Single Shoes and Individual Lives: The Mill Creek Shoe Project

  • Carolyn L. White


Shoes are compelling symbols of individual lives and act metaphorically to suggest an intimacy with the person who wore them. In our modern world, celebrity affiliation with specific shoe designers – e.g., Sarah Jessica Parker and Manolo Blahnik – underscores the intimacy of this kind of artifact. In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy wrote, “Now she knew all of them as people know one another in a country town; she knew their habits and weaknesses, and where the shoe pinched each one of them.” The fit of a shoe is intimate information, and possessing knowledge of it suggests extraordinary familiarity. Maxims regarding the intimacy of shoes abound in modern parlance: “If the shoe fits, wear it,” “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” As artifacts, shoes carry the marks of the individual who wore them in many different ways, physically as well as symbolically.


Individual Life Hallux Valgus Late Eighteenth Wear Pattern Individual People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The Mill Creek Project was initially launched under the direction of The Center for Cultural and Environmental History and The Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research, Anthropology Department, at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA. Thanks to David Landon, Dennis Peichota, and Leith Smith for inviting me to participate in the project and for permitting my ongoing access to these materials. Thank you to Rebecca Yamin for her comments on this paper as presented in the 2006 symposium at the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, Sacramento, California.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nevada, RenoRenoUSA

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