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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation: 200 Episodes and Counting

Hard-to-see black-and-white image of a group of people posed for the photo on a lawn among trees
During the filming of a segment on tintype photography in September 2019, the film crew of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation had their own tintype taken in Greenfield Village. / THF141945

This week, we are happy to celebrate the 200th episode of our television show, The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation! In honor of this milestone, we wanted to share some fun trivia that even our superfans might not know, reveal some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the show, and point viewers to additional resources to allow them to further explore the buildings, artifacts, and stories shared on each and every episode.

When did The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation first air?

Patricia Mooradian, President & CEO of The Henry Ford, first announced the new show on June 4, 2014. The very first episode aired on CBS that fall: September 27, 2014.

What was featured on the very first episode?

The first episode featured a special steering wheel to prevent distracted driving, the ways in which drones are becoming part of our everyday lives, micro windmills, and The Henry Ford’s own Menlo Park Laboratory, where Thomas Edison once worked. Check out the trailer for the first episode below—or watch the whole episode for free (and without an account) on PlutoTV.

The trailer for the first-ever episode of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. / YouTube

Was The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation the first TV show for The Henry Ford?

No, it was not. We were a pioneer in using television to reach students in the classroom as early as the mid-1950s with our first show, Window to the Past. You can learn more about this show and its history, as well as some other notable television milestones at The Henry Ford, on our blog here. You can also learn about staff member Marion Corwell, who planned, wrote, produced, and hosted Window to the Past, here.

How many fans does The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation have?

It’s hard to put an exact number on our fans, but we do know that since the first season, episodes of the show have been viewed more than 500 million times. During season seven last year, about 1.2 million viewers tuned in each week. The show’s social media channels also have close to 100,000 followers combined—you can find and follow The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Does the show air beyond the United States?

Yes, the show is distributed in 64 international territories.

What artifacts from The Henry Ford have been featured on the show?

Lime green, mustard yellow, and white bus with sign "Cleveland Ave" on front
The Rosa Parks Bus, featured on episode three of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. / THF134576

With seven full seasons and most of season eight under our belt, we have featured hundreds of artifacts from our collections—from the Rosa Parks Bus in our third episode of season one to the Gunsolly Carding Mill in Greenfield Village on episode 165 in season seven. You can learn more about key artifacts featured each year in these Expert Sets: season one, season two, season three, season four, season five, season six, season seven, and season eight.

How many Daytime Emmys has The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation won?

We are pleased to say we have been nominated seventeen times and have won three times.

What do the crew, host, and correspondents of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation love about working on the show?

To find out, take a look at this clip, which also features some behind-the-scenes footage.

Go behind the scenes with the crew, host, and correspondents of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. / YouTube

What are some of our curators’ favorite moments from filming?

When we hit our 100th episode in April 2018, we asked a few of our curators to share a favorite moment from the first four seasons. They mentioned segments on the Moog synthesizer, our railroad snowplow, Henry Ford’s Quadricycle, and Susana Allen Hunter’s quilts. You can read those stories on our blog here.

Have we added any artifacts related to the show to The Henry Ford’s collections?

Two men smile smile for a selfie with a large old-fashioned box camera and modern photography equipment behind them
Photographer Rudy Ruzicska snapped a selfie with Mo Rocca during filming in 2015. / THF253593

Yes, and you can see three of them in our Digital Collections right now. Two are tintypes, taken during filming of the segment on tintype photographyone of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation’s host, Mo Rocca, with Curator of Domestic Life Jeanine Head Miller, and one of the show’s crew (which you can see at the top of this post). You’ll also find a selfie of The Henry Ford’s long-time photographer, Rudy Ruzicska, with Mo, taken during the filming of the segment on digitizing our collections.

How do we add additional context to the stories you see on The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation?

Our staff does an awful lot of behind-the-scenes work to help expand on and clarify the show’s collections stories beyond the three or four minutes of footage that make it into each episode. Saige Jedele, Associate Curator, Digital Content, at The Henry Ford, spends a lot of her time helping tease out these stories. You can check out her blog post to learn why and how our Digital Collections provide critical support for every episode of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation.

Saige also works with our curators and other experts to create an episode page for each new episode, featuring links to blog posts, videos, artifact sets, and more resources that provide context around each story. These pages are a great resource for educators and the general public alike.

In preparing for the show, our own experts take a deep dive into each subject, and often learn new—and sometimes surprising—new information about the topic. Earlier this year, Senior Curator and Curator of Public Life Donna Braden wrote about preparing for an episode segment on Dr. Alonson Howard of Dr. Howard's Office in Greenfield Village. Learn more about the types of research we do and the kinds of things we uncover as we plan each story in her blog post.

What are the most popular collections stories from the show?

Most segments from the show can be found on The Henry Ford’s YouTube channel. Producer Amber Stankoff of our film team recently took a look at the top ten most-viewed collections segments. Railroad-related topics hold down slots number ten, cabooses, and number nine, Greenfield Village’s Detroit Toledo & Milwaukee Roundhouse. Number eight is typewriters, number seven is Thomas Edison’s talking dolls, and number six is the Model T. Continue the countdown by watching the top five below!

Our fifth-most popular collections segment from The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation covers the history of the V8 engine. / YouTube

Fourth on the list is Henry Ford’s Quadricycle. / YouTube

The Rosa Parks Bus comes in at number three. / YouTube

Number two is our overview of presidential vehicles in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. / YouTube

And (drum roll…) the most-watched collections segment of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation is the battle of Ford vs. Ferrari at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans. / YouTube

What is your favorite segment from the show—or what would you like to see us cover in upcoming episodes?

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

TV, by Ellice Engdahl, #Behind The Scenes @ The Henry Ford, The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

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