Shoes at Different Stages of Completion, Endicott Johnson Plant, Endicott, NY, 1917

Historical Context
In 1882, George F. Johnson arrived in Binghamton with eight cents in his pocket. He went to work at the Lester Brothers Boot Factory. George’s hard work and motivation paid off, and by 1899 he had secured a loan to buy a partnership in the company. The company was renamed after its two new owners, and the boot factory became the Endicott Johnson Company.


As a manager, George believed that a contented worker was a productive worker. So he cut back the workday to only eight hours and donated carousels to the town for the children to ride on for free. During the Depression era of the 1920s-1930s, George even provided each schoolchild with a pair of new shoes at Christmas. After George Johnson’s death, the factory closed due to lack of modernization.
Essential Question
How does industrialization change a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the effect of this production on the economy.
[click to enlarge]
Shoemaking: Shoes at different stages of completion, New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_A9978
Document Description
Shoes from the Endicott Johnson Plant in different stages of completion, 1917.
Historical Challenge
Create a visual timeline about how shoes have evolved. Research how shoes are made today.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Pretend the Endicott Johnson Factory produced 3,261 shoes in 1908, 3,390 shoes in 1909, 3,176 in 1910, and 3,250 in 1911. Make a graph of the production.
Science: Why is leather a good material for making shoes?
English Language Arts: Create a chart that shows the process of making a shoe. Make an original shoe design and create advertisements for it.
  1. Aswad, Ed and Suzanne Meredith. Endicott Johnson (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing SC, October 2003. ISBN: 0738513067
  2. Lawlor, Laurie. Where Will This Shoe Take You?: A Walk through the History of Footwear. Walker & Company, June 1996. ISBN: 0802784348
  3. Yue, Charlotte. Shoes: Their History in Words and Pictures. DIANE Publishing Company, August 2000. ISBN: 0788194658
  4. Vanderbilt, Tom. The Sneaker Book: Anatomy of an Industry and an Icon. New Press, The, July 1998. ISBN: 1565844068