locomotive; affectionately known by The Henry Ford employees, volunteers and frequent roundhouse guests as “Number 7,” went onto the Greenfield Village railroad tracks under its own power. The last time this engine had run under its own steam was 83 years earlier at the Ford Rouge Plant.

    Baldwin No. 7 at the Roundhouse

    Photo courtesy David Matt

    Despite its almost regal dark green cab, Russian Iron jacketing and extensive gold and red hand painted trim, Number 7 did not initially live a pampered existence. Besides the 1910 “combination” accident that saw our locomotive buried under a caboose body from another train; its history is typical of many locomotives of that time when railroads were owned by investors that were only interested in squeezing out as much profit as possible. Bankruptcies of these railroads were common and diligent maintenance of equipment was not.

    Unlike Number 7's counterparts it had a much brighter ending. This ending was created by Henry Ford and his acquisition of the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railway in 1920.

    According to The Henry Ford's registrars file the construction of this 4-4-0 American class locomotive (Baldwin Order No. 15317) and tender was completed sometime in May of 1897. Delivery to its original owner, the Detroit and Lima Northern Railway, was most likely in early July of that year.

    The company that manufactured the locomotive and tender was Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. This massive facility that eventually covered 7 square blocks of the “Bush Hill” industrial district produced 501 locomotives that year. Baldwin was the world’s preeminent manufacturer of steam locomotives with 40 percent of what they manufactured being exported. Their customer base included railroads in France and Japan. In 1897 they employed 3,200 men with the vast assortment of special skills required to manufacture the giant locomotives with the precision required.

    Baldwin had developed a manufacturing process that would allow them to build a locomotive from “order to delivery” in an astoundingly short eight weeks. They did not build a “standard” locomotive but instead treated each order as a new design with components designed and manufactured by combining common templates and processes to match the customer’s unique specifications.

    The first three of the eight-week manufacturing process were used to create the drawings required for the ordered locomotive. During the following two weeks all the materials and outside sourced components or subassemblies were ordered. These purchased items represented about 50 percent of the total cost for the project. In the following two weeks the boiler shop would fabricate the boiler as the other Baldwin shops completed the castings, forgings, and required machining. The eighth week was used in the erection facility where all the components and subassemblies would be assembled into a complete and functioning locomotive. It would then go through a brief prove-out prior to delivery to the customer.

    Baldwin 15317 went through this process and when assembled; the cab and tender were painted dark green with gold trim and the tender had Detroit & Lima Northern Railway in gold letters on both sides. When build number 15317 left the Baldwin factory it carried the D&LNR designation #7 on its number plate. Number 7 was a steam powered coal burner that was designed and built to pull passenger cars. Besides the passenger cars its tender would carry up to seven tons of coal and the 3,350 gallons of water necessary for its operation.

    The Detroit and Lima Northern Railway started its short lived existence in Ohio sometime during 1896. Chase M. Haskell, Ohio attorney and prominent Democrat, along with other promoters began selling bonds to create a new railway called the Lima Northern. It would haul freight and passengers from Lima, through Ohio and into southern Michigan. Shortly after, plans were made to extend the railway to Detroit and Columbus with the name being changed to the Detroit & Lima Northern Railroad. Within a few months the contractors for the extended rail lines took legal action because they had not received any money. In 1898 the railroad was placed in receivership. Haskell moved on to Oklahoma and in 1907 become its first governor.

    The D & LNR operated under receivership until 1901 when it was purchased by New York banker Frederick J. Lisman and the name was changed to the Detroit Southern Railway Company. The banker was an authority on railroad finances and had been prominent in that field for years. As was typical at the time of Lisman’s ownership, he was involved in numerous acquisitions and mergers to extend the systems routes and profits. All went well until a bad economy in 1904 once again forced the railroad into receivership. Following a sale in 1905 the company became the Detroit Toledo & Ironton Railroad. The new DT & I name would continue to exist under various owners until December 1983 when the railroad was assimilated into the Grand Trunk Western Railroad and the DT & I identity disappeared.

    The DT& I went into receivership in 1908: elements of the business were sold off but the company continued to operate. In 1914 the company was reorganized and some of the elements that had been sold off were reacquired. The next few years would see a number of significant improvements as heavier railing were installed, buildings were improved and many trestles rebuilt.

    As a part of these improvements; the locomotives and other rolling stock (freight cars, tank cars & etc) that had been very poorly maintained during all the financial trauma, were given some much needed attention. This effort did not last; in 1918, in order to better support the war effort (WW I), the federal government took over control of the nations railroads. This control was in place until March of 1920. During those years, rail traffic significantly increased with war production goods and much needed maintenance of the rolling stock was absolutely minimized. DT & I equipment seemed to suffer more than others and according to Scott D. Trostel in his book; Henry Ford: When I Ran the Railroads “the fleet was described in such poor state of repair with drive rods and cross heads that pounded so badly they could be heard for miles.” One of the results of this was that our Number 7 was barely operable in 1920.

    In June of 1920 the ownership of the DT&I Railroad was transferred to the Ford Motor Company where Henry would transform it into one of the best managed and financially successful railroads in the country.

    Ford’s reason for the purchase of the DT&I was to extend its terminating point of Flat Rock to Dearborn and use it to help supply his new sprawling complex, the Rouge Plant. This ultimately supported Henry’s vision to have a manufacturing facility where coal, iron ore, rubber and all raw materials required to construct an automobile, would come in one end of the Rouge and a completed vehicle would roll out the other end. To accomplish this, the rolling stock (80 locomotives, 2,800 freight and 24 passenger cars) would have to be completely rebuilt to Fords impressive standards. A new building was constructed (the Fordson Shop) at the Rouge to facilitate the rebuild and maintenance of the new acquisition. The facility was opened in 1921 with a staff that eventually reached 475 men with the first locomotive to undergo a Ford transformation being DT&I engine Number 7. It was completely stripped down and inspected. Anything that needed it was replaced. Aesthetics were also a part of the transformation; drive rods were draw filed and polished, exposed iron pipes were replaced with bright copper, new boiler jackets were finished in a lacquered Russian Iron and the outside of the metal tires were painted white.

    Henry Ford stands at the Tender of DT&I Number 7 Locomotive.

    When the rebuild was completed “Number 7” was put into service at the disposal of Henry Ford who had assumed the roll of DT&I president. It was frequently used to take Henry to various points along the line to attend meetings or visit with friends such as Thomas Edison or Harvey Firestone. Some of these trips would include his private rail car the “Fairlane” as part of the “consist” (listing of locomotive and attached cars). According to staff and others along the route, Henry could be seen in the cab during some of these trips. Some who witnessed these trips said Henry could occasionally be seen setting in the engineer’s seat with his engineer Harry Cochran a step away.

    Ford owned the railroad until June of 1929 when he became irritated with the intervention of the Interstate Commerce Commissions over shipping rates and other issues. The DT&I was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad for $36 million. Besides the profits and rate advantage enjoyed during the Ford ownership he turned his initial $5 million purchase price and approximately $8 million of improvements into an impressive $23 million profit.

    DT&I Locomotive #7 was on display in the Henry Ford Museum until late in 1985.

    Number 7 was not a part of this sale. Sometime in 1930 it underwent a restoration at the Ford Rouge’s Fordson Shops and was donated to the Edison Institute (now The Henry Ford) and put on display in the Henry Ford Museum. It remained in the museum until 1985 when it was moved to our train shed (now the Antique Vehicles Garage).

    Number 7 remained untouched in the train shed until 1997 when the train staff began a preliminary investigation to see if it was practical to attempt to make the locomotive operational. The jacketing was taken off, the asbestos insulation was removed and metallurgical tests were done to asses the boilers condition.

    The 1930 restoration at the Fordson shops was originally thought to have been a complete mechanical and cosmetic upgrading. A later examination revealed that the 1930 restoration was primarily cosmetic but some other elements of that restoration would lead to some real surprises during the recent one.

    If Number 7 was ever to run again many parts of its now 80-plus-year-old boiler would have to be replaced and this would require complete disassembly of the locomotive. The new sections of the boiler that would have to be fabricated and installed were the boiler floor, rear tube sheet (boiler end), firebox door sheet, and all of the boilers heat tubes. These are all large parts that must be formed from heavy gauge steel sheet or tubing. The only parts that could be purchased from an outside supplier were the 167 heavy walled heat tubes. All other parts would be fabricated here and an attempt would be made to produce them with the same processes that would have been used in roundhouses of that period. To fabricate these parts and install them would require hundreds of man hours. Even the hammers that would be used for forming the heavy metal would have to be fabricated here.

    There were some additional issues that needed to be dealt with before the locomotive could be placed in service. The most labor intensive was that the frame of Number 7s tender was made of wood and had deteriorated to the point where it would not be able to handle day to day service at the Village. The only viable solution was to fabricate an all new metal frame. The second issue was that: in order for the much longer Baldwin to navigate the tight turns of the Village’s 2.5 mile railroad, modifications to the front truck and drive wheels would have to be made. These changes included making swing links for the front truck and additional thrust clearance was provided by machining the drive axles.

    Don LaCombe is Supervisor of the Transportation and Crafts Program at The Henry Ford.

    References
    Henry Ford: When I Ran the Railroads (Scott D. Trostel)
    The Baldwin Locomotive Works 1831 – 1915 (John K. Brown)
    DT&I The Railroad That Went No Place (William C. Pletz - The Inside Track 1979)
    The Sad Romance of the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railway Age, July 1920
    THF Object Report # 30.235.2
    Registrars File Acc. 30.235.2
    Curators File Acc. 30.235.2

    railroads, trains

    Driving without a license is a big no-no. It's against the law, right? Today, more than 200 million people in the U.S. have driver's licenses. It's even sort of a right of a passage into adulthood when teens get one.

    Henry Ford was 56 when he became street legal in 1919. In part, this was because it was the first year Michigan, his home state, issued driver's licenses (Chicago was first in 1899). But mostly it was because his wife got a call from a police officer one day. The officer informed Mrs. Ford that her husband and grandson had been pulled over (supposedly for "driving like a bat out of hell") without licenses. When the two got home, she sent her grandson to his room and her husband got a stern talking to. So the story goes...

    (This story originally appeared in the June-December 2013 issue of "The Henry Ford Magazine".)

    Henry's 1919 license, along with his 1921 license, are held within the collections of The Henry Ford. What did other states' licenses look like in the 1920s? Take a look.

    drivers, driving

    HENRY 150 SEAL_chromeNew England Institute of Technology, with three campuses in Rhode Island, has formed its own Quadricycle Club. The purpose of this club is to have Mechanical Engineering Technology (MCT) students, as well as interested students from any of the college’s more than 40 academic programs, work collaboratively towards a goal of reverse engineering, manufacturing, and building Henry Ford’s first automobile, the Quadricycle. Club Advisor, Christopher Vasconselas, a faculty member in the MCT program is thrilled to see the excitement in his students as they bring their very own Quadricycle to life. The club meets anywhere from 2-5 hours per week, and the members hope to have the Quadricycle ready to take its maiden voyage in two years—a labor of love for certain.

    The club was formed one year ago and now has 20 members who are familiar with various computer software programs such as SolidWorks mechanical design software as well as Microsoft Word and Excel. They work with equipment such as a manual engine lathe, manual vertical mill, horizontal and vertical band saw, pedestal grinder, and belt sander. There are many activities and skills that these students must perform in the building of the Quadricycle, some of which include interpreting engineering drawings, solid modeling using SolidWorks software, raw material and parts quoting, machining metal, basic carpentry work, electrical wiring, welding, and assembly. In fact, the students are making the majority of the parts from scratch with only 10-15 percent being produced by outside vendors. One student is even doing welding at home. Everyone is so enthusiastic!

    NEIT Blog Photo 2

    The students are honing their electrical, carpentry, machining and assembly skills. So far, they have manufactured the main bearings, front spindle arm, drive pulley, ignition spring holder, drive pulley washers, drive sprocket, connecting rods, rear engine support, timing gear bolt, drive sprocket pins, rudder connector, water jackets, front engine mount, rear axle bearings, front engine bolt and support, and jackshaft.

  • Two students built a Quadricycle dolly so the car can be easily moved from place to place during construction.
  • The New England Tech Quadricycle is the only one of its kind in Rhode Island. After taking it for a few spins around the college parking lot, Chris hopes to showcase the Quadricycle at the college for faculty, staff, students and visitors to enjoy. To follow the club’s progress, email Chris at cvasconselas@neit.edu or call 401-739-5000, ext. 3617. You can view his photo library here.

    Under the leadership of President Richard I. Gouse, New England Institute of Technology is a private, non-profit technical college with an enrollment of more than 3,000 students. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.

    Follow NEIT on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Tumblr, and the NEIT Blog.

    By Linda Dionne. Since 2009, Linda A. Dionne has served as Media Relations Specialist at New England Institute of Technology in East Greenwich, RI. In addition to writing articles for various trade publications and blogs, Linda is responsible for preparing and distributing press releases as well as coordinating all media requests and interviews. Linda is also the editor for the college’s quarterly newspaper, Tech News, and a monthly on-line newsletter, Tech Talk. Linda is a graduate of Bryant University (RI) with a Bachelor of Science degree in management and marketing.

    education, quadricycle

    When you think of Henry Ford, you think of cars almost immediately. Violins probably don't come to mind, do they? While it may come as a surprise to some today, Henry was a lover of violins and classic American music. He loved the fiddle and country dancing, two things that reminded him of his childhood. Henry could often be found in Lovett Hall dancing with Clara Ford as the band played and dances were called throughout the night.

    Henry amassed an impressive collection of violins in the early part of the 20th century. Those violins are now within the collections of The Henry Ford, but occasionally they are loaned to other institutions for exhibition or, in the case of Sphinx, loaned to promising young musicians, like Gareth Johnson, to be played for new audiences. Gareth recently played the 1709 Siberian Stradivarius during our National Day of Courage in February.

    In this video, Curator of Domestic Life Jeanine Head Miller shares additional insight on Henry and his violins, and why having someone like Gareth play them today would have made him very proud.

    antique violins, Henry Ford violins, violins

    Located outside of the Benson Ford Research Center's reading room the past few weeks has been a case of birthday telegrams sent to Henry Ford on his birthday over the years. We asked Jake Hildebrandt, reading room assistant, a few questions about the telegrams in anticipation of Henry's birthday.

    edselWhy did people send telegrams versus other forms of communication?

    Speed was definitely the main draw to telegrams. Telephones were widespread by the time of these telegrams, but like today it was a lot easier to get a written communiqué to a VIP than a phone call. Telegrams cost a great deal more and in many cases took more effort to send than a letter or card through the post, so there was an element of importance and respect in that way.

    How many Henry Ford birthday cards do we currently have in collections?

    We have only a few dozen actual Ford's birthday "cards" in our collection, but hundreds of telegrams. Many of the cards are intricate and complicated, with layers of lace and metallic foil and such. Really beautiful things that are a world away from the printed stock we send today.

    What is your favorite birthday card received by Henry Ford?

    I couldn't choose a favorite, but there is a really neat scrapbook-type album of novelty cards that Ray Dahlinger put together for Henry Ford. The cards themselves are really fun, and the book shows an interestingly playful side to the two men.

    Where can we look at more birthday cards?

    Most of Mr. Ford's birthday cards can be viewed by anyone in the reading room of the BFRC!

    Interview and photos by Krista Oldham, Marketing and PR Intern at The Henry Ford.

    communicationis, telegrams

    Not only was Henry Ford one of the most famous industrialists in the world, he was also one of the most photographed.

    Our collections include thousands of photos of Henry’s activities and encounters, taken by friends, relatives, the Ford Motor Company, and other photographers.

    Here are just 10 of my favorites...

    Henry Ford

    Henry Ford, then an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company, with his bicycle and his moustache, Detroit, Michigan, 1893 (THF95021).

    Henry Ford

    Henry Ford parking his Quadricycle, built in 1896, in New York City, 1910 (THF96913).

    ford-kulick

    Henry Ford and race car driver Frank Kulick seated in a Ford Model T during a flood, circa 1916 (THF97215).

    Henry Ford and the Vagabonds

    “The Vagabonds,” Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone during a camping trip near Lead Mine, West Virginia, 1918 (THF105476).

    Henry Ford With a Fiddle

    Henry Ford playing one of his “fiddles,” circa 1920 (THF108028).

    Henry Ford and Model T

    Henry Ford with a Model T, Buffalo, New York, 1921 (THF104072).

    Henry Ford and Thomas Edison

    Henry Ford and Thomas Edison at the dedication of the Menlo Park Glass House in Greenfield Village, 1929 (THF109769).

    Henry Ford Tests Bumper Strength

    Henry Ford demonstrating the strength of plastics made from soybeans, 1940 (THF91634).

    Henry Ford and HG Wells

    Henry Ford and author H. G. Wells touring the Cotswold Cottage in Greenfield Village, 1931 (THF108521).

    Henry Ford and Celebrities

    Edsel Ford, Henry Ford, actor Mickey Rooney and movie studio head Louis B. Mayer aboard the Ten-Person Oriten Bicycle in Henry Ford Museum, February 8, 1940 (THF109784).

    Jim Orr, Image Services Specialist, would have gone around that puddle.

    Henry Ford photos