Ford History and its Link to the Future

Tori Tellem

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The ancestry of the role Ford has played in automotive history is now stored safely within the Ford Archives in Dearborn, Michigan, home to millions of images, documents and film footage of Ford throughout the years.


“The history of the Ford Motor Company is much richer than just the story of a car company,” said Dean Weber, Manager, Ford Archives. “You see via the ads or the PR photography changing fashions, changing styles, different representations of members of the family.” That’s what makes the Ford Archives so special – they aren’t just about Ford history; they contain time capsules of life at any given time in history.


“We have over six miles of shelving at the archives,” Dean noted. And materials include documents about the introduction of the assembly line in 1914 and of the $5 workday. The Ford Archives also hold materials documenting historical milestones, such as the shift to women in business, and with that, the ads for the Model T marketed toward women. “We had a woman at her work desk on the phone with her Ford car visible out the window, and it's from 90 years ago,” Dean said. There are also materials about the Ford Aircraft Division, the “automotive plow” (that would be the tractor), motorsports, factories, events, press releases, product development news items and much more.


The Ford Archives also hold inspiration for current and future Ford projects. For example, photos of the 1932 V8 engine and its backstory as the first commercially successful V8 engine have been inspiring new generations of engineers, and the annals show a direct lineage to Henry Ford’s original goal of making technology available to the masses.


Today, that can be seen in the EcoBoost® engine. “When you share the story with somebody who's a powertrain engineer…it helps foster this feeling that there's a tradition to live up to,” Dean explained. “There's a tradition that you are a part of, and that what you do really does matter.”


The Ford Archives materials are continuously being digitized and the company’s stories told on social media. “We find that people have a hunger for it. Our history is also their history,” Dean said. “The Ford heritage helps us show our own team that innovation has been key to our success.”


What’s your favorite piece of Ford history?


Ford Archives
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