• Illustrations and descriptions of shoemaking machinery: "Shoe-Embossing Machine; Shoe-Eyeleting Machine ; Shoe-Hammer; Shoe-Heel Burnishing-Machine; Heel-Pressing Machine." Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Shoe-Embossing Machine ; Shoe-Eyeleting Machine ; Shoe-Hammer ; Shoe-Heel Burnishing-Machine ; Heel-Pressing Machine
    • Date
    • 1884
    • Description
    • Written on border: "1877" Figures numbered 5014 to 5018. Printed on border: "Shoe-embossing machine. (Shoemaking). For embossing boot and shoe fronts with any required ornamental design before they are worked up." "Shoe-eyeleting machine. Eyelets are... more
      Written on border: "1877" Figures numbered 5014 to 5018. Printed on border: "Shoe-embossing machine. (Shoemaking). For embossing boot and shoe fronts with any required ornamental design before they are worked up." "Shoe-eyeleting machine. Eyelets are fed one by one from the reservoir at the top, down the inclined ways, and are seized at the foot between the plunger and anvil…" "Shoe-hammer. A hammer with a slightly convex, broad face, and a wide, thin, rounding peen, whose length is transverse to the handle." "Shoe-heel burnishing machine. A machine in which a shoe or boot is chucked and revolved against a burnishing-tool." "Shoe-heel pressing machine. For pressing together the lifts which compose a boot or shoe heel, and dispensing with the shop work of hammer and lapstone." Includes additional text. less
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Art and Picture Collection. The New York Public Library

  • Illustrations and descriptions for shoemaking machinery: "Beating-Out Machine (Shoe-Machinery Manufacturing Co.); Spear's Sole-Channeling Machine; Sole-Cutting Machine; Sole-Finishing Tool." Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Beating-Out Machine (Shoe-Machinery Manufacturing Co.) ; Spear'S Sole-Channeling Machine ; Sole-Cutting Machine ; Sole-Finishing Tool
    • Date
    • 1884
    • Description
    • Written on mount: "1877" Printed on border: "Sole-cutting machine. One in which sole-shaped pieces are cut from the side or from strips of leather." "Sole-finishing tool. A burnishing-tool for the edges of soles." Figures numbered 5305 to 5308. Inclu... more
      Written on mount: "1877" Printed on border: "Sole-cutting machine. One in which sole-shaped pieces are cut from the side or from strips of leather." "Sole-finishing tool. A burnishing-tool for the edges of soles." Figures numbered 5305 to 5308. Includes additional text. less
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Art and Picture Collection. The New York Public Library

  • Molded boot vulcanizer battery, Hood Rubber Company, Watertown, Massachusetts. Courtesy of Watertown Free Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Hood Rubber Company -- Watertown (Mass.).
    • Description
    • Molded boot vulcanizer battery. Frederic and Arthur Hood, trained under their father and after the U.S. Rubber Co. failed in Franklin and Chelsea, MA, founded a factory in 1896 in East Watertown. During the early years, Hood hired many immigrant Arme... more
      Molded boot vulcanizer battery. Frederic and Arthur Hood, trained under their father and after the U.S. Rubber Co. failed in Franklin and Chelsea, MA, founded a factory in 1896 in East Watertown. During the early years, Hood hired many immigrant Armenians and was mainly responsible for the development of East Watertown into an Armenian neighborhood. Hood had its own auxiliary fire department and alarm system. It took half an hour to cover hood?s 88 acres. By 1920, the company employed ten thousand men and women. Hood encouraged employees to attend Americanization classes and established a settlement house known as the Abraham Lincoln House. Employee turnover was exceptionally low and good relationship with the Company existed. Hood produced rubber footwear, gloves, floor tiles, battery boxes, and a variety of hard rubber and plastic-coated products. In 1920, Hood?s tire division, which had started in 1906, was making 35,000 tires a day and the footwear division over 70,000 pairs of shoes daily--ranked first in New England and third in the United States. During WWII, the Company manufactured bullet-proof fuel cells, de-icers for aircraft, plastic helmet liners and aviation boots. The Town and the Company went to Washington D.C. to fight for the Tariff Act of 1955 to which allowed the Company to continue in business. Many a Watertown family became test subjects, as rubber sole shoes were given to the children, to use for one year. They shoes were then returned to Hood for evaluation. Each child would line up and hope to have the correct shoe size being given out that year. B.F. Goodyear purchased Hood Rubber Company in 1929 and Hood became one of their divisions for footwear and Hood tires? division was moved to Akron, Ohio. Hood Rubber paid 10% of the taxed revenue in the Town. Hood Rubber Company closed in 1969. less
    • Rights
    • Management Restrictions apply. See application form at http://watertownlib.org/research/historic-watertown/photographs. Contact host institution for more information.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Watertown Free Public Library

Beyond the Sewing Machine

While shoemaking was moving toward mechanization by the middle of the nineteenth century, it was the Civil War’s beginning in 1861 that created the biggest industry change. The war pulled labor away from the industry, necessitating further technological advancements in light of fewer workers, and created a demand for shoes for military men.

The pegging machine, mechanized in the 1850s, allowed for the “uppers,” or top portions, of shoes to be attached with relative speed to the harder soles. Still, the pegging process lacked the quality of hand stitching.

While the 1850s sewing machine could manage the production of uppers, it was not until the invention of McKay’s sole sewing machine in 1860 that uppers and soles could be joined with industry-desired speed and quality.

The rubber vulcanization process, invented by Charles Goodyear, Sr. and employed in his son’s welting machines in 1877, allowed rubber soles to be sewn to the uppers.