Henry Ford - Grabbing History by the Wheel


Primary Sources

Ford, Henry. My Life and Work. Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing, 1922.

This was our best primary source. Contrary to our first impression, My Life and Work did not focus on Ford’s personal life, but on his business and inventor aspect of life. From this source, we learned about many aspects of Ford’s life we could not have learned from other newspapers or books. We gained a deeper understanding of who Ford as a thinker and inventor was, how he took advantage of the opportunities presented in the 1900s and his view of society. From the new insight into his life, we realized that our thesis was not as compete as we had originally thought. Our thesis before reading his autobiography only stated that Ford was an individual that impacted history, but after reading his personal thoughts on his success, we realized that Ford was an individual who turned the economic changes in the 1900s into unseen prospects that changed the automobile industry for centuries to come. We made changes on the webpage according to our revised thesis, and added a page about the time period’s impact on Ford’s success. The book also showed us how Ford formed the idea of a new kind of car, how he meticulously expanded the business, and even some philosophical arguments on wages and employees. Overall, this primary source was not only accurate, since Ford himself wrote it, but it also helped strengthen our web page.


Ford, Henry. The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem. Dearborn, Michigan: Dearborn Independent, 1922.

This book by Henry Ford sheds light on Ford’s anti-Semitic activities during the 1920s. Although many know Henry Ford as an innovator in American industry, Ford’s often less admirable attributes such as his anti-Semitism are also critical to an understanding of Henry Ford as an individual in history. This source aided us in placing Ford in historical context by showing his views on anti-Semitism and his anti-Semitic activities. The first person perspective that Ford wrote the book in provides us with his exact thoughts, as opposed to other sources that exaggerate his words. Of course, Ford himself was very biased on the topic of religion, but his bias helps us understand the lesser known side of who he was as an individual. By reading this book, we gained a more complete understanding of his beliefs and morals. We realized that no single individual is perfect, and that flaws are what make an individual unique. Ford’s flaws, such as his anti-Semitic beliefs, set him aside from other inventors and innovators, even if they do tarnish his popular view as the “American Hero.” Overall, this source provided a new perspective on the individual that was Henry Ford.


Foster, C. R., and Byron Gay. “The Little Old Ford Rambled Right Along.” Rec. 25 May 1927. M3U. Mad Music Archive.


This is a music recording of “The Little Old Ford Rambled Right Along” was used as background music for our flash introductory video on the home page. We thought this video would demonstrate the time period effectively and it quickly caught the viewer’s attention. Furthermore, the song was an important embodiment of Ford’s innovative spirit in the early twentieth century; Ford intended to build an automobile for the common American, as expressed by this song.


Ford Motors Inc. Model T: The Car and Its Operation. Dearborn, MI: n.p., 1925.

This handbook was greatly useful to our understanding of what Ford actually accomplished. It showed detailed pictures of what the original Model T looked like, and explained the parts thoroughly. Having no previous technical knowledge of cars, this handbook not only explained how the car worked, but it also showed the advantages of a Model T over the typical car at that time period. From the comparisons, we learned exactly why and how Ford became so successful, but more importantly, we saw how he used the demand for light, efficient cars to his advantage, and indeed built a light efficient not to mention inexpensive car. The book even had pictures of advertisements that Ford used to promote his cars. We used one of these pictures on our webpage to demonstrate the effectiveness that Ford used his surrounding and financial changes. This handbook taught us numerous technical aspects of Model Ts and provided reliable pictures that showed the time period.

Henry Ford’s Mirror of America. United States National Archives, 1915-1930. 24 Jan. 2009




This movie clip was not only entertaining but full of factual information. It showed the time period that Ford lived in every accurately, from the war to the economy rising. The pictures, narration, and music all give a well rounded feeling of the time period. The video also helped us better understand how Ford fit into the economy with actual footage of Ford accepting an offer and clear narration of what Ford was doing and how his assembly line was innovative and hugely successful. The most valuable information gained from footage of Ford’s factory at work. We could clearly see how his original assembly line has remained basically unchanged, and how even then, Ford’s assembly line already had a profound impact on important factors such as war. This sequence of videos on industrial progress in America from 1915 to 1930 was very useful in making our introductory video on the home page. It also gave us important insight into how Henry Ford revolutionized industry and big business in America. For instance, the clips included Ford’s employees working at his famous Highland plant and Ford Motor Company manufacturing war machinery during both World Wars. The clips gave us a comprehensive overview of Henry Ford’s vital role in the American, and even the world economy. This video specifically shows Ford as an individual who accepts the offer, and the immediate impact of his inventions, as well as a detailed description of the time period.


Iacocca, Lee. “Henry Ford.” Time 100 17 Dec. 1998.

This was a very helpful source. Not only did this source help us clear the confusion by placing Ford into historical context, but it also gave us a clear impression of what society thought of Ford. This was written by Lee Iacocca, who later became the head of Ford Motor Company, and personally met and worked with Ford. Therefore, this was a very accurate and reliable source. We got to know the first impression Ford had on the workers, as well as the more practical side of the Ford Motor Company. The article travels from the beginnings of Ford as a businessman to the end of his life. Coupled with Ford’s personal timeline and a timeline of how the time period was changing, the article gave us a clear idea of how Ford fit, or rather influenced, society. The article was written with an unbiased tone that showed the positive, innovative side of Ford to the later pragmatic and control obsessive close downfall of the Motor Company. Through it all, the article gave details and exact statistics that gave us a better defined view of his impact on history. Overall, this was a very useful and entertaining source.


Lewis, David Lanier. The Public Image of Henry Ford. N.p.: Wayne State University Press, 1976.

This was an excellent primary source. This book was one of the most balanced sources we used. Not only did it highlight the achievements and American innovations of Ford in extensive detail, but it equally revealed the flaws of the “American Hero” that Ford was viewed as in great detail. The title of the book is exactly what the book contained; It showed how the public viewed such a interesting individual who had two completely polar opposites. Although it did not give a clear view of how Ford perceived himself, we certainly learned a lot of new information on the perception of the public, especially the average working American, of Ford. This book also led us to numerous other sources, such as the New York Times articles and other books that usually only focused on one side of Ford. Still, the bibliography of this book was impressive and helpful in locating other useful sources. This was an incredibly helpful source that helped us form an arguable position on our web page by balancing the flaws and achievements of Henry Ford.


Tarshis, Peter. “Biography: Henry Ford - The Tin Lizzy Tycoon. 1999. DVD. History Television Productions.

This documentary gave us a panoramic view of Ford’s many achievements, from the invention of the Model T to the mass production of munitions during both World Wars. The documentary also offered us views from Ford’s former employees as well as Ford’s own grandchildren. Additionally, the documentary offered us insights into Ford’s vision and his motivations for his actions and legacies. It even delved deep into Ford’s personality and allowed us to further elicit information on Ford as a whole individual in history. Collectively, this documentary was useful in our Life page, since it offered valuable insights into Ford’s actions during his life.


Secondary Sources

Casey, Robert H. The Model T: A Centennial History . Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

This was an exceptional source for all facts concerning the Model T, as the title suggests. Published by a university, the facts presented in this book such as the statistics that we used to form our graphs on the Individual in History page were very resourceful and gave us a comprehensive view of how the Model T changed the world. It also told us the compete history of how the automobile was invented, and we used this source to check the facts presented on our Foundations page, such as the invention of the Motorwagon. We also learned a little of the engineering aspects of the Model T, although we didn’t use this information in our web site because we couldn’t entirely understand it. We mostly used this source for statistics, dates, and graphs.


“Henry Ford.” A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries. Public Broadcasting System.8 Feb. 2009


This was one of our very first sources. Using a simple web search, we easily found the PBS homepage and used it to search Henry Ford. This source was brief and to the point. It generalized his life, highlighted his achievements, and noted some of his flaws. This was one of the first sources where we learned about his anti-Semitic views and actions. The article did a very good job of stating just the facts, without any bias or exaggerations. This was important because the other sources we found at first often focused on the supposed “good” side of Ford, and never talked about the less desirable actions against people of different religions. This source gave us a balance between the two extremes and presented us with a rounded view of Ford as a person, not just as a figure in history. Overall, this was one of our most useful firs sources.


“Henry Ford Back, Admits an Error, Denies.” New York Times 3 Jan. 1916. 24 Jan. 2009



The New York times article was very intriguing and contained a lot of useful information that helped us better understand Ford’s ardent call for pacifism in both wars. It showed that Ford was brave enough to advocate his beliefs despite discouraging opposition, making him a strong individual in history. In this article he admits to his mistake, adding to in-depth information about his character. This also lets us understand that his decisions and choices for the company have a profound impact on society. The article was helpful on our Ford’s Life page, in which we analyzed various facets of his life in an interactive timeline.


“Henry Ford Explains Why He Gives Away $10,000,000.” New York Times 11 Jan. 1914. 24 Jan. 2009

This article explains Ford’s motives for sharing a ten million dollar profit with his workers. It underscores Ford’s pioneering philosophy of “wage motive.” This article was very useful on our Ford’s Life page, in which we delved into Ford’s accomplishments and major events in his life. Not only does this article shed light on Ford as an innovator in big business, but it also shows his dedication to his workers and ultimately Ford as an innovator of American culture. The article also gave us background into how Ford’s company played a pivotal role in the American economy in the 1900s, hiring thousands of high-paid workers and producing millions of automobiles.


“Henry Ford.” The Henry Ford Museum. 2003.15 Mar. 2009


This website by the Henry Ford Museum offered us valuable insight into Henry Ford’s life, from his younger years on his farm in Dearborn to his later years as an industrial giant. The website also played an important role in leading us to other sources such as the Model T usage pamphlet “Henry Ford: Maker of the Model T,” an important primary source. In addition to being a valuable source that gave us a plethora of other sources, this website gave us important images of Ford throughout his lifetime, from when Ford was a young engineer to his later years.These photos were very useful on our Ford’s Life page. Overall, this museum website was an easily accessible, valuable source.


Sutton, Anthony. Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler. 2000. 8 Mar. 2009


This was an extremely biased yet helpful source. The chapter we used was Chapter Six: Henry Ford and the Nazis. Although we had to check most of the facts we used, this provided a valuable perspective on his anti-Semitic activities. It helped us balance who he was as an individual on our website. From this sources, we learned about specific actions Ford took to help Hitler rise, prosper, and financially grow. We learned details about the basis for Ford’s beliefs, and used them in our website after thoroughly checking them with less biased sources. As opposed to the popular image of the “American Hero,” this online book presented Ford as a traitor. Supported by details and quotes, it was a factually accurate book, in terms of dates and concrete ideals. The impacts of Ford’s anti-Semitic actions were greatly exaggerated by the author, and we did not base any part of our web site on his interpretations of the impacts. Instead, we relied mainly on a balance between the two sides in presenting both the good and bad side of Henry Ford. No matter how biased this source was, it furthered our knowledge of Henry Ford as a complete individual, and provided dates for our website.


“The Life of Henry Ford.” The Henry Ford Museum. The Henry Ford Museum.23 Jan. 2009 <http://www.hfmgv.org///>.

We used this museum site for a lot of our timeline. It was one of our best sources because it gave specific dates and explained a general view of Ford’s life. As one of our first sources, this source was not too specific to confuse us, but not to general to give no useful information. We learned about his life, leading to future in-depth study of his individual characteristics, and some facts about his accomplishments, such as the assembly line. Although the source did not give any long lasting impacts, it did provide us information on how Ford got the idea for his Model T. We also used many of the pictures provided on the museum site, such as the picture of Ford as a two and half year old, and the picture on our “Home” page with Ford proudly standing next to his Model T. The accuracy of the museum is not doubtable because the museum was founded by the government, and we later checked the main facts with Ford’s autobiography. Being one of our first sources, this site contained accurate factual information that helped us get a general overview of his individuality and accomplishments.


“Tells of Ford’s Aid for Allies in War.” New York Times 12 July 1919. 24 Jan. 2009



This old New York Times article underscores Henry Ford’s contributions to both World Wars. Although Ford was initially a pacifist, his company’s efforts to develop and mass-produce war machinery such as ships and planes were critical to Allied victory. The article gave us insight into how Ford was a critical individual in American history, an individual whose legacy not only revolutionized the American auto industry, but also critical to America in war. This article was very helpful on our “Individual in History” page, in which we explained Ford’s contributions to both World Wars.


Watts, Steven. The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century. New York, NY: Vintage, 2006.

This biography of Henry Ford offered a comprehensive overview of Ford’s life, which was very useful on our “Life” page. It viewed Ford as not only an innovator of big business, but also as an innovator of American culture. The book also elaborated on his impact on both World Wars and on his pioneering efforts in big business and American engineering. In addition, the biography shed light on what a multifaceted individual Henry Ford. Many know Henry Ford as an innovator in big business and American industrial progress. However, the biography also presents Ford as an ardent pacifist, a promoter of education, an anti-Semitic writer, and ardently opposed of labor unions. These characteristics are also crucial to the analysis of Henry Ford as an individual. Collectively, the book gave us important information on Henry Ford’s role as a catalyst in American history in many ways.