Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

My name may be the only one on the cover (well, except for Henry Ford’s) but scores of people contributed to this project. I do my best to list them here, knowing that I likely forgot a few and hoping that those few will forgive me.
For guidance and support in the early stages of this project, I thank Steven Hoelscher at the University of Texas at Austin, along with Robert Abzug, Janet Davis, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and John Hartigan....

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

Henry Ford’s outdoor history museum, Greenfield Village, opened in Dearborn, Michigan, on a rainy October 21, 1929, just eight days before the stock market crashed and plunged the nation into the Great Depression. Ford scheduled the dedication to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb, and he named the ceremony “Light’s Golden Jubilee.” The connection to Edison was apparent not only in...

Part I. “Goodbye Textbooks, Hello America”: The Ford Years

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1. The Fording of American History

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pp. 17-37

In 1915 Henry Ford began purchasing land along the bottomland of the Rouge River, near the townships where he and his wife, Clara, grew up. By 1926, buildings collectively known as the River Rouge Factory complex covered over one thousand acres. Designed primarily by the renowned architect Albert Kahn, at its height of production the main Rouge Factory employed over a hundred thousand workers, and used vertical integration to massproduce...

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2. A Permanent Pageant of America

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pp. 38-70

In 1927, the year after Henry Ford determined that Greenfield Village would be built on his land in Dearborn, he began dedicating his energies to its design. One of his intentions was to venerate Thomas Edison, the kind of man Ford felt was ignored in traditional histories. Ford planned to celebrate his friend and mentor by restoring and transplanting Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory— where between 1876 and 1886 Edison invented the telephone transmitter,...

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3. The Public’s Village

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pp. 71-96

Henry Ford hoped that Greenfield Village would serve not only as a veneration of pasts he deemed valuable but also as a proposal for how Americans should live in a modern age. Despite Ford’s efforts to send specific messages, however, visitors’ experiences spanned a broad spectrum. Diverse encounters with the village were related, in large part, to the wide range of visitors who arrived between the village’s launch in 1929 and Ford’s death in 1947. Shortly...

Part II. Dearborn, Not Detroit: Greenfield Village after Ford

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4. Searching for an Identity

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pp. 99-122

Between 1926 and 1945, Henry Ford was clearly the most important person in the life of Greenfield Village. He chose the buildings and their locations, monitored the schools, and decided when the site was ready for public viewing— indeed, Ford controlled the village. When his health began to decline in 1945, Clara tried to maintain her husband’s version of the village, an effort she would continue in the years after his death. Consulting primarily with Ray...

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5. Visitors Respond

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pp. 123-142

In 1954, two months after Donald A. Shelley took over as president, the Henry Ford Museum conducted a visitor survey. Between August 18 and August 26, staff distributed survey forms in the museum’s lobby; respondents were asked to complete the forms and return them by mail. By late October, 594, or roughly 20 percent, of the approximately 3,000 surveys distributed were returned. The survey asked visitors what they liked best and least, and...

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6. The New History at an Old Village

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pp. 143-168

In 1980, Larry Lankton, who had curated the Henry Ford Museum’s power and shop machinery collection from 1972 to 1974, published “Something Old, Something New: The Reexhibition of the Henry Ford Museum’s Hall of Technology” in the journal Technology and Culture. Lankton was deeply critical of the new exhibit. He described the renovation, which cost $2.4 million and took five years to plan and construct, as “exhausting” and “ultimately...

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7. From History Museum to History Attraction

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pp. 169-182

In 1996, Harold K. Skramstad ended his fifteen years at the helm of Greenfield Village. “I have always felt that CEOs tend to stay too long,” he remarked at the time. “It’s time to turn over leadership to the next generation.” He noted that during his tenure he had improved the museum’s financial condition and taken it from a traditional museum to one “that can truly inspire people.” Skramstad would go on to become an influential national voice in the...

Notes

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pp. 183-206

Index

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pp. 207-216

About the Author

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pp. 217-219

Back Cover

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