The Collections

What the Dickens? Discovering Sir John Bennett’s Famous Customer

 Portrait of Charles Dickens, 1867 (Object ID: 00.3.3723).

Portrait of Charles Dickens, 1867 (Object ID: 00.3.3723).

Sir John Bennett Jewelry Store in Greenfield Village. The building was reconfigured from five-stories to two, to better scale the building with others in Greenfield Village (Object ID: 31.61.1).

Sir John Bennett Jewelry Store in Greenfield Village. The building was reconfigured from five-stories to two, to better scale the building with others in Greenfield Village (Object ID: 31.61.1).

Many people are familiar with the numerous literary connections at Greenfield Village: poet Robert Frost, lexicographer Noah Webster, and textbook author William Holmes McGuffey. But a little known literary relationship is that between Sir John Bennett, a clock and watchmaker and jeweler–whose storefront was moved from London, England to Greenfield Village in 1931–and one of his most prestigious customers, author Charles Dickens. Continue reading

Report from the 2014 Concours d’Elegance of America

The Henry Ford's 1929 Packard 626 Speedster at the Concours d'Elegance of America.

The Henry Ford’s 1929 Packard 626 Speedster at the Concours d’Elegance of America.

The Henry Ford is privileged to participate in a number of concours auto shows each year, but I have a particular soft spot for our “hometown” event: the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s, held each July in Plymouth, Michigan. This past Sunday marked the show’s 36th year. With more than 250 cars in attendance, it’s clearly as strong as ever.

Among the featured automobiles this year was a class entitled, “The Evolution of the Sports Car, 1900-1975.” Our 1929 Packard 626 Speedster, a trim eight-cylinder roadster capable of 100 miles per hour, fit quite nicely alongside racy models from Alpha Romeo, Ferrari, Jaguar and Porsche, together with less exotic – but no less exciting – cars from Chevrolet, Ford, Nash and Studebaker. Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Rosa Parks Bus Restoration

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You might have heard that we are partnering with Litton Entertainment to create a brand-new TV show, The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, premiering on CBS later this year. As we worked with Litton to develop story ideas that might be featured on the show, we also wanted to make sure we digitized a variety of artifacts from our collections related to those stories.  To that end, we’ve just digitized a couple dozen photos of the Rosa Parks Bus before and during its 2002 restoration. As former curator Bill Pretzer relates online, the bus had been left in a field and used as a storehouse for decades, leading to the significant condition issues that you can see in this photo of the driver’s seat. See more newly digitized photos of the restoration process by visiting our collections website, and learn more on Innovation Nation this fall!

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

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Armington & Sims Machine Shop Photography

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When you enter Armington & Sims Machine Shop in Greenfield Village, you feel like you are entering a truly historic building. However, as intern Molly Malcom notes, A&S is a building that was constructed onsite between 1928 and 1930 in honor of Pardon Armington and Gardiner Sims, who built steam engines for Thomas Edison in the Rhode Island factory A&S was modeled after. The authentic feel comes from original records, equipment, furniture, and parts that were acquired from a former A&S employee and now populate the building. As part of an ongoing project, we have digitized some of our images of the original facility, including this interior shot, and related people. View these photos and other collections related to Armington & Sims on our collections website.

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

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: More From Dave Friedman

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The Dave Friedman collection at The Henry Ford is a massive collection of automobile racing–related images. About 4,300 of these are now available on our digital collections website. The latest additions are photos documenting Ford drag racing in the early 60s, including this image from the 1966 NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Nationals. Digital Processing Archivist and racing fan Brian Wilson notes that this particular image shows the “Brand Ford Special fielded by Lou Baney and driven by legendary Tom McEwen.” Visit our collection website to view more images from the 1966 NHRA Nationals, as well as images from the 1963 NHRA Winter Nationals, the 1965 Bristol Dragway, and the 1967 Riverside Drag Races. Or, browse through all of the Dave Friedman images in our online collections.

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

Our First Television Programs at The Henry Ford

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A publicity photograph from August 1955 features Marion Corwell, the museum’s Manager of Educational Television, holding a handmade giraffe, ready to take her school-student audience on a voyage of discovery to children’s toys from 100 years earlier. (THF114821)

Imagine a time when having one television set in your home was a big deal, you saw the programs in black and white, color television was brand new, and you’d never heard of TVs in the classroom.

This was the mid-1950s and The Henry Ford (then called Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village) began using the technology of television to reach into the classroom. It was a way to further our educational mission by assisting social studies teachers and sparking students’ interest in the past. Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Edsel Ford’s Childhood Artwork

Edsel Ford's Childhood Artwork

It should come as no surprise, given the founder of this institution, that our digital collections already contain hundreds of items related to Henry Ford’s son, Edsel. We’ve just expanded this selection by digitizing some of Edsel’s childhood artwork. My personal favorite is this bear, made of brown thread stitched into paper and likely created when Edsel was between 5 and 10 years old, but other pieces include family portraits, highly geometric works, and slightly later, more sophisticated works. View these and other items related to Edsel Ford in our online collections.

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

Remembering a Patriot

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It’s the 4th of July and what’s on my mind isn’t just picnics and fireworks. What I’m thinking about is a young man from long ago named William Hood, who gave service during the American Revolution. William Hood was my fourth great grandfather and –

A patriot.

When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, William Hood was just about 18 years old. He was stationed near the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. This was an area where there had been repeated attacks by the British and their Native American allies. Continue reading

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