Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village seeks funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a 2-1/2 year project to improve the documentation and physical control of and intellectual access to a specific group of its collections relating to childhood. Our goal is to incorporate the cultural significance of these childhood artifacts into their documentation, then provide ways for these materials to be made accessible to a variety of users.
The child-related collections included in this proposal consist of toys, dolls, games, and children's vehicles. These collections rank high when compared with similar ones across the country. The activities of this project will not only make these collections more widely known, but also transform them into a truly unique resource for humanities scholars, for educators, and for use in public programming.
The scope of the collections and the plan for wide-ranging computerized access distinguish this project. Documentation, through the collections database, will involve cataloging, numbering, and photographing the items. In cataloging, we will consider six distinct functions of child-related artifacts in American culture: as teaching tools, as cultural symbols, as products of innovation, as marketing tools, as elements of social ritual, and as forms of personal expression. To help us achieve this "intellectual access" to the collections, we will draw upon both the expertise of academic scholars and the documentary resources of the museum's sizable trade, mail-order catalog, and photographic collection.
The preservation problems of the toy, doll, and game collection will be addressed through timely treatment of actively deteriorating artifacts during the cataloging process, a conservation survey, storage reorganization, and rehousing.
A variety of user-friendly products will allow intellectual access to this collection by diverse audiences, nationally:
1) a printing finding aid;
2) collection-level records for two standard on-line bibliographic utilities (OCLC and RLIN)
3) use of the enhanced catalog records and digital images in a series of World Wide Web programs;
4) use of the enhanced catalog records and digital images in teacher training workshops and distance learning classroom programs as part of Project IDEA (Interactive Distance Education and Access).