Charles Goodyear, Jr.

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"Man making shoes." Man using a welting machine. Courtesy of Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library via Digital Commonwealth.

Charles Goodyear Jr. (1833-1896) followed in the innovative footsteps of his father, Charles Goodyear, who invented the rubber vulcanization process. The younger Goodyear invented a welting process for attaching the heel of a shoe to the sole by machine. The welt works as an attaching point for the sole and shoe, usually leather or rubber lining the outsole, allowing shoes to be resoled when worn down. The process lent each pair of shoes a lifespan of years, if not decades.

Although the resoling process became mechanized with Goodyear’s invention of the “Goodyear Welting Machine,” it was nonetheless time-consuming. The multi-step process required a skilled operator’s presence at the helm of the device.