There’s an old saying that tells us we should walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. It’s a reminder that we should practice empathy and try to understand people before we cast judgement.
As it happens, this expression is right on the mark because it seems when we use shoes as historical objects, we can learn a LOT about people and their everyday lives and actions.
Kimberly Alexander, museum specialist, lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, and author of Treasures Afoot: Shoe Stories from the Georgian Era, joins us to help us better understand shoes and what they can tell us about the everyday lives of early Americans.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Kimberly Alexander, museum specialist, lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, and author of Treasures Afoot: Shoe Stories from the Georgian Era, joins us to explore early American shoes and what they can tell us about the everyday lives of early Americans.
As we converse, Kimberly reveals how we can read shoes for information and what they can tell us about early America; How early Americans purchased shoes and the work eighteenth-century shoemakers performed to produce them; And, how politics informed the fashion choices early Americans made.
What You’ll Discover
- What shoes can tell us about early America
- The importance of research questions
- How to read shoes for historical information
- George Washington and his shoes
- The deliberateness of early Americans’ choices and fashion
- Cordwainers and shoe makers
- Role women played in early American shoe manufacture
- How early Americans shopped for and purchased shoes
- Early American designer shoes and shoe brands
- The early American second-hand clothing trade
- American importation preferences
- The cost of shoes in early America
- Shoes as political statements
- The shoes of the enslaved
- What shoes let us see about early America
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Kimberly Alexander
- Kimberly on Twitter: @SilkDamask
- Kimberly’s Facebook Page
- Treasures Afoot: Shoe Stories from the Georgian Era
- Fashioning the New England Family
- Strawbery Banke Museum
- Peabody Essex Museum
- Historic New England
- Bostonian Society
- T.H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence
- Episode 024: Kimberly Alexander: 18th-Century Fashion & Material Culture
- Episode 084: Zara Anishanslin, How Historians Read Historical Sources
- Episode 153: Committees and Congresses: Governments of the American Revolution
- Episode 160: The Politics of Tea
- Episode 201: Catherine Kelly, Art, Politics, and Everyday Life in Early America
- Episode 209: Considering Biography
Time Warp Question
In your opinion, how might our understanding of early America and the daily life of early Americans be different if archives had shown an equal preference for collecting everyday objects? How might our understanding of early America and its daily life be different if we had more access to a historical record of everyday shoes?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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