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Treasures Afoot


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Cordwainers
Chapter 2. Wedding Shoes
Chapter 3. The Value of a London Label
Chapter 4. Coveting Calamancos: From London to Lynn
Chapter 5. The Cordwainer's Lament: Benjamin Franklin and John Hose Testify on the Effects of the Stamp Act
Chapter 6. "For My Use, Four Pair of Neat Shoes": George Washington, Virginia Planter, and Mr. Didsbury, Boot- and Shoemaker of London
Chapter 7. Boston's Cordwainers Greet President Washington, 1789

Promotional Information

Shoes reveal the hopes, dreams, and disappointments of the early Americans who wore them.

About the Author

Historian Kimberly S. Alexander, a former curator at the MIT Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and Strawbery Banke, teaches material culture and museum studies at the University of New Hampshire.


Alexander spent eight years researching [Treasures Afoot], which examines eighteenth-century shoes from thirty different collections, plus thousands of original letters, inventories and other manuscripts. Each shoe or pair of shoes is the catalyst for a story of how it was made, sold and worn, told in astonishing depth and detail.

-- Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell * Ornament Magazine *

Very engagingly written . . . Shoe history is a very popular field, and [Treasures Afoot] deserves to be widely read, as it is an excellent contribution to the histories of material culture and transatlantic consumerism.

-- Matthew McCormack, University of Northampton * Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies *

This impeccably researched, written and illustrated book is enough on its own as a study of surviving luxury objects from almost a century of American history.

-- Stella Tillyard * Times Literary Supplement *

[Treasures Afoot] is well written and easy to read . . . an interesting addition to the very limited number of works specifically about eighteenth century shoes.

-- Alison Fairhurst * The Journal of Dress History *

This is a book that will intrigue students and scholars of American and Material Culture Studies, as well as anyone interested in fashion, history, or-what else?-shoes! It is well researched, accessible, and it interweaves history, biography, and engaging shoe stories in a brilliant manner, doing justice to all the strands in draws to it. It would be a delight to see more endeavors like this one undertaken by and circulating among Americanists.

-- Katerina Delikonstantinidou * European Journal of American Studies *

In this richly illustrated volume, Kimberly S. Alexander focuses on footwear as a way to nuance and enrich our understanding of key themes in eighteenth-century British American history and culture. By tracing the production, sale, and (re)use of shoes, she revisits the development and maturation of gentility, consumer culture, and production networks across the latter decades of empire and the early years of the republic. In doing so, her study illuminates new facets of familiar dynamics, such as colonial American utilization of consumer items to craft social identities. The work also brings fresh attention to less familiar areas, such as how early American habits of recycling certain consumer items helped define class identities, familial relationships, and economic habits. As a result, much in this study will interest a broad range of scholars of early American society and culture.

-- Sarah Fatherly, Queens University of Charlotte * Journal of American History *

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