DEARBORN - This week Ford Motor Company celebrated the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford’s birth with various events all over the world. At World headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., employees listened as Executive Chairman Bill Ford shared family stories about his great-grandfather. A number of Henry’s belongings were brought over from the Henry Ford Museum to help those in attendance get a sense of his presence.
Marilyn Zoidis, director of Historical Resources for the Henry Ford museum, explained some of the items including a few of Henry’s “jot books,” which were tiny notebooks he used to write down things he wanted to remember. Zoidis said the museum archive has several boxes full of Henry’s jot books.
Another favorite was the Cartier pocket watch with attached locket. The locket featured a picture of Henry and his wife Clara as well as photos of his son Edsel with his wife Eleanor and their children.
While these items are interesting to all history buffs, they are one-of-a-kind personal items the Henry Ford museum cares for rather than being collectables. For collectors who appreciate the life and accomplishments of Henry Ford, books featuring his thoughts and words of wisdom are often an easy and affordable way to own a little piece of his legacy and celebrate his history.
We pulled a few of our favorites titles off the Archives shelves for a quick look including:
My Life and Work, by Henry Ford in collaboration with Samuel Crowther, 1923
Today and Tommorow, by Henry Ford in collaboration with Samuel Crowther, 1926
My Philosophy of Industry, by Henry Ford, 1929
Henry Ford His Life, His Work, His Genius, by William Adams Simonds, 1943
Each page taps into Henry Ford’s psyche and delivers insight into what was on his mind. Take this excerpt from My Philosophy of Industry for example, “With our new forms of transportation and communication the whole outlook of man is changed. It is greatly enlarged. He travels more, sees more, comes in contact with more things. But there is a question in my mind whether, with all of this speeding up of our everyday activities, there is any more real thinking.”
An interesting thought considering this was written around 1929 but could very easily be relating to all the communication technologies we use today such as cell phones, texting, Facebook and twitter.
The importance of thinking, coming up with ideas and acting upon those ideas to effect a positive change in something is a common thread in nearly all of these books.
In Today and Tomorrow the very first page begins Henry’s plea for the importance of seeing an idea through as he explains how a small group of men employed in a shop in the early 1900s brought his idea to build a “…small, strong, simple automobile” to fruition. The Ford automobile was significant for many reasons but Henry goes on to say that by 1926 Ford Motor Company had sold its 13 millionth car and employed more than 600,000 people either directly or indirectly through supply chains and dealerships. Henry further illustrated the enormity of his ideas’ impact by writing, “…which means that about three million men, women and children get their livings out of a single idea put into effect only eighteen years ago.”
Quotes like this are bountiful in any of the titles we’ve listed above. Could one of them be tucked away on your bookshelf? If so, dust one off and give it a read, Henry might just appear ready to accept birthday salutations – in your minds’ eye at least.
Another book, Ford Methods and the Ford Shops
by Horace Lucien Arnold and Fay Leone Faurote, featured this fold out map of the Highland Park “shop.”