Historical Archaeology

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 643–665 | Cite as

Walking in Their Shoes: A Late Victorian Shoe Assemblage from the New Mississippi River Bridge Project in East St. Louis

  • Claire P. Dappert-CoonrodEmail author
  • Martha Mihich
Original Article


A significant number of shoes and shoe parts were recovered during the Illinois State Archaeological Survey’s excavations in East St. Louis for the Illinois Department of Transportation as part of the New Mississippi River Bridge Project (NMRB). The breadth and range of shoe styles in the NMRB collection are indicative of identity, gender, and occupation, as well as local consumption patterns. These topics are illuminated by examining construction methods (soles), style (uppers), and shoe size. This article explores the different types of styles and constructions represented in the NMRB shoe assemblage. One household lot––125 St. Clair Avenue—produced an exceptionally comprehensive sample that contains nearly all shoe-construction types present in the wider assemblage. This sample is discussed in light of developments in the shoe industry, the repair and maintenance of shoes, and the age and gender of the occupants at 125 St. Clair Avenue. Preferences for shoe style and particular shoe-construction types are also considered.


shoes Victorian period East St. Louis stockyards urban archaeology 


Durante las excavaciones del Estudio Arqueológico Estatal de Illinois en East St. Louis, para el Departamento de Transporte de Illinois como parte del Proyecto del Puente Nuevo del Río Mississippi (NMRB, por sus siglas en inglés), se recuperó una cantidad significativa de zapatos y piezas de calzado. La amplitud y variedad de los estilos de calzado de la colección del NMRB son indicativas de identidad, género y ocupación, así como de los patrones de consumo locales. Estos temas se iluminan mediante el examen de los métodos de construcción (suelas), del estilo (parte superior) y del tamaño del calzado. Este artículo explora los diferentes tipos de estilos y de construcción representados en el conjunto de zapatos del NMRB. El lote de un hogar, 125 St. Clair Avenue, produjo una muestra excepcionalmente completa que contiene casi todos los tipos de construcción de zapatos presentes en el conjunto total. Se discute esta muestra tomando en cuenta los avances en la industria del calzado, la reparación y el mantenimiento de zapatos, y la edad y el género de los ocupantes de 125 St. Clair Avenue. También se consideran las preferencias sobre estilo de calzado y tipos particulares de construcción de zapatos.


Un grand nombre de chaussures et leurs composantes furent découvertes durant les excavations de l’Illinois State Archaeological Survey d’East St Louis pour le département des Transports de l’Illinois, dans le cadre du New Mississippi River Bridge Project (NMRB). La vastitude des styles de chaussures de la collection du NMRB est représentative de l’identité, du sexe et de l’occupation, ainsi que des modèles de consommation locaux. Ces sujets sont explorés par l’examen des méthodes de construction (semelles), styles (tiges) et tailles des chaussures. Le présent article explore les différents types de styles et constructions représentés dans l’assemblage du NMRB. Le lot d’un ménage—125 St. Clair Avenue—offre un échantillon exceptionnellement complet contenant pratiquement tous les types de constructions présents dans l’assemblage global. Cet échantillon est traité dans le contexte des avancées de l’industrie de la chaussure, des réparations et de l’entretien de ces articles, ainsi que de l’âge et du sexe des occupants du 125 St. Clair Avenue. Les préférences relatives au style et aux types de constructions sont également prises en considération.



The principal investigator for this project was Dr. Thomas E. Emerson, director, ISAS. Project support was generously provided by the award-winning Illinois Department of Transportation Cultural Resources Program, managed by Dr. John Walthall (retired) and Brad H. Koldehoff. Finally, thanks to the ISAS field and lab crews, specifically to production support (Mera Hertel, Robert Rohe, Dale Tucker, and Jada Zook), and to those who contributed directly to shoe inventory and analysis (Dwayne Scheid, Patrick Durst, Melissa Frederick, and Andrea Gregory).


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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.JacksonvilleU.S.A.
  2. 2.GreenvilleU.S.A.

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