Ford Motor Co. celebrated its 119th anniversary last week by launching an online database that lets the public sift through the venerable archives documenting its first century.
The Ford Heritage Vault lets anyone view and download artifacts for their personal use, at no charge. The company described it as the U.S. auto industry’s most comprehensive online database.
The collection features more than 5,000 photographs and product brochures from Ford and Lincoln vehicles, spanning from the automaker’s founding in 1903 to its 2003 centennial.
“We’re opening up in a way we’ve never done before,” Ted Ryan, Ford archive and heritage brand manager, said in a statement. “Our archives were established 70 years ago, and for the first time, we’re opening the vault for the public to see. This is just a first step for all that will come in the future.”
Ford’s archives team curated the material over the past two years, and it piloted the collection with the help of employees, retirees and graduate students from Wayne State University.
One example Ford highlighted is a series of brochures from the 1970s and ’80s. The marketing materials, awash in oranges, browns and yellows, depict beach outings, racing and skydiving activities in a bid to appeal to younger consumers.
“Complementing all of the vehicle photos available in the Ford Heritage Vault, brochures like these add so much more information and impact for people who want to learn about our products, heritage and accessories,” said Ciera Casteel, a processing archivist who prepared some of the materials.