Log In | Contact Us| View Cart (0)
Browse: Collections Digital Content Subjects Creators Record Groups

Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage | University of Michigan-Dearborn Archives

Name: Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage

Historical Note:


The Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage was established in 2000 to study the history of the automobile and the automotive industry. The major work comprised two oral history projects: Motor City Voices and Motor City Memories. MCV focuses on the history of black workers in automobiles plants, and the DRUM (Dodge Revolutionary Union Management), an organization of black workers. MCM focuses on workers in the Village Industries, small plants located along the Rouge River during the 1920s and 1930s, which Henry Ford had hoped would provide the best of two worlds, the agricultural aspects of farming and gardening, and the industrial work that provided good income. The Center worked in partnership with MotorCities-Automobile National Heritage Area. The Center also hosted two major conventions in the history of technology. (See web site below for further information about the Center).

Director: Bruce Pietrykowski, professor of economics.

Other staff: Kae Halonen, education specialist and interviewer for Motor City Memories; Wendy Michaels, project coordinator.

Media: Dave Daniele and Greg Taylor, University of Michigan-Dearborn Television Studio.

Funding was provided by UAW-Ford.

The Center closed during 2008.

Other Information:

The “Motor Cities Memory Project” was a series of interviews with autoworkers “for use by the MotorCities-Automobile National Heritage Area (Motor Cities-ANHA), an affiliate of the National Park Service. It is one of 23 National Heritage Areas designated by Congress, taking in a large area of southeast Michigan. MotorCities-ANHA is dedicated to preservation and promotion of Michigan’s rich automotive and labor heritage. // [Kae Halonen, UM-D Education Specialist for the project] says the goal of the project is to bring this heritage of automotive and labor history to students in grades K-12. The project is being funded by a $600,000 grant from the UAW….The ‘Memories Project’ was made possible by the combined efforts of Wayne County Parks, U of M Dearborn, Auto National Heritage and  the UAW. It will be a time capsule filled with over a thousand oral histories which will be used as part of the MotorCities-ANHA Participating Schools Pilot Program and become part of the archives at the libraries of Wayne State University, U of M Dearborn, the Labor Institute, U of M Flint, and Greenfield Village.” (“Making History,” written by Laura Lucas. Your Community Crier: Plymouth’s only weekly news magazine, v.iv, issue 3, week of January 24, 2003, p. 9)

Further description from the Website (2004):

Created in the year 2000, the Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage is intended to be a locus of research and an active site for labor, business and public policy discussions about the history of the automobile and the automotive industry. The focus of the Center can be defined in terms of the following key dimensions of inquiry: material culture and automobile design; economic and social history of automotive production; the social history of advertising and consumption; and the global impact of the automobile.

Faculty and students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus as well as other scholars will be able to use the Center and, in the near future, the archives of the Henry Ford Estate to conduct research and to launch their own investigation into the impact that the automobile has had on virtually every aspect of modern life.

Located within the Henry Ford Estate on the grounds of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the Center serves as a visible linkage between the academic programs offered through the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and the interpretive activities that take place at the Estate.

The Following is select text taken from various pages of the website as it appeared in 2009:

Page 1: Current Projects

The Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage is currently conducting oral history interviews in a joint project with The Automobile National Heritage Area (ANHA), called Motor Cities Memories.

Ford Village Industry Oral History Interviews

The name Henry Ford is not usually associated with a vision of community-centered, small-scale industrialization. Yet, Ford's Village Industry plants, run largely by hydroelectric power, represented a unique experiment to bring industrial production into the rural and suburban countryside surrounding Detroit. The first plant opened in 1920 yet many remained in production throughout the 1940's and beyond.

Our project involves videotaping interviews with workers from the Ford Village Industry Mills. We have currently collected interviews from 4 mills: Milan Mill, Milford Mill, Phoenix Mill, and Nankin Mills.

Page 2: Dimensions of Inquiry and Focus of Research

Material Culture and Automotive Design

Product Design; Environmental Design; Art, Industry, and Modernity

The process of design involves the intersection of ideals and practice, aesthetics and functionality, art and science. The spatial manipulation of material and the material embodiment of artistic ideals intersect in the design process. By attending to the way that the automobile design process takes place we can better understand the creative process in fields as diverse as abstract sculpture and functional manufacturing systems.

Recently an additional factor - the environment - has created the need to re-think the design process with an eye toward both mitigating negative environmental impacts and recycling industrial and manufacturing by-products back into the production process. Together with the UM-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center, the Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage affords further opportunity to investigate the relationship between industrial design and the environment.

Economic and Social History of Automobile Production

Technology Studies; Labor-Management Relations; Social and Economic Development

Automobile production is a complex process that can be analyzed and understood broadly in terms of technology, economy, race and gender relations, and politics. The history of automobile production is marked by technological innovation and inventions that have been applied and adapted throughout the manufacturing and service sectors of the world economy. From high-volume assembly line production to just-in-time distribution networks and supplier chains to large-scale corporate mergers of company brand images and vehicle lines, the auto industry has played a central role in advancing the production and organizational frontier of industrial development. Similarly, the current institutional relationship between labor and management bears the stamp of past conflict and cooperation that began in the auto industry. Grievance procedures, cost-of-living adjustments and other features of modern industrial life were pioneered in the auto industry. Finally, the shape of our cities and the pattern of urban growth and decline has been determined by the location of automobile plants and the highways developed to extend the scope of commercial and personal transportation.

Social History of Consumption and Marketing

Sales Organization; Market Research; Advertising; Consumer Behavior

A distinctive history of advertising can be developed by simply examining the ways in which the automobile has been marketed in the U.S. and throughout the world. Automobiles are means of transport but they are also durable goods that become part of our family - they often become our inanimate family pets. In such ways the automobile transcends its role as a means of traveling through space. It transports us in other ways as well. Sales and marketing efforts have both captured and embellished upon the role the automobile plays in helping us to craft our personal identity. The automobile has generated numerous cultural referents in song, art, architecture, literature and in the everyday aspects of our life. For example, the motel and the drive-thru are taken-for-granted cultural artifacts and icons that owe their particular shape and form to the automobile. With the establishment of the Automotive National Heritage Area, historic automotive-related sites in southeastern Michigan are being restored and refurbished, re-interpreted and re-envisioned. The Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage will contribute to these recent efforts.

The Automobile and Global Processes

In addition, the design, production, marketing and consumption of the automobile has always taken place within a multinational and global context. Therefore, attention to the global scope of the automobile is a theme common to all three dimensions of inquiry. The spatial location of the automotive industry is but one focus of the globalization process. Economies of scale in auto production have are also linked to the need to globalize consumer markets. The interplay between local and regional culture, environment, and politics, on the one hand, and global production imperatives on the other is yet another area for study at the Center. With the help of interactive technology we plan to initiate discussions about the international history of auto design, production, labor relations, marketing, and consumption.

Bruce Pietrykowski, Ph.D.


Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage

Henry Ford Estate

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dearborn, MI 48128

2nd Annual International Conference on the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M)

November 4-7, 2004

Conference Location

This year’s Conference will take place at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. The estate of Henry Ford – Fairlane – is located on the grounds of the University. In addition, the Detroit region has much to offer. The University is located across from the world-renowned Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. The City of Detroit boasts a wealth of transport and mobility-related sites including the famous Diego Rivera mural Detroit Industry. In 1998 the region was designated an Automotive National Heritage Area, a cultural landscape administered by the National Park Service. This recognition has inspired a series of preservation and historic interpretation projects relating to transport and mobility. 

Special Events (tentative schedule)

Thursday, November 4 – Keynote Address by Dr. David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, Graduate Center, City University of New York (reception to follow).

Friday, November 5 – Opening Plenary Session on “Mobility History and Policy” (invited speakers):

Dr. Richard John, Director, U.S. Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Dr. Bruce Seely, Professor of History, Michigan Technical University and former Program Director for Science and Technology Studies, NSF

Conference Excursions

1) The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (includes tour of the historic River Rouge assembly plant)

2) Detroit Motown cultural history tour

Saturday, November 6 - Conference Banquet to be held in the Rivera Court of the Detroit Institute of Arts (includes guided tour of the Rivera mural Detroit Industry and Charles Sheeler exhibition).

Second International Conference on the History of Transport Traffic and Mobility (T2M)

Thursday November 4 - Sunday November 7 2004

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dearborn, Michigan USA


The International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic, and Mobility, a new organization formed to promote scholarly research and foster communication between a broad array of individuals and groups, invites proposals for papers to be presented at the Second International Conference on the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M), to be held on 4 –7 November 2004 at the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, Michigan USA.

The conference aims to build upon the success of last year’s inaugural meeting in bringing together the many scattered initiatives, research programmes, research institutions and individuals exploring the social, cultural, economic, technological and political history of mobility. The term mobility history invites investigation on the material and the symbolic circulation of people and goods in relation to various modes of transport. We especially encourage transnational and transmodal approaches. For a schedule of last year’s program please visit: http://www.t2m.org/.

The theme of this year’s conference will be “Mobility History and Policy” and conference participants are encouraged, though not required, to submit papers and organize panels around this theme. The intention is to revitalise the historical study of transport, traffic and mobility, partly by creating new opportunities for the exchange and development of ideas and concepts, both in person and through the usual scholarly media such as journals. The official founding of the International Association is meant to further these aims. We especially invite young scholars and Ph.D. students to submit proposals. We also encourage paper and session proposals by colleagues from the museum and archives world on themes in the realm of public policy.

This year’s conference will be hosted by the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage. We expect approximately 100-150 conference attendees, with a maximum of 175. We have found that attendees greatly value the opportunity for discussion and critical exchange of ideas generated at this conference. The conference language (written and oral) is English. The deadline for abstracts and a short cv (both max. 1 page and composed in MS Word or pdf format only) is April 15, 2004. Send proposals to: submissions@t2m.org. Notification of acceptance will be sent by May 20, 2004. The full text of papers accepted must be submitted before August 15, 2004 if they are to be included in the proceedings on the official conference CD-ROM (mailed to all participants prior to the conference).

September 1, 2004 is the deadline for payment of the conference fee of 75 dollars for Association Members and 100 dollars for non-members. After September 1 the registration fee is 110 dollars. In due course, an application form for the conference with information about the venue and hotels will be posted on the conference web site and sent to all colleagues who have expressed their intention of attending.

During the conference we will follow the policy of short presentations and an emphasis on debate and discussion.

For general information please contact the Programme Committee’s chair: Bruce Pietrykowski at bpie@umich.edu

The Programme Committee:

dr. Bruce Pietrykowski, Director, Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage, Department of Social Sciences, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, MI 48128 (chair): bpie@umich.edu

dr.ing. Gijs Mom, Foundation for the History of Technology and chair ECMD, Eindhoven University of Technology, IPO 2.33, the Netherlands (vice chair):g.p.a.mom@tm.tue.nl

dr. Laurent Bonnaud, Centre Roland Mousnier, Paris-Sorbonne: laurentbonnaud@laposte.net

dr. Hans-Liudger Dienel, Centre for Technology and Society, Technical University Berlin: dienel@ztg.tu-berlin.de

dr. Jeff Schramm, Department of History and Political Science, University of Missouri-Rolla, Rolla, MO 65409: schrammj@umr.edu

dr. Larry Shumsky, Department of History, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061: yksmuhs@vt.edu

dr. Margaret Walsh, School of American & Canadian Studies, Nottingham University: Margaret.Walsh@nottingham.ac.uk



Link may be invalid as the organization is no longer in operation.

Page Generated in: 0.089 seconds (using 107 queries).
Using 9MB of memory. (Peak of 9.1MB.)

Powered by Archon Version 3.21
Copyright ©2011 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign