Automobile Dashboard Pad

In the 1930s, Dr. Claire L. Straith, a Detroit plastic surgeon who treated automobile accident victims, began a one-man campaign to eliminate head and facial injuries caused by steel dashboards, protruding knobs, and other car interior hazards. He installed lap belts in his own car, and he designed and patented a dashboard crash pad. This example is the only remaining pad that Straith owned. In the 1940s, he unsuccessfully marketed an add-on dashboard pad that could be ordered by mail. Padded dashboards became standard equipment in 1949 Chrysler cars and in all cars by 1968.
Currently not on view
Object Name
automobile dashboard pad
Physical Description
metal (part: attaching chains material)
fabric (overall material)
foam rubber (inside material)
metal (inside framework material)
overall: 8 1/2 in x 20 in x 1 in; 21.59 cm x 50.8 cm x 2.54 cm
part: attaching chain: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cm
part: attaching chain: 4 in; 10.16 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Road Transportation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Janet Straith Husband

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