Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

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

ice-cream-tray

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

TV_N.B.34608

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

ford-detail

Memorial Day, June 1, school letting out. It seems there are plenty of different dates that mark the beginning of summer for some people; the summer solstice on June 21 being far too late.

For me, summer has always begun with the flash of sunshine on chrome-heavy bumpers, the throaty roar of a high-performance engine, and the smell of barbecue tinged with a bit of exhaust – for me, summer begins on June 14 this year, and every year around this time, with our Motor Muster car show in Greenfield Village.

This event is the essence of summertime fun – distilled delight for all the senses. Just as novelist Ray Bradbury in his 1957 classic, Dandelion Wine, described the nostalgic summer wine made by the main character’s grandfather, Motor Muster is “...summer on the tongue...(it’s) summer caught and stoppered.” Continue Reading

mustang

The 1965 Ford Mustang, the right car at the right time. (Object ID: 66.47.1)
 

Fifty years on, it’s almost impossible to imagine the American road without the Mustang. What would actor Steve McQueen have raced through the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt? What would singer Wilson Pickett have regretted buying for “Mustang Sally?” What would the 11,000 members of the Mustang Club of America celebrate? The Mustang is more than a car. It’s an icon, an image and a lifestyle.

Of course, none of this was predicted when Henry Ford II unveiled the Mustang at Ford Motor Company’s pavilion at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964. Ford was taking a chance with an unprecedented concept pitched at an untested market. How and why the company took that gamble is a fascinating story of vision, determination and luck. Continue Reading

design, by Matt Anderson, Mustangs, cars

margolies-sign

John Margolies has spent decades traveling the roads of America and photographing roadside attractions, restaurants, shops, and motels. Many of them are in varying states of abandonment and decline, but harken back to the excitement of 20th century road trips and the unique commercial designs they spawned. The Henry Ford recently acquired about 1,500 slides by John Margolies, and is digitizing selections by Chief Curator and Curator of Industry & Design Marc Greuther, including this drive-in cleaners’ sign photographed in 1987 in Oregon. View more selections from the Margolies collection on our collections website.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections Initiative Manager at The Henry Ford.

continental

Visitors to Henry Ford Museum will see a new vehicle in Driving America. Edsel Ford’s 1941 Lincoln Continental convertible is now in the exhibit’s “Design” section, located just behind Lamy’s Diner. The original Lincoln Continental, built between 1939 and 1948, is regarded as one of the most beautiful automobiles ever to come out of Detroit. It’s an important design story that we’re delighted to share.

The Continental’s tale began in the fall of 1938 as Edsel Ford returned from a trip to Europe. While overseas, Ford was struck by the look of European sports cars with their long hoods, short trunks and rear-mounted spare tires. When Ford got home, he approached Lincoln designer E.T. “Bob” Gregorie and asked him to create a custom car with a “continental” look. Using the Lincoln Zephyr as his base, Gregorie produced an automobile with clean, pure lines free of superfluous chrome ornaments or then-standard running boards. Continue Reading

luxury cars, Henry Ford Museum, Ford Motor Company, Edsel Ford, Driving America, design, cars, by Matt Anderson

Charles Francis Jenkins and the Radio Facsimile

Descending on a flight to Portland, Maine, via Detroit, I see spotty islands and stacked heaps of stone blocks forming cliffs below. Boats slice through the butter sea, raising triangles of white foam in their wake. The plane banks sharply north, angling toward a half-round castle structure, secluded on its own island--a prison, a sanctuary, a quarantine bunker--or perhaps just an old garrison fort whose presence is rendered ominous by its utter inaccessibility. Fort Gorges, as I would later come to know it, was in fact part of a triangulated defense line active during the American Civil War, working alongside Fort Preble and Fort Scrammel, a sod-roofed sneak camouflaging itself as a hillside. These two stone guardians of Casco Bay likewise emerge into view as the commuter plane lurches through a patch of turbulence and aligns itself with the landing strip. Continue Reading