Ford Motor Company Sociological Department & English School

Thanks to Hamish Robertson for pointing out this fascinating resource:

With the success of the Ford Model T after its introduction in 1908, Ford Motor Company became the leading manufacturer of automobiles in the world. By 1914, the integration of the progressive assembly line made high-volume and efficient production at Ford Motor Company plants an exemplary model for mass production. Ford’s demand for cheap labor and the lure of high wages—with the $5 day profit sharing plan—drew thousands of immigrants and migrants to Detroit.

In order to manage and control such a large and diverse workforce, John R. Lee, Head of Personnel, created the Sociological Department in 1914. The Sociological Department established a system of rules and codes of behavior for Ford employees that they had to meet, in order to qualify for the $5 day pay rate. The Sociological Department monitored employees at home, as well as on the job. Investigators made unannounced visits to employees’ homes and evaluated the cleanliness of the home, noted if the family had renters, checked with school attendance offices to determine if children were attending school and monitored bank records to verify that employees made regular deposits. Sociological Department investigators also assisted workers’ families by teaching wives about home care, cooking and hygiene.

Categories: Rethinking The World


1 reply »

  1. I can’t imagine the mindset of the non-profit directors and managers at the Henry Ford Museum. How could they approve this explanatory text from the same webpage:
    “Students dressed in costumes reminiscent of their native homes stepped into a massive stage-prop cauldron that had a banner across the front identifying it as the AMERICAN MELTING POT. Seconds later, after a quick change out of sight of the audience, students emerged wearing “American” suits and hats, waving American flags, having undergone a spiritual smelting process where the impurities of foreignness were burnt off as slag to be tossed away leaving a new 100% American.”?

    From the Digital Collections:

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