Ford archives, museum to make more Ford history accessible online

(December 15, 2013) DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford is taking pieces from its storied past and moving them into the future. The Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company have teamed up to help share key materials on beginning in 2014.

Henry Ford and his wife Clara were essentially amateur archivists — meticulously collecting the artifacts from their lives. This tradition continues today at Ford Motor Company archives, which house the company’s unique history and are not open to the public.

True to Henry’s vision, the museum and the company archives tell Ford Motor Company’s story through thousands of cubic feet of photographs, films, documents, advertisements, press materials, product brochures and more. Most of these treasures, until now, could be seen only by a lucky few, and it had to be in person.

“New technologies allow museums today to share their artifacts in new ways both onsite and online,” said Marilyn Zoidis, director of historical resources for The Henry Ford. “At The Henry Ford, we are committed to digitizing our unique collections for the world to access, and the assistance we receive from collaborating with Ford’s archives furthers our efforts to share these important pieces of history like never before.”

The ongoing initiative will focus on digitizing key assets from collections such as The Henry Ford Office Papers – documents that passed over Ford’s desk for nearly half a century. The need for going digital is clear, as just this single collection fills more than 1,600 cubic feet.

“This project helps The Henry Ford make our shared history available to more people,” said Dean Weber, manager, Ford archives and AV assets. “It helps bring Ford’s story to life for a whole new audience through social media.”

Selections from the following will be digitized:

    • Letter signed by Henry Ford when he handed leadership of the company to his grandson Henry Ford II
    • 450 rolls of film from the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair
    • Ford Mustang heritage photography
    • Countless historic Ford and Lincoln advertising images

The Benson Ford Research Center, part of The Henry Ford, currently houses more than 14 million documents from Ford Motor Company. This project will enable The Henry Ford to devote more resources to making documents available to digital outlets. The digital assets will then serve the dual purpose of helping Ford connect with consumers and helping researchers worldwide access materials through the museum’s website.