Business and Management
Submitted By kedar6903
A History of the Ford Motor Company Archives,
With Reflections on Archival Documentation of
Ford of Europe's History
Elizabeth W. Adkins, Certified Archivist
Director, Global Information Management
Ford Motor Company
Introduction: The Ford Motor Company Archives and the Story of the Company
The history of the Ford Motor Company Archives is intertwined with the efforts to tell the story of the company. Both of these initiatives – the creation of the Archives and the telling of the Ford Motor Company story – began with the approach of the fiftieth anniversary. Company executives and the Ford family realized the importance of Henry Ford and his company in the development and progress of the twentieth century. They accepted the obligation to gather and organize the company's historical legacy to ensure that the broader story could be told.
As a result, the first fifty years of the company (including its early international expansion) are fairly well documented and accessible to the public in research materials and in books. The historical record of the next fifty years, including the company's modernization and further international development under Henry Ford II, is less complete.
By the early 1960s, for various reasons, the Ford Archives began to experience the "down side" of the up and down cycle that characterizes the history of American corporate archives. Most of the Ford archival holdings were donated to a nonprofit educational institution, Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village (now known as The Henry Ford).
The remaining holdings stayed at Ford. For more than thirty years, the renamed Ford Industrial Archives maintained a low profile within the company and within the research community, overseen by a single employee. Very few historical records were culled from the company's business records and sent to the museum during…...