• Shoe conveyor jacks loaded, Hood Rubber Company, Watertown, Massachusetts. Courtesy of Watertown Free Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Hood Rubber Company.
    • Description
    • Shoe conveyor jacks loaded. Equipment at Hood Rubber Company--Watertown (Mass.). 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. Durin... more
      Shoe conveyor jacks loaded. Equipment at Hood Rubber Company--Watertown (Mass.). 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.
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    • Digital Commonwealth
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    • Watertown Free Public Library

  • Battery of tennis shoe conveyors, Hood Rubber Company, Watertown, Massachusetts. Courtesy of Watertown Free Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Hood Rubber Company -- Watertown (Mass.).
    • Description
    • Battery of tennis shoe conveyors. Equipment at Hood Rubber Company--Watertown (Mass.). 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.... more
      Battery of tennis shoe conveyors. Equipment at Hood Rubber Company--Watertown (Mass.). 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

  • Charles Goodyear, "Gum-elastic and its varieties, with a detailed account of its applications and uses, and of the discovery of vulcanization," 1853. Courtesy of Smithsonian Libraries via Biodiversity Heritage Library.

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    Gum-elastic and its varieties : with a detailed account of its applications and uses, and of the discovery of vulcanization /
    • Date
    • 1853
    • Creator
    • Goodyear, Charles, 1800-1860.
    • Description
    • v. 1-2 (1853).
    • Rights
    • NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
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    • Biodiversity Heritage Library
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    • Smithsonian Libraries

The first rubber-soled shoes were developed and manufactured in the United States in the late 1800s. The soles were the product of a new manufacturing process called vulcanization, discovered by Charles Goodyear, Sr. The vulcanization technique uses heat to meld rubber to cloth or other rubber components, creating a sturdier, more permanent bond.

A driving force in the shoemaking industry in its own right, the Hood Rubber Company in Watertown, Massachusetts, became a major employer for local workers, many of whom were recent immigrants. The rubber company, founded in 1896, employed over 10,000 people in its heyday in the early twentieth century.