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Ford Launches Online Archive

To mark its 119th anniversary, Ford Motor Company is making its archival material available to the public through a new online database called the Ford Heritage Vault, the company announced.

Ford created the Heritage Vault for fans, journalists and car enthusiasts, making it easy to discover the company’s rich heritage from anywhere in the world, the company said. The searchable artifacts are downloadable for personal use, free of charge.

The Ford Heritage Vault contains more than 5,000 curated photographs and product brochures from Ford and Lincoln vehicles, spanning from the company’s founding in 1903 to its centennial in 2003, and will grow over time as the company continues to draw from its archives, the company said.

“We’re opening up in a way we’ve never done before,” said Ted Ryan, Ford archive and heritage brand manager. “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 worked with graduate students from Wayne State University’s library and information science program in Detroit, as well as Ford employees and retirees, to pilot the Heritage Vault in advance of its launch.

Ford Bronco and Ford F-Series were common search items among testers. Meteor, Fairlane, Galaxie, Model A and Edsel were also popular, with one user finding the Tempo models their mother and grandmother owned in the 1980s and ’90s.

Ford Heritage Vault has been created with accessibility features that translate photos, charts and graphs and other pre-digital assets for compatibility with assistive technology now used by blind and visually impaired site visitors, such as screen readers, to interpret websites, the company said. Heritage Vault users can request remediated versions of additional brochures as needed.

“These assets were born analog, and we have worked hard to bring them to the digital world,” said Casteel, who led the effort to make the assets accessible. “But digitizing isn’t enough. It was important to us that the Heritage Vault is accessible for everyone to enjoy.”

A.J. Hecht

A.J. Hecht is the digital content editor of THE SHOP and host of the In Gear with THE SHOP podcast. Have an idea, a tip, or a question you’d like to see answered? Contact A.J. at ahecht@cahabamedia.com.

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