Answered By: Archives & Library Staff @The Henry Ford
Last Updated: Apr 13, 2018 Views: 29

The Henry Ford Office papers span roughly 1902-1952 with the bulk of the collection from 1920-1947. The papers are contained in multiple accessions:

   Highland Park Office subgroup (bulk 1910-1919)
      Acc. 2 Records Stored in 1919 series, 1902-1923
      Acc. 62 Records Moved to Engineering Laboratory in 1919 series, 1911-1927

   Engineering Laboratory Office records subgroup (bulk 1920-1947)
      Acc. 284 Business and Personal Correspondence series, 1920
      Acc. 285 In-house Subject and Name Filing System series, January-June, 1921
      Acc. 285 Library Bureau Filing System series, July 1921-1929
      Acc. 285 Amberg Filing System series, 1930-1949
      Acc. 285 In-house Name File with Subjects Filing System, 1950-1952

   Personal Topics Subject File subgroup (bulk 1920-1947)
      Acc. 23 General Personal Records series, 1823-1984 (bulk 1920-1947)
      SE007 Frank Campsall records series, 1887-1991 (bulk 1920-1935)

Ford Motor Company went through several office filing systems during Henry Ford’s time and in order to find correspondence in the above collections a researcher must understand and use the filing system in place in that specific accession. The guidelines below will help you locate materials based on time period of the correspondence. Please note, the majority of correspondence was filed according to the rules below, however there were exceptions made, and sometimes rules weren’t followed, so you may have to look in multiple files to locate correspondence. Also note, that while some filing systems used subjects, many did not and filed materials solely by correspondent.

1902-1921
Accessions 2, 62, 23, 284, and SE007 are arranged by basic “in house” filing system. Up until 1914, each folder heading was given either a subject, personal name, or business name. Starting in 1919, these types of files continued, but file headings under “A, B, C,” etc. were added in. Subjects, personal names, and business names were filed under the corresponding letter (by last name of a person, or first word of a business name). These letter files were interfiled with the full subject heading files.

1921-1923
Different filing systems were in place for Acc. 285. In July 1921 Ford Motor Company moved to a new filing system, the Library Bureau Filing system, a numerical filing system based on the personal, or business names of correspondents. The correspondence was alphabetized for filing purposes and assigned codes as follows: 1) the first part of the code came from the first letter of an individual’s last name, or the first letter in the first principle word of the business name, 2) the second part came from the first letter of the first name of an individual, or the first letter of the second word of the business name.

1921-June 1923 Surname of individual/principle business name - 1st number

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I-J

K

L

M

N-O

P-Q

R

S

T

U-V

W

X-Y-Z

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

 

1921-June 1923 Given name of individual/secondary business name - 2nd number

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Single name or Subject

A-B

C

D-E

F-G

H-I

J-K

L-M

N-S

T-Z

(example: Cornelius Hutchinson would be filed under: folder 82 (H=8, C=2), Steel Manufacturing Corp. would be filed under folder 167 (S=16 M=7))

1923-1927
In 1923 the system was expanded to include more subsets for each 1st number:

1923-1927 Surname of individual/principle business name - 1st number

A

B

C

D-E

F-G

H

I-J-K

L

M

N-O

P-Q

R

S

T-U-V

W

X-Y-Z

A1
An2

B3
Be4
Bi5
Bo6
Br7
Bu8

C9
Ch10
Co11
Cor12

D13
Do14

E15

F16
Fo17

G18
Go19

H20
Har21
He22
Ho23
Hu24

I25

J26

K27
Ki28

L29
Le30
Lo31

M32
McA33
Me34
Mi35
Mo36
Mu37

N38

O39

P40
Pi41

Q42

R43
Ri44
Ro45

S46
Schn47
Sh48
Sm49
Sn50
St51

T52
Ti53

U54

V55

W56
We57
Wi58
Wo59

XYX60

 

1923-1927 Given name of individual/secondary business name - 2nd number

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Single name or Subject

A-B

C

D-E

F-G

H-I

J-K

L-M

N-S

T-Z

(examples: Cornelius Hutchinson now would be filed under: folder 242, Steel Manufacturing Co. would be under: folder 517)

1927-1929
In January 1927 the system was again expanded with more subsets for each 1st number:

1927-1929 Surname of individual/principle business name - 1st number

A

B

C

D

F-G

H-I

J-K-L

M

N-O

P-Q-R

S

T-U-V

W-X-Y-Z

A1
Al2
Am3
Ap4
At5

B6
Bak7
Bar8
Be9
Ben10
Bi11
Bl12
Bo13
Br14
Bro15
Bu16
Bus17

C18
Car19
Ch20
Cl21
Co22
Con23
Cor24
Cr25
Cu26

D27
Dav28
De29
Di30
Do31
Dr32

E 33
El 34
Ep35

 

F36
Fl 37
Fo38
Fr 39

G 40
Ge42
Gl42
Go43
Gr44
Grl45

H46
Ham47
Har48
Hat49
He50
Her51
Hi52
Ho53
Hom54
Hu55

I56

J57
Jo58
Jon59

K60
Ke61
Ki62
Kn63

L64
Lar65
Le66
Li67
Lo68
Lu69

M70
Mal71
Mas72
McA73
McK74
Me75
Mi77
Min78
Mo79
Mor80
Mu81

N82
Ni83

O84
Om85

P86
Pe87
Ph88
Po89
Pr90

Q91

R92
Re93
Ri94
Ro95
Rol96
Ru97

S98
Sch99
Schn100
Se101
Sh102
Sm104
Sn105
Sp106
St107
Sto108
Su109

T110
Th111
To112
Tu113

U114

V115

W116
Wam117
We118
Wel119
Wh120
Wi121
Wilm122
Win123
Woo124

XYZ125

 

1927-1929 Given name of individual/secondary business name - 2nd number

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Single name or Subject

A-B

C

D-E

F-G

H-I

J-K

L-M

N-S

T-Z

(Examples: Cornelius Hutchinson now would be under: folder 552, Steel Manufacturing Co. would be under: folder 1077)

1930-1950
In 1930, the company switched to the Amberg filing system. This system was purely alphabetical, based on the first letter of an individual’s last name, or the primary letter of the first word of a company name (the first name of an individual or second word in a company name had no bearing on the filing). This system used multiple subdivisions under each letter (those these subdivisions were not fixed and might vary slightly in different years).(examples: Cornelius Hutchinson would be filed under: HUT-HUZ, Steel Manufacturing Co. would be filed under: STED-STEE)

1950-1952
Ford Motor company again switched their filing system in 1950 to another in-house system. This system was again alphabetical and correspondence would be filed under the last name of the individual or the first word of the company name with there were also additional files and subdivisions for correspondence such as “A” “AM-AZ” etc.
(example: Cornelius Hutchinson may be filed under Hutchinson, Cornelius or H-HU, Steel Manufacturing Co. might be under Steel Manufacturing Co. or S-TH)

 

In addition to the above Henry Ford Office paper accessions, some business material can be found in Henry and Clara Ford's personal papers in Acc.1 Fair Lane papers which is arranged mostly by subject.

Finding aids are available for further materials relating to Henry Ford. If you can't find what you're looking for, please feel free to AskUs or email us at research.center@thehenryford.org. 

(Image: THF95013, Henry Ford in His Office at the Highland Park Plant, 1913)

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