Engines Exposed: 1956 Chrysler 300-B Stock Car

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1956 Chrysler 300-B Stock Car
V-8 cylinder engine, overhead valves, 354 cubic inches displacement, 355 horsepower.

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They didn’t call the Chrysler 300 letter series luxury cars “bankers’ hot rods” for nothing. The 1956 300-B’s big V-8 achieved that holy grail of one horsepower per cubic inch. The cars dominated NASCAR, where rules still restricted teams to stock power. Note the cutout in the right wheel well and the nearby spotlight. These modifications allowed the driver to check tire wear through a hole in the firewall.

Matt Anderson is the Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford. See this engine and many others during Engines Exposed at Henry Ford Museum.

Ford’s Model T: A Car for the Great Multitude

This 1910 brochure depicted Henry Ford’s dream—a car in which “the great multitude” could spend" hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces." (ID.G32015)

This 1910 brochure depicted Henry Ford’s dream—a car in which “the great multitude” could spend” hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.” (ID.G32015)

When Ford Motor Company introduced its new Model T automobile on October 1, 1908, the car was the culmination of Henry Ford’s quest to develop an inexpensive, efficient and reliable vehicle that would put automobile ownership within the reach of far more people.

Yet even an inveterate optimist like Henry Ford could not predict the vast success and the far-reaching changes that this rather homely new vehicle would produce. Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Footwear

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The collections of The Henry Ford contain over a thousand examples of footwear of all types: boots, sandals, pumps, slippers, and more.  We’ve just digitized another six dozen or so pairs from our collections, in a variety of styles dating from the early 19th century through 2008.  One set designed for a very specific purpose is these size 5 1/2 “Nymph” bathing shoes, likely dating from the 1920s.  View close to 300 more pairs of shoes and related artifacts by visiting our digital collections!

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

Engines Exposed: 1960 Chevrolet Corvair

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1960 Chevrolet Corvair Sedan
Horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine, overhead valves, 140 cubic inches displacement, 80 horsepower.

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The compact Corvair reimagined the American automobile. Not least among its peculiarities was is rear-mounted, air-cooled aluminum engine. The air cleaner is prominent, with two hoses leading to carburetors mounted on each cylinder bank. Much of the engine is hidden by a metal shroud that directed the air flow around the unit. With its light weight and air cooling, the Corvair power plant proved popular with home airplane builders.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Power and Performance at the 2015 North American International Auto Show

Buick's 2016 Cascada convertible, one of the many new cars vying for attention at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

Buick’s 2016 Cascada convertible, one of the many new cars vying for attention at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has rolled into Detroit to give us our annual look at the technologies and trends shaping the automotive industry. The two words that might sum up the 2015 show best are “power” and “performance.” On the former, nearly every manufacturer features some form of alternative fuel vehicle, while some – I’m looking at you, Tesla – offer nothing but. To the latter point, hot new cars from Cadillac, Ford and others promise old fashioned excitement behind the wheel.

Toyota’s innovative Mirai. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells, its only tailpipe emission is water vapor.

Toyota’s innovative Mirai. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells, its only tailpipe emission is water vapor.

Toyota wasn’t the first automaker to market with a hybrid car, but its Prius went on to define the type. The company hopes to do the same for fuel cell vehicles with its remarkable Mirai sedan. The car is powered by an electric motor, but the electricity itself is generated by a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen that takes place in a fuel cell. The only emission from the car is water vapor. The Mirai is about as green as it gets but, while gas pumps and electrical outlets are a dime a dozen, hydrogen fueling stations are harder to come by outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Clearly, Toyota is betting on that to change. Interestingly, one of Toyota’s NAIAS displays includes a pair of faux hydrogen pumps. Visitors will be surprised and, Toyota must hope, reassured to see that they’re not much different from gasoline pumps. Continue reading

A Different Look At The Artifacts We Digitized In 2014

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about The Henry Ford is that we are “a car museum.” Certainly, automobiles and related material form one of our core strengths, but our collections also cover the entire breadth of American history.  Our ongoing project to digitize our collection and make it available online really demonstrates both sides of this coin: our vast and deep collections covering autos and auto racing, and then the wide breadth of other material documenting the American experience.

In that vein, instead of doing a typical “year in review” post for our digitization efforts in 2014, I played around with our collections database and came up with some interesting facts and figures about the portions of our collection that we digitized over the last year.  I hope you’ll agree that the details below reveal the deep strengths of our collections, as well as their breadth—and that they encourage you to spend some time browsing our digital collections as well! Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: TV Show Artifacts

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The first season of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation continues to air Saturdays on CBS, with staff, buildings, and artifacts from The Henry Ford showcased in every episode. For each and every segment set on our campus, our staff are working hard behind the scenes to provide additional context about the artifacts and stories covered. For example, this week, we’ve just digitized a collection of artifacts related to an upcoming episode that will feature some of the locomotives within Henry Ford Museum. This photo of Henry Ford riding shotgun on a locomotive at the Rouge is a reminder how vital these massive machines were, both to the auto industry and to the American economy in general. Keep watching Innovation Nation to catch this episode—but in the meantime, visit our collections website to browse more artifacts related to locomotives, or dig deeper into topics covered previously on the TV show by visiting our episode pages, each featuring staff-curated links to more information and different perspectives.

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

Noah Webster’s Other Best Seller!

Many of us know that Noah Webster was the creator of An American Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1828. But did you know that Mr. Webster was a teacher as well, and the author of the American Spelling Book? The early version was first published in 1783 and our copy is a 1845 edition called the Elementary Spelling Book, being an improvement on the American Spelling Book.

During this time, the English language was changing fast, and many new words were being added that were uniquely American. Mr. Webster wanted to create a spelling book that could help people understand and spell words that were actively used by the American public. Always published with a blue cover, the “Blue Backed Speller,” as it came to be known, was popular across the nation. Continue reading

Searching for America’s Most Innovative Teachers

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Just as The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation television show seeks out the stories of forward-looking visionaries and innovators each week, we are also searching for America’s most innovative teachers who inspire innovation, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking among their students. The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation Teacher Innovator Awards will recognize teachers who are taking it forward by applying innovative teaching methods inside their classrooms.

We are looking for teachers who showcase an original and creative approach to teaching, exhibit resourcefulness, engage students, and are making a positive impact on not only their classroom but their community, colleagues, administrators, school, and/or district. Twenty teachers in total will receive prizes, with the top ten first place winners receiving a week-long “Innovation Immersion Experience” at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. The top ten winners will also receive recognition on The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation television show. Winners will be announced in May.

Nominate yourself or a teacher you know by completing the online submission form (click on the “nominate” button). Be sure to include supporting materials that show an innovative teaching methodology, curriculum, and/or model in action. All entries must be submitted by the February 6, 2015 deadline.

Please be sure to read our official rules carefully before nominating. For more details about the awards or the television show please visit our website.

We look forward to learning how teachers across the country are innovating in their classrooms!

Phil Grumm is Curator of Digital Learning at The Henry Ford.

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Ford’s Dearborn Engineering Lab

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If you’ve ever pulled into the parking lot of Henry Ford Museum from Oakwood Boulevard and looked to your left, you might have wondered what the large building behind the museum is. It has had several names and purposes over the years, but originally housed a new Experimental Department of Ford Motor Company. Designed by Albert Kahn, this engineering building also contained personal offices for Henry and Edsel Ford and a dance hall for Henry’s old-time dances. We’ve just digitized about 100 images of the construction of the building in 1923–24, as well as some later work; this panoramic image shows the state of affairs early on in the construction process. To see more of the construction images and other artifacts relating to the building, visit our collections website.

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

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