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DATE: May 13, 2002

Campus receives $220K NEH grant to develop web site, online archive on automotive history

DEARBORN--The University of Michigan-Dearborn has received $220,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop a web site and online archive for studying and teaching about the impact of the automobile and the auto industry on American life, labor, and culture.

The grant is one of only 14 awarded by NEH in the exemplary education category, which helps educators engage in more extensive consideration of humanities subjects and their teaching by funding the development of humanities materials, and ways to disseminate humanities scholarship and teaching practices.

The web site and online archive project goes hand in hand with the campus's new science and technology studies (STS) program, which will focus on the automobile.
UM-Dearborn STS faculty, the campus's Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage (CSAH) and Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village will collaborate on the project.

"The web site and online archive will be rich in content, combining archival materials from the extensive collections in auto history at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village with texts written for the site by a group of distinguished scholars and educational materials developed by UM-Dearborn faculty," according to Jonathan Smith, associate professor of English at UM-Dearborn, who will direct the project.

"The site will be designed to accompany the campus's new STS program, particularly the introductory course 'The Automobile in American Life and Society,'" Smith said. "But given the importance of the automobile in American society, the site will not be limited to students and faculty at UM-Dearborn. We want to provide a resource for students and teachers at other institutions, and in other educational settings, as well."

Bruce Pietrykowski, associate professor of economics at UM-Dearborn and director of the Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage, agreed.

"Our NEH grant encourages us to begin to make a significant contribution to the development of a broader understanding of ways in which auto production shaped our way of life," Pietrykowski said. "In addition to supporting our STS curriculum, it will afford us greater opportunity to engage with individuals and organizations in the regional community, like the Automotive National Heritage Area (ANHA)."

Pietrykowski, who was recently appointed to the education advisory committee of ANHA, noted that the United Auto Workers union awarded ANHA a grant to develop educational programs and materials that highlight the role of men and women in the auto industry.

Because the web site will appeal to scholars at other institutions as well as the general public, it will be created using a rich set of multimedia resources, Smith said.
Items such as photographs, oral histories, design drawings, films, advertisements and archival documents from the collections at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village will be incorporated into the site.

Scholars from around the world will have access to materials previously available only by visiting the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village.

In addition, the work of nationally known scholars will appear on the site. For instance, David Hounshell, the David M. Roderick professor of technology and social change at Carnagie Mellon University and vice president of the Society for the History of Technology, will contribute to the site, as will Thomas Sugrue, Bicentennial Class of 1940 professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.
The web site will feature an online archive devoted to the activities of auto industry engineers and designers, incorporating both oral and visual materials.

This archive will use Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village's collection of approximately 300 interviews conducted in the 1950s with people associated with Henry Ford, approximately 100 interviews conducted in the 1980s with automotive designers, papers of several major American automotive designers and records of the Ford Motor Company.

UM-Dearborn faculty will work with curators at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village to design instructional materials for the site, such as discussion questions and assignments for each part of the site.

"The goal of the site is to provide students with access to a mass of previously unavailable materials and make available a focused set of relevant materials that are positioned in an academic context and designed to be used and analyzed critically," Smith said. "We believe this will make for a challenging, productive and satisfying educational experience."

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