About the Author

David Blanke is Joe B. Frantz Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He earned his BS at the University of Kentucky and his MA and PhD at Loyola University Chicago.

Rise of the Automobile

Primary Sources

University of Michigan, Dearborn, and The Henry Ford. Automobile in American Life and Society. This website was designed as an academic resource for courses focused on the automobile and the automobile industry. Each section—design, environment, gender, labor, and race—has a short introduction and two illustrated scholarly essays (often including annotated bibliographies).

New York Public Library Digital Gallery. Taking the Wheel: Manufacturers' Catalogs from the First Decade of American Automobiles. This collection allows the visitor to explore the early history of the American automobile through images from 69 manufacturer's catalogs published in 1909. There are more than 800 total images. Of particular interest are a 27-page Ford catalog with a price list of parts for the company's Model N, R, and S cars; a similar catalog from the E.R. Thomas Motor Company; a Studebaker catalog of "electric pleasure vehicles" featuring a description of the Model 22f Electric Coupe, a car "for evening social engagements, for use in inclement weather in the summer and for winter use, a comfortable and stylish vehicle"; a catalog describing Packard Motor Car Company's "Packard Truck," with images of the truck delivering various types of goods; and a 17-page instruction book on the "Matheson six-cylinder car" with detailed technical diagrams of the car's engine, transmission, and controls.

Hagley Museum and Library. Hagley Digital Archives. With a focus on business history and its connections to larger cultural, social, and political trends, the Hagley archive presents a number of digital images related to the early automobile industry. These include a collection of DuPont Automobiles (1919-1931). Type "automobile" into the keyword search to uncover a diverse collection of catalogs, advertisements, and other resources.

The Henry Ford. The Henry Ford Museum. The Henry Ford Museum provides unique educational experiences based on authentic objects, stories, and lives from America's traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation. Its purpose is to inspire people to learn from these traditions to help shape a better future.

John W. Hartman Center and Duke University Digital Scriptorium. Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920. This site focuses on the rise of consumer culture in America and the development of a professionalized advertising industry. Keyword searches on "automobile" and "car" return advertisements, log books, and safety guides from the early years of the industry.