Field Trips and Events

White Glove Event in Halle Library Archives:

Limited seating will be made available at EMU’s Halle Library Archives for viewing of manuscript materials from the Mark Jefferson collection. As a founding member of the AAG, Mark Jefferson received correspondence from colleagues in geography programs throughout the early 20th Century – during his 39 years of service as Chair of Geography. As a result of the success of notable individuals who studied under Jefferson, EMU’s Geography program became referred to as the “nursery” of North American Geography.

Field trips

We are excited to suggest the following van excursion and/or self-guided field trips:      

  • Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum (YAHM);
  • Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport, two hour event with a meal at the Bomber Restaurant in Ypsilanti afterwards;
  • Michigan Firehouse Museum;
  • Ypsilanti Historical Museum;
  • The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (half to full day event, with a meal afterward at one of Dearborn’s Middle Eastern Restaurants. 

Vans will be provided as transportation to the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, and to the Yankee Air Museum, in Belleville, to return to the EMU Student Center. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring layers of clothing to be prepared for whatever weather conditions prevail.

The field trips suggested for the conference reflect aspects of both the automotive and aviation manufacturing history associated with Ypsilanti and the near surrounding areas, ranging from the technological innovations of Elijah McCoy during the railroad era to the significant innovations in aircraft assembly developed by the Ford Motor Company for the production of 8,000 B-24 bombers at the Willow Run Plant during WWII.  Some of the innovations in airplane wing construction developed at Willow Run are still used in aircraft manufacturing today.  After WWII, the Willow Run plant was used first by the Kaiser Frazer Motor Company and then General Motors (GM) for the development of the first automatic transmission (Hydra-matic) assembly line in the world.  Multi-talented entrepreneur Preston Tucker owned a home (110 Park Street) as well as an engineering workshop (Ypsilanti Machine & Tool Company) in town where development took place during 1946 leading to the creation of the TUCKER 48 Sedan, initially called the “Torpedo,” a rear engine car with safety features such as a “Crash Compartment” and “Pop Out Windshield” and a “Center Headlight” that turned when the vehicle turned. Unfortunately, a lack of raw materials after World War II and enough capital to fund the company resulted in only fifty-one Tucker’s being made. Today forty-seven remain valued at over a million dollars each (YAHM).  Hollywood Director Francis Ford Coppola owns two Tuckers and produced the film “Tucker: The Man and his Dream in 1988.  A mock-up (prop) Tucker 48 Sedan used in the movie is currently on display at the Ypsilanti Automotive Historical Museum (YAHM), in Depot Town.  An original Tucker 48 Sedan is among the select group of automobiles currently on display at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, in Dearborn.

Ypsilanti Automotive History Museum (YAHM)

The collection of the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum (YAHM) includes 30 vintage automobiles with a historical connection to Ypsilanti, including a 1933 Hudson Terraplane K Series Coach.  The museum incorporates Miller Motors and a collection consisting of advertising, service, repair, and promotional items that were essential to the automobile business of the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

As a thriving commercial and manufacturing hub, Ypsilanti had a significant influence on pioneering automotive companies and the men and women who built them. The YAHM preserves an important era in American history. The museum also hosts the National Hudson Motor Car Company Museum. YAHM’s featured automotive stories include the Chevrolet Corvair, Tucker, Hudson, Kaiser-Frazer, and General Motors Hydra-matic transmission and production line; all with Ypsilanti connections. Other displays include Motor State which held patents on power convertible tops, the Ford Motor Company Generator Plant, and local car dealerships.

A featured car in the collection is #92, a 1952 Hudson Hornet race car owned by NASCAR champion Herb Thomas. Thomas drove Hornets to his second National Championship in 1953. Altogether, Thomas and his Hornets won 43 NASCAR races. Hudson Hornet race cars provided the inspiration for Doc Hudson in the 2006 Pixar film CARS.

Carl L. Miller opened the Hudson Sales and Service franchise in 1927 as an automobile dealership and repair shop. After the American Motors merger in 1955, the dealership was renamed Miller Motors and added Rambler to the product line. Until 1958, when the Hudson line was discontinued, the dealership sold 1,969 new vehicles, including Hudsons, Essexes, Terraplanes, Ramblers and Metropolitans. After 1958, Carl’s son Jack continued Miller Motors selling Hudson parts and cars until the museum was founded. We are indebted to Jack for preserving the dealership’s authentic condition.

In 1995, Paul “Skip” Ungrodt Jr and Peter B. Fletcher purchased Miller Motors from Jack Miller and formed the YAHM. Jack was hired as curator and served in that position until he retired in 2013. The museum has been steadily growing through gifts and acquisitions.

The museum’s archives consists of advertising, service, repair, promotional items, and all the records of Miller Motors going back to 1927. Our Ken and Blanche Mericle Collection tells the history of Kaiser-Frazer. The archives are available for ongoing research and will be kept for future generations.

Michigan Firehouse Museum – near Depot Town

The Michigan Firehouse Museum encompasses over 26,000 square feet of educational treasure that includes an original 1898 firehouse and a modern, multilevel exhibit display area. Visitors can view a fire engine steamer replete with horses. The large, modern addition offers 25 changing exhibits of antique fire trucks and early fire rigs, historic artifacts including tools, equipment, memorabilia and the largest collection of fire truck bells in the country.

Ypsilanti Historical Museum and Fletcher-White Archives

Founded in 1961, the Ypsilanti Historical Society operates the Ypsilanti Historical Museum and Fletcher-White Archives in Ypsilanti, MI. The museum and archives are located at 220 N Huron St. in an Italianate mansion built in 1860 by Asa Dow. The house came into possession of the Ypsilanti Historical Society in 1970 after being owned by the city since 1966. In 2007 the Fletcher-White Archives moved from the property's carriage house into the basement of the main house.

The Fletcher-White Archives includes collections on Eastern Michigan University, Willow Run, and Ypsilanti Public Schools. Through collaboration with the University of Michigan's Digital Library Production Service, the Ypsilanti Historical Society Photo Archives has made hundreds of images available online.

The Ypsilanti Historical Museum is a member of the Motor Cities National Heritage Area. It hosts an annual Quilt Show and participates in the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival.

The society's quarterly publication, Ypsilanti Gleanings, has been published since 1973. It was awarded the 2009 State History Award for "Communications: Newsletters and Websites" by the Historical Society of Michigan. The publication is available digitally on the website of the Ann Arbor District Library. The Elijah McCoy display of rail locomotive lubricating cups draws visitors interested in seeing “the real McCoy.”

Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport - Belleville, Michigan

The Story of the Yankee Air Museum begins in 1941 when Willow Run Airport was built by the Ford Motor Company to serve as an airfield for the B-24 Bomber Plant. This was the first aircraft manufacturing complex to use Ford’s automotive mass production technique, a leading technological innovation of the time. 

The Yankee Air Museum’s exhibitions cover global conflicts from WWI to the present through displays that offer visitors an opportunity to experience those conflicts through the men and woman who lived it. Many items in the collection – including but not limited to uniforms, weaponry, aircraft, medals, letters, artwork, photographs, and other mementos – are currently on exhibit in the Museum. The majority of the collection’s artifacts are kept safely in storage for research and future exhibitions, or are being restored to their original condition. The Museum also has a large collection of oral histories conducted with veterans of all branches and the civilians who helped at the home front.

The Yankee Air Museum has collected unique and fascinating artifacts that pertain to aviation history and the military. Many items tell the heroic tales of past battles as well as engineering breakthroughs. From the 1980s to the early 2000s, Museum staff placed new emphasis on items long thought by experts to be worth collecting. During this time, the museum acquired the iconic, static (non-flyable) B-52 Stratofortress, a flyable C-47 Douglas Skytrain, B-25 Mitchel, and the B-17 Flying Fortress where it is their mission to be able to have visitors fly in these historic aircraft.

After the devastating fire in 2004, the Museum was eager to get back on its feet. A new location was found and Museum staff began rebuilding the collection. By 2010, many people recognized the museum’s collections were unique and quickly re-growing, but they had also become unfocused and largely inaccessible to both museum staff and the public. With the image of the soon-to-be National Museum of Aviation and Technology in mind, the Museum began to align with national museum standards. This new era is marked by a flurry of activity to focus and get a handle on the collections—including an updated formal Collections Policy, curator-led exhibit and collection plans, and the introduction of a digitized collection. Items now being collected will allow the museum to be in sync with the Collections Policy and will also allow the museum to grow to become a National Museum.

In 2012, a campaign began to save the original Willow Run Bomber Plant to be the new home of the Museum. The National Museum of Aviation and Technology at Historic Willow Run will become the Museum’s new name, when the Yankee Air Museum moves into the building. There, in the roughly 144,000 square feet that will be renovated, will house the growing collection of more than 5,000 artifacts. The Museum will also be able to house their collection of static aircraft and The David and Andrea Robertson Education Center inside. The new location of the museum will allow for the Yankee Air Museum to bring the excitement of the flyable aircraft, exhibits, restoration and educational programs back to a single site. In early 2016, the Museum moved the first three aircraft into the Bomber Plant. Various pieces of the Museum will continue to move into the Bomber Plant as it is undergoing renovation.

Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan

The Henry Ford (also known as the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village, and more formally as the Edison Institute) is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex and a National Historic Landmark in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan. The museum collection contains the presidential limousine of John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln's chair from Ford's Theatre, Thomas Edison's laboratory, the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop, the Rosa Parks bus, and many more historical exhibits. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village is the largest indoor-outdoor museum complex in the United States and is visited by 1.6 million people each year (Wikipedia).

Greenfield Village, the outdoor living history museum section of the Henry Ford complex, was (along with the adjacent Henry Ford Museum) dedicated in 1929 and opened to the public in June 1933.  It was the first outdoor museum of its type in the nation, and served as a model for subsequent outdoor museums.  Patrons enter at the gate, passing by the Josephine Ford Memorial Fountain and Benson Ford Research Center. Nearly one hundred historical buildings were moved to the property from their original locations and arranged in a "village" setting. The museum's intent is to show how Americans lived and worked since the founding of the country. The Village includes buildings from the 17th century to the present, many of which are staffed by costumed interpreters who conduct period tasks like farming, sewing and cooking. A collection of craft buildings such as pottery, glass-blowing, and tin shops provide demonstrations while producing materials used in the Village and for sale. Greenfield Village has 240 acres (970,000 m²) of land of which only 90 acres (360,000 m²) are used for the attraction, the rest being forest, river and extra pasture for the sheep and horses.

There are 83 authentic, historic structures, from Noah Webster’s home, to Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, to the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. You can also ride in a genuine Model T or ride a train with a 19th-century steam engine (Wikipedia).  The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village is Michigan’s premier tourist attraction.

Field Trip Details

Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum

100 East Cross Street (Depot Town) Ypsilanti, MI 48197,  (734) 482-5200

  • Tues - Sun:  1:00-4:00pm;
  • Adult admission is $5:00 – EMU Students Free.

Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport

Yankee Air Force, Inc. 47884 D St. Belleville, MI 48111-1126 734-483-4030,

  • Tues-Sat. 10-4PM, Sun. 11-4PM;
  • Adults (18+) : $12.00
  • Seniors (60+), Students with ID, and Military (Past and Present) with ID and children: $8.00 

Michigan Firehouse Museum

110 W Cross St, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
(734) 547-0663

  • Open Tuesday - Saturday 10:00-4:00pm
  • Sunday 12:00-4:00pm
  • Admission is $5.00 for adults

Ypsilanti Historical Museum

734-482-4990

  • Tuesday - Sunday : 2:00 pm -5:00 pm
  • No entrance fee, donations are appreciated

The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village

20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124, (313) 982-6001

  • Open 7 days a week: 9:30am – 5:00pm
  • Adults (12-61): $22
  • Seniors 62 and above: $20
  • Save 10% by purchasing tickets online