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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

The Historical Figures of Star Trek

June 24, 2019 Innovation Impact

Though the various series and movies of Star Trek are set in the future, those crews and characters sometimes ended up crossing paths with historical figures familiar to those of us stuck here in the 21st century.  Image Services Specialist (and Trekkie) Jim Orr shares some objects from our collection that tie to those notables, and explains each Star Trek connection as we continue to celebrate our latest exhibit in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, "Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds."

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Life Mask of Abraham Lincoln by Clark Mills

In the 1966 Star Trek episode "The Savage Curtain," Captain Kirk and Commander Spock become unwilling participants in an alien experiment to determine which is stronger—good or evil.  Their allies included a doppelganger of Kirk's hero, President Abraham Lincoln.

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Relief Plaque of "The Last Supper"

In the 1969 Star Trek episode "Requiem for Methuselah," Kirk encounters an ancient, immortal being who claims to have been many notable figures from history, including Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci.  Another version of Leonardo da Vinci would appear in the 1997 Star Trek: Voyager episode "Concerning Flight," in which alien arms dealers steal the U.S.S. Voyager's holographic equipment.

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Bookplate of Jack London, circa 1905

In the 1992 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow," Lieutenant Commander Data finds himself stranded in the year 1893 after an encounter with time-traveling aliens.  There, he befriends hotel bellhop (and aspiring writer) Jack London.

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Portrait of Mark Twain, by Edoardo Gelli, 1904

While attempting to rescue a time-traveling Data from 1893 San Francisco in the 1992 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow," the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise accidentally returns with author Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain).

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Book, "Opticks: or a Treatise on Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours of Light," by Sir Isaac Newton, 4th ed., 1730

Data played a hand of poker against holographic representations of "three of history's greatest minds" in the 1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Descent."  Sir Isaac Newton's works include Opticks: or a Treatise on Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours of Light.

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Ford Motor Company Executive Ernest G. Liebold with Albert Einstein, 1941

Data's poker game with "three of history's greatest minds" also includes a holographic representation of Albert Einstein.  Ford Motor Company executive E.G. Liebold posed for this photograph with the real Albert Einstein in 1941.

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Amelia Earhart Speaking at the Elks Air Circus, July 11, 1929

Amelia Earhart's mysterious fate has figured into the plots of TV shows ranging from Night Gallery to The Love BoatStar Trek: Voyager featured Earhart in the 1995 episode "The 37's," explaining her 1937 disappearance as—what else—an alien abduction. (Thanks to Curator of Transportation and fellow Trekkie Matt Anderson for this contribution!)

Jim Orr is Image Services Specialist at The Henry Ford and has seen all 732 episodes (and counting) of every series of Star Trek.

Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds

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