The Shoemaker
by Nicole D. & Trina

"Let me measure your foot so I can make shoes for you." The first shoemakers in the colonies traveled from house to house making and repairing shoes. They stayed with the family whose shoes they were working on. They were often the colonist who share the latest news. 

Lynn, Massachusetts became the shoe capital of the New England colonies because there was a tannery there. In the south, make plantation owners had slaves who were trained as shoemakers. The wealth often imported their shoes from England. 

Shoemakers used tools like:

  • Awl - used to punch holes in leather
  • Burnisher - heated and used to rub soles and heals to a high shine 
  • Marking wheel - used to mark the points on the sole through which the needle should go
  • Size stick - used to measure the person's foot
  • Sole knife - used to shape the sole
  • Stretching pliers - used to stretch the leather on the upper part of the shoe

By 1750 shoemakers were making shoes in different sizes for anyone who wanted to buy them. Before that they only made shoes on special order.

Click on a trade below to read more about it.

Source: Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Shoemakers. New York: Benchmark, 1998. 

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