Head over heels for a new Snohomish County history exhibit

Oct 05, 2016
Courtesy of: Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission A new exhibit in Everett features shoes from the late 18th century through the late 20th century that were worn by men, women and children in Snohomish County.

Although the human foot has remained unchanged for thousands of years, what people have worn on their feet has shown incredible diversity. It is in this diversity that some of the most interesting aspects of culture are revealed.

In "Our Shoes: Form, Function, & Fashion 1790-1970," a new history exhibit curated by the Everett Museum of History, features more than 90 shoes worn by Snohomish County men, women and children for recreation, work and fashion.

This exhibit created with support from the Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission is on view at the Robert J. Drewel Building at the corner of Rockefeller and Wall in Everett through Oct. 20. Admission is free.

“Footwear is more than protection for your feet or a fashion statement; it’s a symbol of empowerment, a glimpse into a time and place, and a reflection of how people want to be perceived,” said Chris Jenkins, chair of the Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission.

“The footwear on view showcases wonderful examples of simple yet functional shoes and ornate styles of the period.”

Up until 1850, shoes were made straight, meaning that there was no differentiation from the left and right shoe. As the 20th century approached, shoemakers improved comfort by making foot-specific shoes.

In the 20th century, the face of footwear again changed drastically due in part to a variety of technological advances that made the shoemaking process simpler.

In 1790, the first sewing machine intended for leatherwork was invented by Thomas Saint, allowing for holes to be punched through leather much more quickly. A process for manufacturing stitchless or glued shoes, the AGO System, was developed in 1910.

The shoes presented In Our Shoes: Form, Function, & Fashion 1790-1970 date from the later 18th century to the later 20th century and are part of the vast personal collection of the Everett Museum of History which archives and preserves more than 50,000 artifacts from Everett and Snohomish County.

They represent both footwear chosen for every day and those meant for special occasions.

The Robert J. Drewel Building is at 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday.

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