• "Types Of Army Boots," 1911. Although this advertisement  says that “choice is practically unlimited,” this was not the case as the federal government pushed companies to standardize products during the war to maximize efficiency and production. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    Types Of Army Boots.
    • Date
    • 1911
    • Description
    • Printed on border: "Manfield & Sons. 125, New Bond St., London, W." Written on border: "Aug. 1911" Includes additional text.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Art and Picture Collection. The New York Public Library

  • "Join the army air service. Be an American eagle!" Over 3 million United States soldiers needed to be outfitted with shoes for service in World War I. Courtesy of Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Join the army air service. Be an American eagle!
    • Date
    • 1918
    • Creator
    • Bull, Charles Livingston, 1874-1932
    • Description
    • Image of American eagle fighting a large black German eagle, juxtaposed with a fleet of U.S. fighter planes. Caption below title reads, "Consult your local draft board. Read the illustrated booklet at any recruiting office, or write to the Chief Sign... more
      Image of American eagle fighting a large black German eagle, juxtaposed with a fleet of U.S. fighter planes. Caption below title reads, "Consult your local draft board. Read the illustrated booklet at any recruiting office, or write to the Chief Signal Officer of the Army, Washington, D.C. Apply to Air Service Trade Test Board, 755 Boylston St., Boston, Mass. Bull received his artistic training at the Philadelphia Art School. He was an expert on animal and bird anatomy, as well as on taxidermy, which earned him a position as Chief Taxidermist at the National Museum in Washington, D.C. less
    • Rights
    • No known copyright restrictions. No known restrictions on use.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Boston Public Library

The demand for shoes skyrocketed during World War I with a new need to outfit soldiers. Some twenty-seven million pairs of shoes were delivered to the United States government between April 1917 and December 1918 alone. Despite the increased demand, revenue for the shoemaking industry was tempered. The American Industries Board controlled the price of materials to keep supply and production costs low, as well as the number of styles that could be produced, forcing companies to prioritize shoes for soldiers. Many shoemaking factories turned to producing other military wear, too, in order to capitalize on the government’s need for uniforms.

After the war, shoe companies returned to producing only footwear, flooding the American market with their products and driving prices down. Domestic shoemakers hoped that exportation to Europe after the war would find new demand for their abundance of products. Unfortunately, the exchange rate between the American dollar and European currencies was poor, and shipping nearly impossible. By the time these two factors had improved, the Europeans had re-established their own market and were leasing their own machines, reducing or eliminating the need for American imports.