A Shoe Collection

Shoes in the Anderson Store Museum

If you’ve ever visited the Anderson Store Museum, you’ve likely noticed the display of shoes in the back corner.  These shoes were once available for purchase in the Store and vary widely in type and style.  This winter, the EHF staff decided to undertake a big project: inventorying the shoe collection which, at last count, consisted of 173 shoes (81 pairs and 11 single shoes).

We began by collecting all the shoes from the Anderson Store and bringing them to the EHF offices.  Here is the process that each shoe or pair of shoes will undergo to be properly documented and cleaned.

  1. We take a photograph of the shoes before they are cleaned. Our collections database allows us to upload photos and we will be able to look back and see what the shoes looked like in their original condition.
Shoes before cleaning
Shoes before cleaning

2. Remove any old paper from inside the shoe. Many of these shoes were stuffed to maintain their shape.

3. For the many pairs of leather shoes, we used an all-natural, archival quality leather restorer. Using a restorer cleans the shoes and softens the leather.

A pair of boots before cleaning
A pair of boots before cleaning

4. We then used acid-free paper to restore the shape of the shoes. As you can see from the photo of these leather boots, the weight of the leather kept it from standing upright, added pressure on the bottom of the shoe, and creased the leather.  The shoes were then buttoned or laced back up.

5. An accession number was then created for each shoe and attached the number to each shoe. The number includes the year of the collection, the collection number, and the item number.  For example, an artifact’s accession number might be 2013.004.0002.  This means that the item was accessioned (or added to the collection) in 2013.  It was part of the fourth collection to be added in that year and the artifact was the second item from that collection.

6. We then wrote down any information on the shoe, including any identifying labels or notes on the manufacturer, a basic description, and dimensions.

The pair of boots after being cleaned. A tag with the accession number is visible at the top of each shoe.
The pair of boots after being cleaned. A tag with the accession number is visible at the top of each shoe.

7. Finally, we took another photograph of the cleaned shoes for the collections database.

Though there are a lot of steps to properly document an artifact,  a variety of useful things come out of these sorts of projects.  We’ll now be able to provide more information about the shoes displayed in the Anderson Store.  Additionally, pairs can be rotated out every few years to ensure they are not damaged while on exhibit.  We can also use this information online, on Facebook or blog posts.  Visit the Anderson Store Museum next summer to see the newly updated shoe display!

-Guest Blogger Emily Irwin

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