Henry Ford and racist auto plaques??

Over the weekend, I was in a discussion… At one point, someone said that Henry Ford put a plaque in his early cars, saying something like “No blacks, no dogs, no Jews.”

Being a good Doper, I immediately asked for a cite. The person didn’t have a cite handy.

Okay, no big deal, the SDMB is good at finding cites.

Snopes came up empty on this; so did a search in GQ. Thus:

Henry Ford was known to be anti-Jewish. Did he go so far as to include an anti-Jewish and/or anti-black plaque on his cars? Or was he enough of a capitalist to accept that a customer is a customer, money is fungible, and as long as the cars sell it doesn’t matter who’s buying them?

I cannot prove a negative, but…

The cars we associate with HF did not include real roofs, radios or any options for color. It is hard to think that he (nutter that he was) went out of his way to put political statements on his cars.

He was a racist SOB but I’ve never heard that he put plaques saying such in his cars.

I recently read the horrifying Henry Ford and the Jews, and don’t remember his doing that. He was a Jew-hatin’ sonofabitch, but he was a businessman above all.

Actually, While Henry Ford was very anti-semetic (something his later generations tried to correct for by their actions) he was actually very pro minority. Even to the point of during the initial days of the UAW strikes, the black workers refused to strike (Cite (book) Wheels for the World). He brought in signifcant minority populations for the factories from Europe, the middle and far east.

Additional info… many cite that his Antisemitic views came from his schooling with the McGuffy Reader, a popular textbook in the last century.


Further to that, he was one of the first major businessmen to pay blacks on the same wage scale as whites, and one of the first to practice nondiscrimination in hiring them. Another route of speculation is that, as a farm boy, he associated Jews with bankers, and bankers were the enemies of farmers, and so forth. His idealized American town at Greenfield Village, sort of an early Disneyland, did not include any banks or lawyers’ offices, interestingly. Ford’s highly-liberal (for the time) views of black/white relations, though, may have been shaped as a boy by his working alongside, and presumably conversing with, his family’s black hired hand.

Further to clnilsen’s post, he was one of the first major businessmen to pay blacks on the same wage scale as whites, and one of the first to practice nondiscrimination in hiring them (even if they wound up disproportionately on the messy, smelly paint line). A part of the massive migration of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century may have been inspired by the real possibility of getting a well-paying job at “Ford’s”.

By contrast, his anti-Semitism, though, so virulent that he bought his own newspaper to denounce the international Jewish conspiracy, even got him a warm mention in Mein Kampf. Yes, Henry was a tough man to figure out.

One possibility for Ford’s odd distinctions is that the anti-semitic propaganda of the day pictured Jews as bent on global domination, and as running the “word money system.” That makes it hard to view them as underdogs, whereas it was pretty easy to view Blacks as underdogs.

I find the dog part pretty unlikely too… :wink:

“No blacks, no dogs, no Jews” (or its very close equivalent) was on a sign posted at a tennis club or swimming pool in some movie, and it’s not hard to believe that such signs were used in that context. What is quite unbelievable is that anyone would install such a sign in cars at the factory. Come on now, no dogs?

Until model year 1913, Model T Fords were available in red, gray, blue and Brewster green. The touring car version of the Model T was painted blue for two years after that.


There were huge, huge differences in general social “acceptance” or “criticism” of Jews post- and pre-WWII. WWII kind of changed things and made Jews out to be a “victim race” rather than the lecherous Jew represented in literature and the popular press.

At the time, there wasn’t really anything fundamentally wrong with badthink in regards to Jews. Kind of in the same vein that in its time, there was no badthink associated with owning black people as slaves.

Being a goodthinker, both are doubleplusungood and abhorrent to me now. But this is now. That was then.

My Grandmother came to the U.S. in the 1910’s as a teen. She told me that there were signs that said, “No Jews or Dogs” on apartments for rent. It sounds like stuff like this and Ford’s known anti-Jewish feelings have been confused.


hajario, that makes the most sense.

Thanks everybody for the help, and the references! Happy Sukkot. ;j