The Collections

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Apple 1

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There are only 64 known Apple 1 computers in the world, and only about a quarter of these are operational.  One of the latter is now in the collections, both digital and physical, of The Henry Ford.  It is not only significant in the early history of one of the most well-known technology companies in the modern world, but also speaks to human-computer interaction, design, and miniaturization of technology.  As Curator of Communication & Information Technology Kristen Gallerneaux notes in an upcoming post on our blog: “The acquisition of an Apple 1 represents The Henry Ford’s commitment to documenting the material nature of technology. It is an observable artifact with visual appeal. It has a clear sense of purpose and an honesty expressed through its exposure of internal workings. It could even be considered as a piece of ‘electronic folk art.’”  We are very excited to have this incredibly significant artifact in our collections.  Visit our collections website to view multiple images of the Apple 1, along with photos documenting its arrival and unpacking at The Henry Ford, or to browse all of our digitized collections relating to computers, and check back soon for Kristen’s blog post to learn more about the history and significance of this artifact.

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

The Center of Attention:  Epergnes and Centerpieces in American Entertaining

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During the Holiday Nights program in Greenfield Village, we strive to recreate authentic interiors and seasonal celebrations of the American past.  With the holidays rapidly approaching we are setting our dining tables for Christmas and New Year’s Eve and think it is a good time to examine the evolution of festive table settings in times past. Of course, the focus of table decoration is the centerpiece and these have a long and interesting history. Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Classical Violins

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mcaca_logo_finalThe classical violins in the collections of The Henry Ford get around.  In 2011 and 2013, we had them CT scanned at Henry Ford Health System; in February 2013, Sphinx Laureate Gareth Johnson played one at the National Day of Courage; and in October 2014, they were featured on Episode 5 of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. Now, thanks to a generous grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, they are moving out of collections storage and into the Henry Ford Museum, in a display that is planned to go live by February 1, 2015.  The violins themselves will be accompanied by a digital kiosk, where visitors will be able to explore additional related artifacts from our online collections. One example of these related artifacts that we’ve just added to our digital collections is the “Badger Gavotte” sheet music for Henry Ford’s Early American Dance Orchestra. Visit our collections website to view other objects related to the Orchestra, dance, and the violins themselves, and plan to visit us next year to see the new exhibit.

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

Genealogy of a Classic: Finding the History of Your Mustang

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Process Photograph for 1965 Ford Mustang Advertising (Object ID: 68.300.1031.9).

The Mustang, America’s original pony car, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  When the first generation Mustangs were being built, no one anticipated that they would become American classics and popular vehicles for restoration.

We have many cool pieces of Mustang history here at The Henry Ford, from… Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Pixar Image Computer II

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In October, we announced that The Henry Ford has acquired a functioning Apple-1, a major milestone in the history of computing.  However, in September, we acquired another significant computer, and we’ve just added it to our collections website.  When Pixar began as a department within Lucasfilm in 1979, it started developing its own computer system to support graphics and visualization.  The Pixar Imaging Computer became commercially available in 1986, and was adopted by other organizations with intensive graphic arts and animation needs, such as the Walt Disney Company and the United States Departments of Defense and Forestry.  Curator of Communication & Information Technology Kristen Gallerneaux notes about the P-II: “One of our goals at The Henry Ford is to document computing as applied to creative and expressive activities. The Pixar Image Computer II (P-II) is of particular interest not only as a graphics rendering tool … but also as a hugely significant element in the thread that connects the Apple-1 computer to the finely designed and engineered computing devices we all carry with us every day.”  See the P-II, as well as the rest of our digital collections related to computers, on our collections website.

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

Before Meets After: Conserving Our Grecian Couch

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Our graceful Grecian couch is about 200 years old and is believed to have been made in the workshop of Duncan Phyfe in New York City. In its time, this couch was considered the best piece of upholstered furniture in a well-appointed parlor of a sophisticated New Yorker. Although these couches seem to be designed for reclining, they were not intended for repose. They were used by fashionable ladies and gentlemen, who sat in a rigid, upright position. Today, we would find sitting on this couch very uncomfortable.

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It is amazing that such a specialized piece survived intact into the early 20th century, when it was acquired by The Henry Ford. This is perhaps due to the flamboyant design of the back and foot rests, which makes it an exceptionally elegant, almost sculptural, piece of furniture. The couch was last reupholstered in 1954 by Ernest LoNano, a well-known furniture restorer of the time. Since then, the upholstery had become quite dirty and worn. Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Ford Rouge Factory Tour Vehicles

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You might have heard that there are big changes afoot at the Ford Rouge Center: production has recently started on the all-new 2015 F-150, featuring an aluminum-alloy body and bed. As part of this change, we’ve been enhancing the Ford Rouge Factory Tour experience, and we’ve also taken advantage of the production line’s downtime to digitize the vehicles you’ll see in the Legacy Gallery.  You can now check out glamour shots of the 1929 Ford Model A Roadster, the 1932 Ford V-8 Victoria, the 1949 Ford V-8 Club Coupe, the 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible, and, last but not least, the 1956 Ford Thunderbird Convertible shown here—all part of the legacy of the Rouge.  Visit our collections website to see these vehicles, as well as much more material related to the history of the Rouge.

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

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Eagle Tavern Images

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We’re continuing with the project we started this summer, digitizing materials related to our historic buildings in Greenfield Village. This week, we’ve added images of Eagle Tavern. Today, Eagle Tavern is a great place to have a historically authentic meal or beverage (either temperance or non-temperance). However, when Henry Ford acquired it in 1927 from its original location in Clinton, Michigan, the building was in a state of deep disrepair. This sheet shows this poor condition from a couple of different angles. Visit our collections website to view nearly 100 artifacts depicting or related to Eagle Tavern.

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

Hanukkah: Festival of Lights

American society became more child-centered as the birthrate climbed after World War II. Like other aspects of American life during this “baby boom” era, Jewish ritual observances in the home became more child-focused, as reflected in this 1953 publication. (Object ID.2005.29.32) (Gift of Judith E. Endelman and William D. Epstein in memory of Miriam Ruth Epstein)

American society became more child-centered as the birthrate climbed after World War II. Like other aspects of American life during this “baby boom” era, Jewish ritual observances in the home became more child-focused, as reflected in this 1953 publication. (Object ID.2005.29.32) (Gift of Judith E. Endelman and William D. Epstein in memory of Miriam Ruth Epstein)

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the few and the weak over the mighty and the strong.  Legends and stories surround the holiday’s origins, whose name means “dedication” in Hebrew.

For centuries, Hanukkah was a modest occasion, a minor holiday. Jewish law and custom only required the lighting of candles for eight nights, with one candle to be used as the shamash (“guard” or “servant” in Hebrew) to light the others. The lighted candles were to be kept by a window where they could be seen by passers-by. In Eastern Europe, the celebration included eating latkes (potato pancakes), distributing small amounts of Hanukkah gelt (coins) to children, playing games with a dreidel (a spinning top), and playing cards. Continue reading

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