Saturday, March 29, 2014


Because I live in Michigan, I have the good fortune to be able to visit the Henry Ford complex in Dearborn ( whenever the urge strikes. However, anyone can view its online collections at And, no, it is not all about cars. There is much, much more.

You can browse the “expert sets,” such as:

You can also enter a keyword and search the collection. Want to envision the kitchen of your ancestors? Search for “kitchen” and see photographs of aqua-colored stoves from the 1950s, pie safes and more.

Here are some of the fascinating items I found:

There are also many historical resources available on the Benson Ford Research Center page:

If you go to the Research Library page, you can search the collection. Under the Artifact Collection, I found Digital Dress: Henry Ford Historical Costume Collection. I searched within this collection for “1810” and found photographs and information about typical clothing worn by people in that time period.  There are other costume collections at partner institutions that can also be searched.

So, you have found some ancestors who lived in the 1800s. Create a vision of the world of the children by viewing toys they played with. See:

Do you want to know what kind of vehicle an ancestor may have driven? Check out

There are hundreds of historic photographs and images on the Henry Ford website. On the Detroit Publishing Company page, I found links to photographs of Cityscapes, Everyday Life, Foreign Views, Getting Around, Michigan Views, Nature and Workplaces. I especially liked the Workplaces section because it showed various occupations across the country such as logging in Michigan, railroad workers in New York, fishermen in Louisiana, fruit growers and packers in California and cotton gin workers in Mississippi.

There is also a very informative page entitled “Caring for your Artifacts” ( Here you will find Preservation Fact Sheets to help you protect your historical items.

Learning about our ancestors is more than collecting names and dates. Discover the world they lived in—their clothing, occupations, toys, furniture, jewelry, vehicles and more. The Henry Ford Online Collection can help you paint a picture that will flesh out your ancestors and make them truly feel like family.


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Victorian Goods and Merchandise," 2006.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "East Meet West Art Deco Motifs, 2010.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Full-Color Old-Time Vignettes," 2002.

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