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Object Record

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Object Name Shoe sole
Catalog Number 0985.00.00013b
Description One naturalized sole of a pair (2) of shoe soles carved from one piece of pine or birch. Due to carvings in the heel area, it appears these were handmade. No uppers or nails. Insole recessed to allow attachment of upper. Square toe. The heel is 1/2 of an inch high and is not a separate part. Men's size 10.
Dimensions H-1.8 W-3.7 L-11.25 inches
Owned unidentified slaves, Maringo County, Alabama (tentative)
Made unidentified slaves, Maringo County, Alabama, CSA (tentative)
Provenance Wooden soles presented by Henry Bethea.

"The wooden soles were made on a plantation in Maringo County, Alabama. The soles were used in construction of shoes for the slaves living and working on the plantation."

"1 pair of wooden soles made for servants in Ala. during the war 1861-65."

"During the latter part of the war between the states, leather became scarce, and it was with great difficulty the planters in this part of Ala. (Maringo Co.) could obtain shoes for their negroes, and many of them were forced to adopt the oriental sandal - a [wire?] sole of wood fastened to the bottom of the foot by thongs passing over the fore part of the foot and around the ankle. The wood used for these soles being taken from the Linden tree. It is the softest and most durable wood that grows in this section of country. Some of our planters made shoes for their slaves by tacking to the wooden soles, fresh undressed skins, cut in shape to fit the foot. They answered the purpose so long as the shoes could be kept dry; which was only a short while. Afterwards coarse cotton cloth was substituted for the rawhide with better satisfaction to the negro. After forty years hid away in an old out house on this plantation some of these 'wooden bottoms' as the negroes then called them have come to light…" (donor letter)
People unidentified slaves (tentative)
unidentified African Americans (tentative)
Subjects African Americans