A Story Woven of Cloth on Display at The Henry Ford

It’s human to want to leave a legacy — some small impact on the world that will outlive us. For the Roddis family of Wisconsin, that legacy comes partially in the form of generations’ worth of clothing, now a part of The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation. Visit the new exhibit at The Henry Ford starting November 5. It’s sure to be a fun and inspirational trip! Read below for more information. 

“What’s absolutely wonderful about this collection is it’s from one family and spans many decades and several generations,” said Jeanine Head Miller, curator of domestic life for The Henry Ford. “Often, people don’t save things to this degree — they get dispersed and their stories are lost.”

The Roddis family was a successful middle class family living in Marshfield, Wisconsin, from the 1890s to the 2010s. William H. Roddis moved to this small town from Milwaukee with his wife, Sara, and his son Hamilton and daughter Frances in 1894. There, he turned a struggling veneer business into the thriving Roddis Lumber and Veneer Company. His son Hamilton continued this success. And there, Hamilton Roddis and his wife, Catherine Prindle, raised a family of five daughters and one son.

Photo Courtesy of Gillian Bostock Ewing

Photo Courtesy of Gillian Bostock Ewing

Though living in a small town away from urban centers, the well-educated Roddis family was in touch with the larger world. The Roddis women loved stylish clothes and found ways to keep up with fashion. “Their closets held garments available in the stores of Milwaukee, Chicago, New York or Paris — as well as stylish garments made by Catherine,” Miller said.

Though the family was prosperous, they didn’t have an unlimited clothing budget, stocking their closets very wisely. “Their clothing was tasteful, beautifully designed and constructed, but not pretentious,” Miller added.

Hamilton and Catherine’s daughter Augusta played a key role in preserving the generations of the family’s garments acquired by The Henry Ford, storing items in her family home’s third-floor attic for decades.

Augusta Roddis died in 2011. The Henry Ford acquired her treasured collection in 2014. American Style and Spirit: 130 Years of Fashions and Lives of an Entrepreneurial Family goes on exhibit in the museum on November 5.

Photo Courtesy of Gillian Bostock Ewing

Photo Courtesy of Gillian Bostock Ewing

“Now that The Henry Ford is the custodian of the collection, it is our responsibility to preserve these garments for the future,” said Fran Faile, textile conservator at The Henry Ford. “We do that by housing them in specialized storage areas, exhibiting them only for limited periods of time and ensuring that the materials used for display are safe for the delicate fabrics. We are committed to providing the best possible care for the artifacts entrusted to us.”

Even the most delicate of repairs are considered carefully, she added.

“In the end, what the family appreciated about The Henry Ford was that we valued the context,” noted Miller. “The garments are lovely and interesting to look at, yet they take us beyond, into broader stories of America. So the collection is about more than just fashion. It’s about people — and the American experience spanning more than 130 years.”

Alexa Stanard is a guest writer for The Henry Ford. Her story, along with other facts about American Style and Spirit: 130 Years of Fashions and Lives of an Entrepreneurial Family can be see in the current issue of The Henry Ford Magazine. You can learn more about the Roddis collection of artifacts in our digital collections.

10 Fun Facts About The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation

On Oct. 1, The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation marks its third season as part of the CBS Dream Team line-up. As we gear up for another year of Mo Rocca, dreaming big, unique stories from The Henry Ford’s Archive of American Innovation and the stories from innovators across the globe, here are a few facts you may not know about the show:

1. Filming for all The Henry Ford segments actually takes place over the course of three weeks. The film crew typically comes in for a week in July, September and December and can film anywhere between 7-8 episodes each week.

2. Do you want to see some TV magic being made? Then make sure you connect with The Henry Ford’s social media channels for updates on the next filming dates. Guests are welcome to watch the behind-the-scenes action, and you never know, you might even get to meet show host Mo Rocca.

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

3. The show gives guests both old and new the chance to see and learn more about the great items inside The Henry Ford’s collection. With 26 million artifacts, there’s sure to be one that even the most dedicated of Henry Ford fans, might say “hey, I didn’t know they had that!” This season, the show definitely does just that – highlighting some of our more familiar items like Henry Ford’s 1896 Quadricycle and our 1913 Herschel-Spillman carousel located in Greenfield Village to the unique items that may not be so recognizable, including the collection of Susana Allen Hunter quilts and telecommunications items from Charles Jenkins

4. Not only does The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation provide a closer look at The Henry Ford’s collection, but the show provides insight that labels aren’t big enough to display. Each segment includes an in-depth interview with our curators that are actually filmed twice – once with the producers and then again with show host Mo Rocca. Guests interested in diving even deeper into story topics can visit thehenryford.org for a look at related archive items, photos, videos, blog posts and more inside our episode guides.

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

5. The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation has beat-out big names like Ellen and Oprah for Emmys! During its two years of award contention, the show has been nominated for six Daytime Emmys and has won two. In its first year, it took home the Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Series and in 2016 won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing Special Class.

6. Emmys aren’t the only awards the show has won. The show has received two Parents’ Choice Silver Recommendations, one Cynopsis Media Social Good Award for Integrated Campaign for a TV Series and five Telly Awards.

7. Show host Mo Rocca has been able to do some pretty cool things at The Henry Ford in the three seasons of filming. He’s helped shear our Merino Sheep at Firestone Farm, driven our 1922 Detroit Electric inside Henry Ford Museum, helped out our conservation textile department, and this season will ride inside Henry Ford’s first automobile – the 1896 Quadricycle.

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

8. The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation has an awards program that educators can enter. The Teacher Innovator Awards recognizes America’s most innovative teachers.  This past year’s winners received an Innovation Immersion Experience at The Henry Ford including round-trip airfare, accommodations, behind-the-scenes tours with our curators and a special recognition ceremony.

9. The first season of the show is actually available on DVD! You can purchase The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation on our website www.thehenryford.org or inside one of our campus retail stores.

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

10. This isn’t the first time we’ve hosted our own TV show. In the 1950s Marion Corwell hosted “Windows to the Past,” a history-based program for children on Detroit Public Television. Throughout the years The Henry Ford has been the backdrop for live broadcasts, interviews and even dramatic television cameos.

For more information on The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation visit www.thehenryford.org. Interested in tuning in? Check your local listings here to find out when “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation” is playing in your area.

Meet the Blogger:



Melissa Foster is the Media and Film Relations Manager at The Henry Ford. Melissa is front and center on the TV show filming action as a part of the show’s crew.

The Magical History Tour Has Arrived at Henry Ford Museum

If you missed it in 1964, here’s your second chance.

The Beatles changed pop culture and the world of music forever. Were you an original Beatlemaniac? Or are you simply inspired by their music today? Either way, you’ll have the chance to experience the creativity, love and curiosity of the Fab Four firsthand as The Magical History Tour: A Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition, presented by Meijer, makes its U.S. premiere at The Henry Ford. Don’t miss the most comprehensive Beatles exhibition ever assembled, featuring instruments, clothing, rare original photos and many never-before-displayed artifacts!

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

Follow the Beatles’ iconic story from the very beginning, through the throes of Beatlemania, to the years of experimentation and dissention, and finally to their far-reaching inspiration today. This amazing story is told from the perspective of the Beatles, and visitors will experience pivotal points in their lives through this exhibition.

Your experience to The Magical History Tour includes:

  • Instruments, equipment and other personal belongings, including the original Quarrymen drum kit.
  • Letters, memos and pivotal documentation of the Beatles’ career, including the official “break-up letter” typed by John to Paul’s lawyer and signed by John, George and Ringo.
  • Rare photographs from the Beatles’ touring years, including many that have never before been seen.
  • A vast collection of Beatles merchandise and memorabilia, including the album signed by John Lennon to his eventual killer hours before his death.
  • Variety named the Beatles the Icons of the 20th Century. Experience why in this immersive, educational and fun exhibit — only at The Henry Ford.

The Magical History Tour takes over Henry Ford Museum April 30 through Sept. 18, 2016. Admission for members of The Henry Ford is $5; nonmember admission (including a ticket to Henry Ford Museum) is $26 for adults, $24 for seniors, and $20.75 for children ages 5-12.

Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford


What is your favorite Beatles memory? Share with us by commenting below!

Lish Dorset

Lish Dorset is the social media manager for The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.

The Magical History Tour: A Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition is not endorsed by, sponsored by, associated with, or otherwise affiliated with The Beatles, Apple Corps Ltd., or any member of The Beatles or their representatives.

The exhibition is a collaboration between Exhibits Development Group, exhibition producer, manager, and distributor; and PMA Collective, co-producer and memorabilia collection owners. The culmination of the world-class talent brought to the table by each party ensures that this is an undertaking of the highest quality, from the memorabilia to design to production.