Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Henry Carter Johnson Glass Figures

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Henry Carter Johnson (1908–96) created tiny glass animals and other figures in western Michigan, on and off from the 1950s through the 1990s. His business was officially called “Fine Miniatures in Glass,” but many of his young fans, who could watch him shape the glass into his creations, knew it better as “The Glass Menagerie.” If you’ve looked in the cases that line the Promenade of the Henry Ford Museum, you’ve seen some of this collection, but we’ve just digitized close to 140 of these unique and charming figurines, such as the crane shown here. If you’d like to browse the whole menagerie, including (among many others!) fish, walruses, bears, mice, and rabbits, visit our digital collections.

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

Engines Exposed: 1978 Dodge Omni

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1978 Dodge Omni
Inline 4-cylinder engine, overhead valves, 105 cubic inches displacement, 75 horsepower.

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Small cars pack a lot into tight spaces. The Omni makes the most of its engine bay by mounting the unit transversely, with the crankshaft parallel to the front bumper. It’s a layout not widely used in American cars since the early 1900s, but particularly well-suited to compact front-wheel drive vehicles. Power is sent to the Omni’s front wheels via the transaxle, a combination gearbox-differential, on the driver’s side.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

IMLS funded project Update: Cadmium in Collections

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The IMLS (The Institute for Museum & Library Services) Project team is plugging along, cataloging, conserving, and rehousing artifacts from our collections storage building, as we mentioned in our blog a few months ago. Thus far we have worked on radios, phonographs, computers, adding machines, and their components. We have found some interesting objects in our collection, like this Motorola Radiophone, pictured above, ca 1950.

While conserving these objects from our storage facility, we are discovering cadmium corrosion on many objects, including the Radiophone. Cadmium is a bluish gray metal and was first used as a pigment (cadmium yellow, red, and orange) in paint, plastics, and glass. It was also used as a stabilizer in plastics, a component in batteries, and as a plating to prevent corrosion. Even though it is used to prevent corrosion of an underlying metal such as steel or aluminum a cadmium coating will corrode in the presence of organic acids, sulfur compounds, and atmospheric pollutants. Organic acids and sulfur compounds are emitted as a result of the deterioration of many materials from which objects in our collections are made, such as rubber, wood and the plastic cases of radios and phonographs. Cadmium corrosion products can range from brown to bright yellow. In our case, we are often finding plates, screws, brackets, and other plated metal components coated in bright yellow powdery cadmium sulfide corrosion.  Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Logan County Courthouse Artifacts

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If you watched Episode 10 of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, you may have learned a bit about the Logan County Courthouse, where a young Abraham Lincoln practiced law. Though the building now resides in Greenfield Village, we’ve just digitized about 70 images of the interior and exterior of the Courthouse on its original site, as well as related people, including this group posed outside the building. Visit our collections website to see all our digitized collections related to the Logan County Courthouse.

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

The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation: Presidential Limousines

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On this week’s episode of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation you’ll learn about presidential limousines. Want to learn even more? Take a look below.

Read
Kennedy Presidential Limousine
John F. Kennedy’s Enduring Legacy
John F. Kennedy: New Collections, New Stories
JFK Remembered: The X-100
Looking Back: JFK Remembered at Henry Ford Museum
The Henry Ford at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
The Car Guy’s Ultimate Beach Party
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Hail to the Chief: Henry Ford’s Activities with POTUS

Watch
JFK Remembered at Henry Ford Museum

Look
JFK Remembered: Assassination
JFK Remembered: The Quick Fix
JFK Remembered: X-100 Under Construction
JFK Remembered: X100 During Kennedy Administration
JFK Remembered: X-100 After Kennedy Administration

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed: 1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale Convertible

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1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale
Inline 8-cylinder engine, single overhead camshaft, 779 cubic inches displacement, 300 horsepower.

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From its length, one might expect more than 8 cylinders under the Bugatti’s hood. But each of those cylinders displaces more than the whole of a Volkswagen Beetle’s power plant. Four air cleaners stand over the engine, fitted to the four carburetors installed by Charles Chayne after World War II. Two spark plugs protrude from each cylinder. The steering box sits just behind the right fender, in keeping with the car’s right-hand drive layout.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Sleuthing of The Musical Kind

Harry Tuttle’s dulcimer.  Details of its construction tell us that this beautiful instrument was likely made in New York about 1860.

Harry Tuttle’s dulcimer.  Details of its construction tell us that this beautiful instrument was likely made in New York about 1860.

Visitors to The Henry Ford often marvel at the number and variety of historical objects found here.  Often, so does the staff.  As a presenter in Greenfield Village, I have been surrounded by these rich collections–many of the objects having been gathered during the 1920s and 1930s, when Henry Ford was avidly collecting for his museum.  An internship opportunity over the winter has given me a chance to further explore how a number of these objects—musical instruments–came to be part of The Henry Ford’s collections.  As a violinist, the topic of music was a perfect match for me.

Christina Linsenmeyer, a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of The Arts, Helsinki, is editing a book entitled, Themes and Trends of the Musical Instrument Collecting Boom, 1860-1940.  As an avid collector of musical instruments during the early decades of the 20th century, Henry Ford is a perfect fit.  Jeanine Head Miller, The Henry Ford’s curator of domestic life, and Robert E. Eliason, curator of musical instruments at The Henry Ford during the 1970s and 1980s, will be co-authoring a chapter of the book discussing Henry Ford’s musical instrument collecting.

Henry Ford grew up dancing to the lively music of country fiddlers—and even learned to play the fiddle a bit himself.  Ford’s interest in traditional American music and in musical instruments, then, was personal one.  Ford’s efforts built an impressive collection—instruments which tell the story of music made by town bands, fiddlers at country dances, wealthy people in music rooms, and everyday Americans who purchased mass-produced instruments from local stores or mail-order catalogs.   Continue reading

A Pillow Of Rest For a Man That Serves The World Best…

Painting on Turtle Shell, Presented to Henry Ford, 1933.

Painting on Turtle Shell, Presented to Henry Ford, 1933.

Housed at The Henry Ford amidst many large and significant acquisitions is a small collection of quirky and one-of-a-kind items. Located mostly in storage, this group of artifacts is unofficially known as the Henry Ford Tributes. The objects range in size, materials and creation methods, but all have one thing in common – they were gifts given as tokens of gratitude and appreciation to a single man whose innovative ideas changed the lives of so many. Corporations, farm wives, Ford dealers, immigrants and civic institutions were all contributors to this eclectic group of gifts and commendations.

This collection has never been considered for a museum exhibit, but thanks to The Henry Ford’s digitization initiative, we were given the opportunity to highlight just a few in this unusual collection. For members of the Historical Resources team, this was a long-sought-after opportunity; many of us have our ‘favorites’, and as the project began in earnest, the suggestions came in at a rapid rate. It was hard to keep the online exhibit to just 76 objects! Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Henry Ford Gifts

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Henry Ford is sometimes referred to as a “folk hero”: he was such a prominent figure in public life during his day, and had such a significant impact on the entire world, that many people felt compelled to send him gifts to show their appreciation. Some of these are machine-made items, but many were laboriously hand-created.  We’ve just digitized some staff favorite tributes to Henry from our collection, including this 1935 diorama created in a gallon jug and featuring Henry Ford, Ford V-8 automobiles, young women, flags, flowers, and cotton chicks.  Check our blog later this week for a post from Collections Specialist Patrice Fisher highlighting more of these honorifics, or if you can’t wait, you can check out sets on our collections website related to love of Ford automobiles, likenesses of Henry Ford, and awards and trophies—or view all 70+ items.

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

The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation: Model T

On this week’s episode of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation you’ll learn about Henry Ford’s Model T. Want to learn even more? Take a look below.

Watch
Ford Model T Footage (1925)
Ford Model T Assembly Line (1919)
Model T Ride at The Henry Ford

Look
Henry Ford: Model T 
Henry Ford: $5 Day 

Exploded Model T

Read
Ford Methods and the Ford Shops

Learn
Henry’s Assembly Line

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

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